Published on September 21st, 2020 | by Boouya
Phoenotopia Review (Nintendo Switch)
Summary: Alien and Vaults..? Phoenotopia takes place on Earth after a war that ravaged the planet has ended many normal citizens who had taken shelter in large Vaults (Think Fallout just less brooding). Once they are believed they are safe they return to the surface and try to rebuild the world. Unfortunately for them Aliens have come and are abducting whole villages, This is where you come in, you play as Gail who whilst tracking down the children of the Village to come and eat their dinner, is unaware that everyone in the village has been taken prisoner by the dastardly aliens!
Phoenotopia is a 2-D action adventure game in the style of games like Zelda 2 and Cave Story, strip away the Fantastic Pixel Art and you will find the true beast beneath. However be prepared to respawn over and over again as Phoenotopia is out for Blood.. Your Blood..
Alien and Vaults..?
Phoenotopia takes place on Earth after a war that ravaged the planet has ended many normal citizens who had taken shelter in large Vaults (Think Fallout just less brooding). Once they are believed they are safe they return to the surface and try to rebuild the world. Unfortunately for them Aliens have come and are abducting whole villages. This is where you come in, you play as Gail who whilst tracking down the children of the Village to come and eat their dinner, is unaware that everyone in the village has been taken prisoner by the dastardly aliens!
Now for the difficulty
Phoenotopia is punishing, if you are easily frustrated then this game is not for you, the learning curve is Steep and starts from the beginning of the game. Right at the beginning the first weapon you are given is a Bat; now normally bats are useful early game weapons in Phoenotopia this could not be more wrong, due to the pitifully small swing range, you have to be right at the enemy to hit it which in turn causes you to take damage. If this was not already hard you are also given a stamina bar.
A stamina bar which I can say drains very quickly and always in the worst possible situations. This is not a game where you can sprint through whacking everything you see. Phoenotopia is a game more about pattern recognition and Trial and Error. To help you through the game there are numerous upgrades and weapons to find and purchase which increases the all important Health and Stamina bars. This does come after you have felt thoroughly beaten by the first dungeon.
The game like in Zelda 2 has an overworld map which you can explore. During this exploration you will be set upon by various enemies which then takes the game to a 2-D side scroller like the aforementioned Zelda 2. Whilst this game does allow for exploration and there are many side quests and activities to do the game also seems to funnel the player around in such a way that you never stray into areas that your current skills and equipment can not handle.
Through the exploration of dungeons you will find many puzzles that you must solve, this includes moving boxes to help you jump to reach new areas. Phoenotopia gives the player a want to search every little area as you are almost always rewarded with some treasure or exposition. Many items that you collect along the way can mean more treasure to be found if you back track; whilst not a necessary thing to do it adds to overall exploration and makes you want to search out those new areas in old dungeons. Back tracking also makes this game feel more like real word rather than just levels in a Mario Game.
At almost 25 hours in length in you only stick to the main storyline, Phoenotopia definitely has the legs of a long haul game, with extra areas and backtracking I could easily see you a player adding another 10/15 hours of gameplay.
Artistically beautiful both Visual and Sound
Whilst the difficulty can put a lot of players off, one aspect that definitely attracts people is the overall visual presentation and art style. The use of Pixel Art in Phoenotopia really lends itself to the 2-D gameplay style. Everywhere you look in the dungeons you will find highly detailed sprites and backgrounds.
Accompanying the Art Style is a rather beautiful soundtrack that really adds to the game giving each area a unique feeling and atmosphere. I would really recommend people listen to the soundtrack which will be released soon on Bandcamp.
Overall Phoenotopia is a very beautiful looking game that does well at hiding its punishing difficulty, whilst people who are looking for a Zelda 2 style game may be attracted to this title, the more causal amongst us will find it very difficult to enjoy the later aspects of the game where in truth the game gets easier.