Despite the controversy surrounding its jump to the Epic Games Store, I've had my eye on "Phoenix Point" for quite a while. Created by Jullian Gollop, one of the minds behind the original 1990s "XCOM" series, "Phoenix Point" freshens up that tried-and-true formula.
Time has been the development team's ally here. As you dig deeper into the game, new concepts and ideas help set "Phoenix Point" apart from other "XCOM"-alikes.
You'll still find the juicy, strategic gameplay that has always been a vital part of the genre. On top of this you'll find new mechanics, like the ability to aim freely at your enemies, and even destructible environments that allow you to change up the terrain if needed to get to a hard-hitting enemy. It all blends together for a unique yet familiar experience that should be easy for "XCOM" fans to dive right into.
When it comes to strategy, the "XCOM" games have always been great about making players think ahead and try to deliberate what move their opponents are going to make next. With "Phoenix Point," this need has become even more vital. The insane variety of enemy types and mutations make each turn a constant train of suspense that often left me feeling ready for a break after each match.
It's the ability to manually aim that really helps "Phoenix Point" shine, though. Being able to target an enemy's weapon arm, effectively removing their weapon if the hits are successful, really helps change things up from other games utilizing the "XCOM" formula. The destructible terrain also adds to the level of deep strategy, with the ability to destroy metal walls and the like to get to enemies.
Perhaps one of my favorite things, though, is the game's loose ties to Lovecraftian horror. In "Phoenix Point," a group of mutated creatures have emerged from the ocean, threatening the very existence of humanity.
All this greatness does come with some caveats. Hitboxes can be extremely wonky at times, with soldiers often shooting into metal railings or other cover when they clearly should be shooting past it. Honestly, I found myself frustrated. But overall, there's a lot to love here. While it's a technical nightmare at times, the game is a triumphant return to form for Gollop.