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Please stay in your seats if, at times during this review, you notice a presence in the shadows. Don’t be alarmed, in fact, should you notice a silhouette wearing a suit and tie – he’s just here to make his influence known. And if he seems familiar, there’s a good reason: the council of XCOM looms over Phoenix Point, and they won’t let you forget it. This is a game about resuscitating an intergovernmental military force dedicated to stopping a global invasion. Where researching the adversary and its weapons gives you a fighting chance to turn the tide. Where the only way to meet the threat is down on the ground, with a few good soldiers arrayed against enemies unknown.
Phoenix Point would be easily dismissed as mimicry, were it not directed by Julian Gollop, the designer of the original, 1994 X-COM. After all, it’s difficult to begrudge a man leapfrogging the developers he’s inspired. What elevates this game beyond a victory lap, however, are the ways in which it undoes the streamlining of the turn-based tactics genre.