After some delays in development, players will now have the opportunity to once again save the world from an Alien Invasion in Snapshot Games’ Phoenix Point. In this review we are going to take a deep dive into all mechanics that make what many have hoped will be a worthy successor to the XCOM franchise. Should you buy Phoenix Point? Is it worth it? How many hours of gameplay are there? How much freedom is there? How is the combat, the graphics, the performance? You will find all the answers, and more in this review.
Phoenix Point Review: High Potential, Low Budget
Developed by: Snapshot Games
Published by: Snapshot Games
Release date: December 5th, 2019
Platforms: PC, Epic Store Only (Reviewed)
Price: 39.99 USD
Phoenix Point Story and Setting Review
Phoenix Point is set in 2047, 25 years after an Alien virus called Pandoravirus was released as a consequence of the melting of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, mutating the ecosystem and bringing human society to a collapse. Players will begin the game assuming command of the Phoenix Project, a secret organization founded on 1945 to protect humanity from such an anticipated tragedy. The last leader of the Phoenix Project, Randolph Symes, was trying to figure out where the Pandoravirus came from and what could be done to stop it, but he died before finishing his project.
The Pandoravirus, and the ecosystem around it, spreads with a red Mist that mutates all lifeforms and makes humans lose their minds (just like Code Vein!). After the downfall of humanity, Havens (small protected cities and outposts) where created by survivors trying to withstand the apocalypse. Three Factions arose each of them with a different perspective of the events:
Phoenix Point Factions
New Jericho: Valuing Human Will as the foundation of freedom, they see Pandorans as a threat to the very core of human identity. They seek to develop a long-term military strategy to eventually overcome the Pandorans and take back the world for humanity.
Synedrion: Synedrion is an anarchist organization without leaders, dedicated to new technologies and freedom of thought. They aim to find a way of co-existing with the new ecosystem and Pandorans while reforming the human society at its core.
Disciples of Anu: The Disciples of Anu are a religion formed by the messianic figure known only as the Exalted. They believe that the Humans should accept the Pandoravirus and evolve to create a new world.
During the course of the game, players will be able to interact with Factions either supporting them or attacking them. There are numerous random events where players can experience the daily disputes of people living among the factions which really adds depth and immersion to the story and gameplay.
The game offers a lot of choices regarding Faction diplomacy, and exploration, and it’s very hard to maintain a good relationship between all three Factions, and most Faction Missions will lower the reputation with the other 2. As a result, players become more inclined to assist one of them, thus unlocking that Faction’s specific Research and higher tier missions. This adds a lot of replayability, and may remind you a tiny bit of the Civilization games.
Phoenix Point Gameplay Review
The Phoenix Project took a big hit during the last 25 years and only one base with limited resources and information remains. Players will have to explore and find the lost Phoenix Project bases in order to bring them back online. You will also need to follow the steps of the former leader, Randolph Symes, to uncover the truth behind the Pandoravirus, where it came from and how it can be stopped. Gameplay is divided into two core aspects: Base Management and Turn Based Strategy battles. During Base Management, one will be have decide how to build their Bases, organize their units and explore the world.
At the beginning, players will start with only one Base and few Locations will be available to explore, and the Pandoran attacks on Havens will be few and equipment will be restricted. As the game develops and you unlock Research Projects, more information will become available, units will become stronger and the Pandoran attacks on Havens will become more common. Squads will be able to keep moving between Locations but won’t recover lost Will Points or Health Points until returning to a base, forcing you to decide either to return or try to engage in less favorable fights to save up time and resources.
Squads & Combat
During Turn Based Strategy Battles, players will take command of their squad to complete different Missions such as attacking enemy bases, defending Havens from enemy attacks, securing resources on the open field and much more. Squads can be composed of both units and Vehicles. Each unit will have a distinctive Class with their own Skills and Weapon Proficiency. Vehicles provide with additional fire power, range and armor, but require many unit slots and movement can become limited because of structures on the battlefield.
