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Phantom Brigade – Review

Phantom Brigade is a game made by the developers at Brace Yourself Games. A hybrid turn-based and real-time tactical RPG, focusing on in-depth customization and player-driven stories. As the last surviving squad of mech pilots, you must capture enemy equipment and facilities to level the playing field. Outnumbered and out-gunned, lead the brigade through a desperate campaign to retake their war-torn homeland. 

Early Access

Phantom Brigade is still in early access but there is a lot going for this game. Big thing is the turn-based and real-time nature of the game. It confused me when I first read about it, but it’s an interesting concept. The mechs you pilot have a new prototype that allows you to see a small amount of time into the future allowing you to plan ahead in the timeline what your actions will be in the following 5 seconds. Using the timeline at the bottom of the screen, you can set out move, attack, dash, or shield orders in a paused timeline giving it its turn-based element.

When you are happy with your actions, you resume time and all players will begin to move again. Giving it its real-time element. An interesting way to play a game 

Gameplay

After each battle you win, you can salvage the mechs you defeated for parts to upgrade your mechs to be faster, heavier, or have new abilities. This mechanic goes into a lot of detail as well, with multiple mech parts for the body, legs, left and right arms, each having different perks and advantages for you to customize to your play style. All in-depth from the armor and shield ranges, down to the weight, cooling, and even the servos that are in the joints and cores in the bodies.

After you have crafted the superior mech of your dreams, you can slap on a new coat of paint with a handful of paint options. Nothing is cut short in this game, including the overworld. The map is huge with multiple cities, towns, and farms to battle in, with random encounters along the way.

In the overworld, you drive to each sector trying to raise the morale to 100 to capture the zone and turn it into a safe zone. The safe zones are important for three reasons: one, you can construct items like smoke screens to avoid a battle with a patrol if you wish to, two, there are no patrols in safe zones which leads to three, they are the best place to allow your pilots to rest when they’re fatigued.

Yeah, that’s right. Your pilots get tired and that can affect them in combat. The more fatigue they have, the more susceptible they are to concussive damage, which means if they get hit or crash into another mech there’s a chance they’ll be knocked out and will no longer be able to fight. Leaving you short a man in the battle isn’t a situation you want.

Roadmap

As stated before, this game is in early access and still needs some improvements. Not saying this game is bad at all, but it does need some tweaks to make it the best. Luckily, they have put the road map for the next three months in the game.

December being a quality-of-life update, January a Campaign Update, and February being an Arsenal update, all with the details right there to see. Which is great and means they are dedicated to finishing the game and hearing the players’ opinions and make the game they want to play. 

So, that leads to the shortcomings of the game. One being the combat system itself, which is just a little awkward to use. When you want to engage in combat, you must select the combat button and place it on the timeline in the time zone you wish to use it.

This is something I keep forgetting to do as I keep trying to select the enemies first and forgetting to place it in the timeline, and on most occasions, it is set at the end of the time and into the next timeframe. I don’t think this is the fault of the game but it is a bit of a learning curve and may take players a good number of times before they catch on.

Another issue is with the overworld when you are going to the battle grounds. You are given no information on the enemies, only a series of dots. I thought two green dots meant that you have a good chance of winning but that’s not the case.

Entering the battlefield, you could soon be up against mechs that clearly outclass you and will almost assuredly stomp you. I see this being updated in the quality-of-life update because this can’t just be a “me” issue, or I’m just reading things wrong which could be a valid explanation. 

Summary

But overall, this is a fantastic game, and if you’re a big fan of strategy games you will want Phantom Brigade in your Steam library.

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