The creative mind behind the foundations of the critically acclaimed X-COM franchise, Julian Gollop returns with his new studio Snapshot Games to deliver its spiritual successor: Phoenix Point. This title has grand plans to deliver the challenging strategic combat made famous by the X-COM series alongside in-depth character progression, conflict on a global scale, and all-new story. Does it match up to its more experienced predecessor?
Phoenix Point Review
Phoenix Point centers around several factions fighting for control and survival as an extraterrestrial virus, known as the Pandoravirus, spreads through a mysterious mist, mutating animals and humans alike into deadly abominations with claw, pincers, mandibles, mind control, and everything in-between.
You front an elite squadron in the Phoenix Project. Once a trusted global organization that was shunned into secrecy, it now consists of a few cells of the bravest and brightest humanity has to offer. Faced with the extinction of the human race, you’re tasked with uniting the factions, defeating the alien threat, and learning the fate of the rest of the Phoenix Project. Sounds simple enough, right?
Each of the different factions in Phoenix Point tackle the impending threat from different perspectives. The Disciples of Anu are a cult-like faction that believe the developing of human-alien hybrids is the best way for humanity to survive, the New Jericho faction are your typical military response to a large-scale threat (nuke it from orbit), and the Synedrion are a technically advanced group of radicals.
The factions are interwoven into the narrative and the core gameplay mechanics, making them a vital aspect of the Phoenix Point experience. Events occur throughout the game that will test your loyalties to each faction and provide questions that test your morals. Players will be able to traverse this minefield following a different route each time. For my initial playthrough, I decided to work alongside New Jericho and Synedrion, but objectives and events arose that saw the two enter all-out war. What began as a mutually beneficial relationship that had us sharing aid and technologies descended into a war on multiple fronts – and that’s ignoring the constant threat of the mist.
Phoenix Point operates over two basic systems. The Geoscape challenges players to explore, discover new Havens, encounter new tribes, research new technologies and manage vital resources, while the challenging combat tests your strategic prowess to its limits.
The Geoscape is dynamically generated each game. Although it’s still Earth, the events, locations, and challenges you face change. In the early hours of the game, you’ll be using your single aircraft to transport troops to find resources, defend allies from invasion, and continue to uncover the secrets of the alien invasion. As time passes, the Pandorans become more aggressive, the mist travels further inland, and resources become scarce. It gets real tough, real fast. Towards the end of the game, I was managing four aircraft and nearly 20 different soldiers, each of which has their own character progression, equipment, and customization options.
For players unfamiliar with the X-COM franchise, Phoenix Point’s Geoscape could definitely become overwhelming. It’s not uncommon to be tracking down six to seven different objectives, all the while reacting and responding to an ever-changing and evolving threat. While this sometimes creates an exciting feeling …