Title: Phoenix Point
Developer: Snapshot Games
Publisher: Snapshot Games
Official Site: Phoenix Point.info
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Version Tested: PC
No, Phoenix Point is not a new Phoenix Wright game. While it would be awesome if there was a new game that featured the legendary attorney fighting aliens, what Phoenix Point is, is good enough.
Helmed by the original creator of Xcom, Julian Gallop, this new turn-based strategy will certainly feel like a walk down memory lane. While the game can’t be a direct successor to that series, it even feels like it should exist in the same universe.
The familiarity of Phoenix Point is both a blessing and a curse. Instead of an alien invasion, or a resistance force trying to fight off alien overlords, the enemies don’t come from the skies this time.
Just how the enemies do come into being is one of the things that could have been explained better. The game is set in the very near future where something called the Pandoravirus is unleashed.
This has a mutating effect on the entire planet, changing humans into a number of different creatures that don’t remember or care what they once were. While humanity is on the brink, there are forces that are fighting back.
Yes, that line certainly sounds familiar. The forces that you control are gathered in bases.
These bases are the staging grounds for personnel, equipment, and research labs. There are some subtle differences here and there from Xcom and Xcom 2, but the basic structure is similar.
You even fly to missions in a jet that looks quite a bit like the ones used in Gallop’s original work. Phoenix Point is an ode to what came before. It’s a beautiful homage. It would be a little better if it were allowed to stand on its own just a little bit more.
Turn-based strategy at its best
Where Phoenix Point is an improvement over its “predecessors” is how the game handles the gameplay. Easily the most noticeable change between this game and newer games like Road to Eden is how you can shoot at your enemies.
While you can still click the “shoot weapon” function, you can become quite a bit more specific. This game allows you to aim at specific parts of your enemy.
This means that if you’re doing battle with a particularly fierce creature, you can aim their weapons. The strategy is to make sure it can’t attack before you can line up your forces to take it down.
Some enemies come with shields, as well. Take these out, and your buddies are going to have an easier time putting a monster down.
The flipside of this is that you aren’t always going to have a killing shot available. Depending on the angle, you might not be able to shoot for the head. Taking out a leg, and causing an enemy to bleed to death could be your best option.
That kind of strategy just isn’t included in a ton of other games in this genre. It’s a real step up. Even if it’s hard to tell how much you’re gaining from it.
I rarely used the regular “shoot” button. There didn’t seem to be a reason. I’d imagine it’s there for people too lazy to figure out the best part to aim at.
Shooting is hardly the only thing you’re going to have to make an essential choice on. Like the games that came before it, you can also toss a grenade, or reload your weapon, or even going into a status where you are standing guard.
The World of Phoenix Point
Not all the strategy in Phoenix Point takes place on the battlefield. While Xcom and Xcom 2 are more linear, this game feels quite a bit more “open-world.”
There are still missions to take on, and the point is to save as many people as you can, but how you choose to help them can be gone from several different angles. Factions of humanity all know the mutations are a problem, but some are also still clinging to their hatred of one another.
After the world fell apart, humans banded together in different groups. These groups have formed “Havens” that are important to players when it comes to recruiting new troops and scavaging for supplies.
This is also where Phoenix Point stands apart from its “predecessors.” You’ll be tasked with forming alliances, and they aren’t always based on trust and friendship. Sometimes, you’ll need to double-cross factions to please others. Raids on havens can yield you arms or food or parts you badly need. You will also have new enemies.
Story lacks punch
The biggest problem with Phoenix Point is simply that the backstory doesn’t explain enough. It almost feels like needed to make sure there were weird creatures in the game and didn’t want to do an alien invasion. The mutations are interesting to some degree, but it seems to be more of a means to an end, than a real setup to the game.
Verdict: Phoenix Point brings a ton of familiarity for anyone who played the Xcom games. There’s also enough that is different from people who have played through both, or either of those games is going to have plenty of fun with this game. The only drawback is the lack of originality in the story. It’s also not the most filled out.
- Graphics rival Xcom 2
- Improvements on its spiritual predecessor such as weapon upgrades and base expansion.
- The lore makes for an interesting back story
- Enough different from Xcom and Xcom 2 that it's worth playing all the way through.
- Not a ton new from similar RTS games
- The story leading into the game leaves more questions than answers