Battles are divided in turns and players will have to move their units through the battlefield to complete the objectives and defeat the enemies. Units can be equipped with different Weapons, Armor, Items and rely on Action Points to perform all actions such as movement, attack, reload, etc. This new attack system completely changes the way to engage in a fight, providing many new options. There are three new core aspects:
- Limbs: All units have limbs that provide with effects on the battlefield. Limbs have their own Health Points and armor and can be disabled or destroyed by dealing damage until their Health Points reach zero. Disabling a limb may result in the loss of an ability, reduced mobility, reduced maximum health points and more. Equipment can also be targeted and destroyed which may result in negating the enemy ability to fight.
- First Person Shooting: When an enemy is at range of a unit, players will be able to select First Person Shooting. During First Person Shooting, you aim to the exact point where you want the unit to fire. Aim will still be subjected to the unit stats and the thus the area moved. Using this aiming system allows characters to disable problematic limbs of enemies reducing their threat level without the need of killing them.
- Bullet Tracking: The game will track the bullets fired and assign damage to anything they touch (both enemies and friends), providing a more realistic experience and making size and shape more relevant for units.
There are many type of enemies and each of them can have different mutations (limbs) or equipment. The game will also track what enemies are difficult or are easy for your squads to handle, and mutate them to respond accordingly. These features reward renewing your squad roster and add to the replayability of Phoenix Point.
Phoenix Point has four difficulty settings to accommodate to all players. Higher difficulty levels put the player at great disadvantage so if you are new to the genre its advisable to avoid them until you get a hold on the mechanics.
Phoenix Point Audio & Visual Review
Overall the game visuals are solid, and Phoenix Point feels dark and without many bright zones, providing a good post-apocalyptic atmosphere that pulls you into it. There are a descent amount of scenarios for every battlefield, each of them providing their own distinctive feel. Battlefields are randomized based on a scenario, but most of them end up feeling kind of the same place while fighting.
Enemy models are very good and provide that “Alien” feel when you look at them. Animations in general are good but lack variety, becoming redundant as you sink hours into the game.
Cut scenes are shown as a sequence of pictures, but the art behind them and the Voice Acting is so good that you will find yourself immediately immersed into the story.
Music was not of my liking, being both bizarre and tedious. There is no music while you are in a battle but there are enough sound effects to avoid silence. Also Voice Acting for soldiers is average at best. Audio in general is fairly good and each action performed has its own distinct sound, which makes up for the lack of good music tracks.
Phoenix Point Replayability Review
When it comes to replayability, Phoenix Point provides many options to enjoy. As previously stated, there are 4 different difficulties to select from, allowing for challenging gameplay for those looking for it. Each Faction offers unique Research Projects, and Missions, both as Friends or Foes. So siding with a different Faction will make for a different experience, extending the life of the game.
Thanks to the Enemy mutation system, you will not find foes tedious or repetitive, and having different squad loadouts will change the way battles are approached.
There are also 5 DLC coming up filled with new stuff, so there will be a good amount of new content for players to enjoy in the near future.
Phoenix Point Final Thoughts
Even after the delays, Snapshot Games has been able to create what we think is a worthy successor of the XCOM series. XCOM fans will likely enjoy the game and the new features implemented with it, while new comers will find a less complicated scheme to initiate into a good and engaging turn-based strategy game. Build your base, develop Research Projects, equip your troops and deploy them to the battlefield to save humanity from the Alien Invasion; all while trying to figure out where it all began, or siding with one of the Factions based on your convenience or personal preference.
So, Should you buy Phoenix Point? If you are into the XCOM Series or Turn Based Strategy games, this is an easy purchase. The 39.99 pricepoint is about what you’d expect for this sort of game, and if not dead on, then it’s very close. However, if you are playing for a relaxing experience, or a game with mind blowing graphics you should pass on this one.