The year is 2047, humanity has fallen. Twenty five years prior, a previously unknown virus, dubbed the Pandora Virus, with a massive size is discovered in melting permafrost. In a matter of years the worlds oceans have been transformed and send forth a microbial mist that all but destroys civilization as we know it.
The remnants of humanity huddle together in small settlements known as havens. Three major factions have grown from the chaos, although each has radically different goals and intentions for the continuation of the human species.
Enter you, a survivor who has been selected by a secret organization known as Phoenix Point. Phoenix Point is a conglomeration of scientists, engineers, and soldiers who’s primary goal is the continuity of human culture should a planet wide catastrophe take place. You are to take charge of a small cell of survivors and ensure that humanity endures, regardless of the cost.
The next generation of XCOM
For veterans of the Xcom series, Phoenix Point will feel immediately familiar. My first impression was that this was XCOM, just wearing a costume. At its core, Phoenix Point is an in-depth strategy game with turn based tactical combat developed and published by Snapshot Games.
The main focus of the game is to unite the remnants of humanity and push back encroaching forces of the Pandora Virus. This is done through a combination of base building, exploration, trade, diplomacy, and combat. This is all managed by interacting with the Geoscape, a digital representation of the surface of earth.
Diplomacy and trade…..and Raids!
There are three major Human factions that each have unique units, tech trees, and philosophies. If you support them enough they will show you the location of all of their havens, and eventually they will share all of their research and tech tress with you.
The first faction I ran into was the Disciples of Anu. A group of religious zealots who believe that humanity was wiped out by their deity, The Dead God, in order to cleanse humanity of its sin. The Disciples believe in mastering the Pandora virus and using it to mutate its population and lead to humanity salvation.
This impacts game play by providing the player with units that have useful mutations, such as the ability to mind control an enemy or tentacles to make extra melee attacks, and even vehicle sized battle creatures that can be specialized for specific roles.
The Humans First Faction
The next faction I ran into was New Jericho. Imagine if Elon Musk turned Tesla into a defense development company, survived the apocalypse and became the head of an extremely xenophobic group of human supremacists. New Jericho seeks to purge the Earth of all alien life, with no tolerance of mutation. They own some of the best military hardware from the hey day of humanity and are actively optimizing it to fight the Pandora virus and anything is not wholly human.
This faction will grant access to some of the best military tech that humanity was able to develop, with an APC being one of the units I really enjoyed deploying on some of the more difficult missions.
The Pacifist Utopians
The third and final human faction I made contact with was Synedrion. A group of utopians seeking freedom for all humans, and only engaging in violence for self defense purposes. Synedrion believes that humans are uniquely responsible for the care and nurturing of all living things on Earth.
Perhaps the least combat oriented faction, Synderion specializes in fielding units that deal massive amounts of damage or stunning enemies before fading into the shadows. They also can give access to Mist Repellers, which are absolutely crucial to mid- and late-game survival.
You’re gonna need a bigger gun….
Much of your time playing the game is going to be devoted to playing out the battles between Phoenix Point and the various other factions in game. So lets talk a little bit about how we get to those battle and how we fight them.
Each faction has specific aircraft available to them. You can either steal, or schmooze them enough, to gain access to them yourself for use with Phoenix Point forces. Some aircraft prioritize speed over carrying capacity, or vice versa, or a balanced approach. My personal favorite was the Disciples of Anu Tiamat, as it can carry those most troops, eight, but coincidentally, it is also the slowest aircraft.
Once you have an aircraft you have to have soldier to transport to battle fields and points of interest across the globe. Soldiers can be recruited through the factions havens, or picked up in events on the Geoscape. Soldiers come in one of seven flavors.
At the start of the game you only have access to three: Assault, Heavy, and Sniper. Technician, Infiltrator, Berserker, and Priest are all accessed by gaining standing with the different human factions. Most classes are heavily dependent on ranged weaponry with the exception of the Berserker. Pick those guys up early, they are super fun to smash things with. Once you’ve packed up your friends in an aircraft its time to fight!
Expect most battles to take between fifteen minutes to an hour. Your soldiers will die. It will happen, even with my super conservative play style, my soldiers would be killed. I lost one about every three missions. Twice I overestimated my abilities and had an entire fire team destroyed.
The fights over, what now?
So, you’ve won your first battle by beating back the ravenous Pandoran hordes and return to base bloodied but victorious. Lets talk about what happens then.
Find and protect more havens. Each haven is a potential recruit depot, and if you are in good enough standing you can recruit the faction specific soldier classes there after the haven has built an elite residence. As the game progresses, Pandoran forces will begin to attack these Havens, will they do have the capacity to protect themselves to an extent, assisting them can lead to better standing with the host faction, as well as rewards in the form of valuable resources.
Find more Phoenix Point installations. Your soldiers are tired and wounded. Each battle will use stamina, a limited resource that each soldier only has so much of. You must return to a Phoenix Point base to let them recover. More bases will also enable you to build more research stations, more housing for soldiers, as well as many other facilities with various capabilities.
Push back the Mist, and the Pandorans. They will come from the sea, a bright red cloud will spread across the globe and have detrimental effect on everything it touches. They will adapt to your tactics. They will evolve, and field units that counter your strategies if you utilize the same one over and over. As the Mist spreads, you will see a small red bar in the top right of the Geoscape, when that bar fills, bad things happen. Don’t let the bar fill.
Level up your soldiers, customize their armor, do research and have fun.
The Final Verdict
I have loved playing Phoenix Point. It is a really great game to play. For those of your who read my reviews regularly, you will realize I can be a little hard to please. This game left me challenged and elated at the same time.
The artwork and soundtrack were on point and complementary. The ability to customize your units is there if you want it. I have complete autonomy to pursue what ever I think is best for the good of humanity. The only reason I am not giving this game a five out of five, is that it froze on me once during an enemy turn.
Phoenix Point is available now for PC, and is console release is planned for 2020. There are currently plans for three expansions.
Final Score 4/5