Thursday, 16 August 2018 15:33

REVIEW: Phantom Doctrine (PC)

Written by Kevin Lal
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(9 votes)

I raise my Fedora in respect.

CreativeForge Games is a team of 50 developers based in Warsaw, Poland with experience in previous titles such as Hard West and Ancient Space. They have a unique eye for detail and are creating some very well-presented games. They have teamed up with publisher Good Shepherd Entertainment, as from previous reviews you can start to understand GSE are making some bold moves with their titles and are producing some amazing work. They work very hard to publish Indie games and give them the required space in the industry to get noticed.

From the opening title screen, I am gripped. The noir and detective style office accompanied by the 50’s style music is just an era I am always fascinated by. You have the option of two styles when playing Phantom Doctrine, Regular which is simplified narrative or Extended which delves deeper into the story. An additional feature is Ironman Mode, which is a setting allowing no saves or checkpoints and upon game over you will need to begin all over. Then comes the character set up, allowing three backgrounds to be chosen. CIA, KGB and a third unlocked after one playthrough. It is a nice little touch to the game and style. These alter the opening of the story of the game and a different perspective.

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It took me by surprise the amount of character detail you can alter, even down to the physique and style of your character. They have truly built the game around the idea of being entranced in this world, making it feel more personal and in depth.

The games mechanics are very reminiscent of XCOM, beginning with an infiltration stage. Within this stage you are able to move around and will only cause a reaction on suspicious activity. You need to use Action Points (AP) and Fire Points (FP) depending on your circumstances, once these are depleted that is the end of your turn. As for anyone unfamiliar with these styles of games, they are turn based. Making sure to be in the safest and best position to counter the enemies next move. There are restricted areas called the Red Zones and if you are spotted within these an alarm will be raised. 

So, you have to choose your moves carefully, pre-empting their next move. In a lot of ways it is like a game of chess, trying to think moves ahead to gain the best results. You can hover over certain enemies and gain their patrol paths, allowing you to calculate your move and lessen the risk of failure. You can alter your camera angle and look around your surroundings. This is extremely useful when looking out for security and cameras. As long as you do not enter their field of vision you are safe, but they can also be disabled using terminals located around the area. You have many uses of skills, one in particular is the control phrase allowing you to take over an enemy agent and go around unnoticed.

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With the fight system in Phantom Doctrine you are best to face opponents that have a lower HP than yourself to succeed in silent takedowns. Another useful skill is Spotter Support, allowing you to lift the fog of war. This enables you to reveal enemies and civilians in closed rooms. This comes from a handy agent located in an advantage point allowing them to see what you yourself cannot. Non-suppressed weapons will always begin combat and raise alarms. This is a piece of information you need to consider when performing room breaches.

The game feels so intense with its fast and up beat music on an alarm raised to the moments when it is calm, and you feel that subtle change in the music to allow you to rest easy for the time being. Once all missions and objectives are complete you can call in EVAC which can take a few turns to arrive, so you have to be careful in your movements to reach the EVAC point uninjured. But in true action fashion you can request Overwatch, where your partnered agent can keep watch on specific areas that allow shooting on sight of any enemies that cross the path.

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Graphically this game is so well polished, it does exactly what is needed to give you the atmosphere of a spy/detective genre with a dark and noir twist. Controls are simple, but the strategies are in depth making it a challenge to master. I was genuinely taken back by this game, as I personally was not a fan of this style since the SWAT game days, but this has rekindled my fire.

I would highly recommend this title as an experience to be added to your gaming history. CreativeForge Games are masters in their work and if nothing they have tempted me to try previous titles. I raise my fedora to you.

Additional Info

  • Review Score: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Release Date: Out Now
  • Platform: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE
  • Developer: CreativeForge Games
  • Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment
  • Genre: Strategy, Role-Playing, Action