Phantom Brigade’s unique take on turn-based tactical RPGs piqued my interest heading into PAX East. The further I dug in, I realized that Phantom Brigade had something else that I love: mechs. The final straw was the focus on making all combat cinematic. There were a lot of ideas in this game that had me excited, and the total package did not disappoint.
Table of Contents
I don’t want to take too much from the description supplied by Brace Yourself Games, the developer, but they did a great job. Phantom Brigade is focused on turn-based combat, the customization you would expect from an RPG, and stories driven by the player.
You play as the last surviving squad of mech pilots battling against an insurmountable force. You need to be smart, crafty, and salvage equipment to get by. The campaign promises to offer a sense of desperation related to taking back your home.
While the premise is cool, what was most outstanding to me in my fifteen minutes with the game was the gameplay.
The demo kicked off with some standard tutorial stuff. Move here, take cover there, the traditional stuff that you would expect. Then, the twist comes. The bad guys show up, and it is revealed to you that you have a cool contraption that allows you to see the future. This ability to see the future means that combat happens simultaneously, but you can see what your enemies are going to do.
The tactical combat of Phantom Brigade becomes interesting due to the simultaneous nature of the moves. You effectively orchestrate out combat via a timeline. What this offers up is the ability to take on larger forces with a much smaller squad.
This mechanic of a small squad that defeats a large army was developed on purpose. In talking with the folks at Brace Yourself Games, the anime Gundam was referenced. The fact traditional stories involving mechs include such displays of power, was a driving factor in wanting to make the player feel powerful.
Phantom Brigade also adds additional elements of tactics to the gameplay. For instance, friendly fire is something to think about. Also, if you shoot while running between buildings, you are likely to collapse the entire structure.
Honestly, the entire tactics portions of the combat felt terrific. When the fight plays out, in all of its cinematic glory, it also looks impressive.
I loved my time with Phantom Brigade. I got a little tripped up on planning combat via the timeline mechanic at first, but towards the end of the demo, I was cruising. When the demo ended, I was sad, honestly. I wanted more of the game.
There were a few mechanics pointed out to me at the end of the demo that I did not fully catch on to during playing. One of these included localized damage. A mech can take damage to the arms, legs, body, etc. At one point, I downed and destroyed and enemy mech by taking out its legs.
Another mechanic I missed revolved around that downed mech. Destroying enemy mechs is a bad idea. Keeping them intact allows you to salvage parts and upgrade your units. Knowing that your decisions may affect your upgrade paths is a tantalizing bit of info.
The last bit of gameplay that I did not get to see during the demo involved high-level strategy elements. The final version of Phantom Brigade will allow you to do things like manage your base and allot your resources.
Overall, I am in love with what Phantom Brigade is trying to do. The slice of the game I played looked great, played well, and had interesting mechanics. If Brace Yourself Games follows through on what was in the demo, they have a real winner.
Look out for Phantom Brigade on Epic Store, early access, sometime in 2020. The 1.0 build is targeted for release on Epic Store and Steam in 2021.
Make sure to follow Gamezo for all of your gaming news and reviews!