Phoenix Level appeared like a love letter to old-school X-COM when it was first introduced all the way in which again in 2016. With the unique designer of X-COM: UFO Protection and X-COM: Apocalypse aboard, in addition to the composer of a number of earlier titles within the franchise, my expectations had been fairly excessive as a fan of the sequence. On this overview, I ask the next query: is Phoenix Level value your hard-earned cash, or is it yet one more crowd-funded flop preying in your nostalgia for the great ol’ days?
Developer: Snapshot Video games
Writer: Snapshot Video games
Platforms: Home windows PC (Reviewed)
Launch Date: December third, 2019
Sadly, I can’t speak about Phoenix Level with out addressing the controversy related to this recreation. I received’t be docking any factors for these items, however they’re good to know as a client nonetheless.
Phoenix Level ran a profitable crowdfunding marketing campaign on Fig, elevating a complete of $768,000 and blowing previous their preliminary purpose of $500,000. On the outset of stated marketing campaign, they promised Steam keys for all backers of the challenge.
Enter Epic Video games. Snapshot Video games, to the chagrin of lots of their backers, signed an exclusivity cope with the Epic Video games Retailer. This meant that there could be a year-long window the place you could possibly solely play Phoenix Level by means of EGS, inflicting many to accuse them of breaking their promise of Steam keys and bamboozling their devoted supporters.
Regardless of them clarifying that backers would nonetheless be receiving a free Steam key after the window of exclusivity, in addition to any DLC that launched in that point, and a full refund if requested, the injury was nonetheless performed. Whereas the builders claimed this deal was to safe capital to make Phoenix Level a greater recreation, there was a groundswell of indignant followers who felt slighted by the choice.
Shifting onto the precise recreation, now. Phoenix Level is a turn-based technique recreation, very like the X-COM titles of previous. You deploy your troopers on missions, the place a fortunate shot out of your enemies can imply everlasting dying. Not like the Firaxis XCOM video games, nonetheless, there may be extra of a concentrate on diplomacy with the assorted factions in-game.
The story in Phoenix Level is as follows: Scientists uncover a spooky alien illness known as the Pandoravirus in melting permafrost. People and animals who come into contact with it flip into bizarre, deformed sea creature hybrids. The virus turned airborne after polar icecaps melted, and started to contaminate a lot of the inhabitants. In abstract, it was an actual bummer for everybody concerned.
You’re employed for the Phoenix Mission, a secretive society devoted to help humanity in occasions of worldwide hazard. After assembling one of the best remaining troopers, mechanics, and scientists at Phoenix Level, no additional directions come from the Phoenix Mission. It’s as much as you to work along with the three different factions nonetheless eking out an existence, and discover extra details about the Phoenix Mission earlier than everyone seems to be doomed.
The opposite teams nonetheless alive on this alien hellscape are The Disciples of Anu, Synedrion, and New Jericho.
The Disciples of Anu are a faction mixing the beliefs of Abrahamic religions with these of doomsday cults. They worship an Alien god, and look at the Pandoravirus as a blessing and a curse. They’ve created alien-human hybrids by straight exposing folks to the mist, whereas permitting them to maintain their human consciousness.
Synedrion are a sophisticated technological faction who want to coexist with the mutated victims of the Pandoravirus, viewing these lifeforms as a official a part of Earth’s setting. They worth data above all else, and want to rebuild Earth right into a land of peaceable coexistence between residents and the setting.
New Jericho are a balls-to-the-wall militaristic faction, who search to eradicate the Pandoravirus with superior firepower. Their resolution is to bomb the heck out of every thing.
The very first thing you’ll understand whereas taking part in is that these factions don’t get alongside in any respect. They may typically butt heads with each other, having wildly completely different concepts about how you can cope with the Pandoravirus and the creatures that resulted from it. In the event you help one faction, you’ll discover that one other will disapprove. Conserving all of them blissful concurrently is fairly troublesome.
