Genre: Action, RPG, Strategy
Developer: CreativeForge Games
Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Release Date: Aug 14, 2018
Edited by Thorstag
Randomness, something that you usually want less of in games, be it the random failure of a gun in a shooter to a worker failing to build something in a management sim. So why do so many people seem to like games that take the playstyle of the x-com games which punish you with crippling randomness? Phantom Doctrine is very true to that, punishing you for overextending but still being very interesting and making you want to continue despite making you pull your hair out for having to restart a map, again.
When I first started the game, I wasn’t interested in the story, wanting more for the gameplay offered. It only took two missions before I was deeply entrenched into the story and caring about what happened to the agents under my care and command. The story takes place during the cold war. At the start, you can select to either side with the United States and their allies or the Soviet Union and theirs. I’m not gonna spoil anything, but the story was very good, drawing me in despite the few details given at first, and later on, you could unlock the 3rd group. The game really got you to care for the agents under your care to the point where I restarted several missions because my fave agent died at the last minute to something stupid, like an unseen sniper or the enemy coming out of the one place I couldn’t see. I would constantly be cursing the game because I couldn’t see an enemy that I had no way to know was there until he rounded the corner during his turn, or the enemy was able to shoot me because I missed with a ninety-five percent chance to hit. I know that is the draw to x-com games, but it still felt cheap, especially early on, as there is no way to unlock any item to help this until several missions into the game.
Phantom Doctrine looks absolutely gorgeous, each character so unique that no two agents were the same, and if some were, they had a character creator you could use to change someone up, for a price. Each map looked unique as well, and though I did have a little trouble navigating the dark maps at first, I quickly adapted to the gritty darkness that was in the majority of maps. For those who have a harder time seeing in the dark, they even have it so you could raise your brightness setting though I would recommend not too high. Phantom Doctrine, despite its gorgeous looks, actually had, in my opinion, a rather poor base design, though. If you didn’t have the UI there to point out what each room was and where it was located, I would never be able to navigate between the rooms, let alone to get to some places like the giant wall of conspiracy you frequently need to navigate to. This carried over into the battles as well, despite the really good UI I was unable to figure out how to do some actions even if they seemed simple. The developers just never gave a tutorial or expected people to be able to pick it up on their own. This lack of guidance really created a large challenge for me at the beginning. I hadn’t played any games that consisted of this style of gameplay in a while. I know excessive tutorials get boring for people who have played the game before or games like it, but it can really help new players like myself.
The best part of the game for me has to be the sound design. I truly got sucked into the world; every sound has me thinking an enemy could be around the wall, or I was about to get the jump on a whole crew. The music was even better, I considered listening to the soundtrack several times, but had to quit as all it did was make me want to jump back into the game even when I couldn’t. I do have to say the sound design was so good it was driving me a little paranoid at one point as I was sure the enemy was just behind the wall, I could hear their footsteps. You could hear the water drips from pipes and rats squeaking as they run around your very unhygienic base.
Phantom Doctrine is a good game, despite the randomness and frustration that can come from that. I constantly wanted to go back to the game, including installing it on my mum’s laptop so I could play offline well on the go. It looks beautiful and is very enjoyable, but I can’t help but knock it down a few points for not being very welcoming to new players.
- Very good sound design
- Rewarded good strategy but didn’t punish the people who couldn’t figure out what to do
- Pretty good story
- Lack of tutorials
- Hard to tell where things are if not pointed out directly
Chebkitty gives Phantom Doctrine a Drastik Measure of 8.5 out of 10 (85)
You can find it on Steam for $39.99