The gameplay of Phoenix Level is a blended bag. It has a substantial amount of complexity to it, however that doesn’t all the time translate into a greater recreation expertise.
After an especially hand-holdy tutorial, you lastly get your first style of the fight. Not like the newer XCOM video games, Phoenix Level permits you to free-aim along with your weapons, considerably akin to Valkyria Chronicles. This eliminates the sensation of every thing being a easy cube roll, and in addition provides you the flexibility to disable sure physique components of your enemies, with varied results.
There are seven lessons, which have distinctive talents, even when most of them really feel like boring stat boosts. You additionally unlock the flexibility to multi-class at a sure degree, which opens up new alternatives in your troopers, a few of that are overpowered as all get-out.
With every degree, your troopers acquire plenty of factors to allocate to their stats. These had been no-brainers more often than not although, and most of my items ended up leveling alongside the identical vein. It felt just like the attributes and expertise had been an enormous work in progress, and paled compared to Firaxis’ XCOM video games and their extra variable construct paths.
The most important situation with Phoenix Level, in my estimation, is the enemy AI. It’s utterly braindead. I can’t inform you what number of occasions an enemy had certainly one of my troopers lifeless to rights, however opted to shoot a wall three ft to their proper as a substitute of getting into for the kill. They can even pull off baffling maneuvers once in a while, making a full dash and ending their flip for seemingly no cause.
The mission sorts develop fairly previous as nicely, particularly those which have you ever defending and recovering provide crates. With the way in which Phoenix Level procedurally generates the sport maps, you may typically find yourself with just a few crates deep in enemy territory, all however guaranteeing you received’t get to them in time earlier than the Pandoravirus creatures destroy them.
Diplomacy with the factions in-game performs an enormous position in your expertise, as most of your technological advances are made by means of growing relationships with them. That is nice in a way, however considerably disappointing in others. For instance, I are inclined to benefit from the simple tech timber in Firaxis’ XCOM video games, and Phoenix Level may be very stingy with supplying outright higher weapons and equipment than what you have already got.
I additionally skilled fairly egregious slowdown and framerate drops throughout sure actions. Moreover, Phoenix Level doesn’t mean you can tab over to the following soldier when your presently chosen unit is making a transfer, forcing you to attend till your entire animation has accomplished. That is solely mildly annoying at first, however grows increasingly irritating as the sport goes on.
The music and sound design, fortunately, are fairly nice. The composer of X-COM: UFO Protection, Terror From the Deep, and Apocalypse reprises his position for Phoenix Level, and a few of the tracks do an exquisite job establishing environment and temper. The weapons all sound punchy and satisfying, and the aliens make sufficiently bizarre and disturbing sounds as they try and homicide you.
The visuals on show are good, particularly the alien designs, although I really feel the artwork route was influenced a bit an excessive amount of by Firaxis’ XCOM titles. Your troopers look very very like rejected designs from these video games, and I might have appreciated a extra distinct look for them.
All in all, Phoenix Level is a half-decent successor to the X-COM video games of previous, however has a extreme lack of polish that holds it again from being one thing actually particular. That is particularly dangerous contemplating the sport already had a significant delay, however nonetheless launched in such a state. Horrible enemy AI, tedious missions, and a less-than-satisfying development loop make it a recreation I don’t see myself revisiting till it has acquired a good quantity of updating.
Nevertheless, I can’t say I hated my time with the sport. I like turn-based technique, and there’s sufficient great things right here to justify a purchase order if Phoenix Level goes on sale. I give it a tenuous suggestion to followers of XCOM, although it may be finest to attend for its eventual launch on Steam. It will permit time for the devs to iron issues out, which they desperately have to do.
Phoenix Level was reviewed on Home windows PC utilizing a overview copy supplied by Snapshot Video games. You could find further details about Area of interest Gamer’s overview/ethics coverage here.