Watch our review of Phoenotopia: Awakening, a brand new side-scrolling RPG…
We’ll tell you everything you need to know before you play, including what to expect from the gameplay, graphics, aesthetic and more!
Hey how’s it going guys! Welcome to our review of Phoenotopia: Awakening, available exclusively on Nintendo Switch. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know before you play, but before I do, make sure to hit subscribe and the notification bell for more game reviews every single week. You’re not going to want to miss it. And many thanks to Cape Cosmic for letting us play Phoenotopia: Awakening early!
Zelda-inspired RPGs are a dime a dozen nowadays, particularly on the Nintendo Switch. That means it takes something truly special to stand out from the rest. Cape Cosmic are the latest developers to try their hand at doing just this with the release of Phoenotopia: Awakening.
A complete remake of a legendary flash game made by the same team, you play the role of Gail, a simple villager who’s thrust centre stage when all the adults are abducted by a mysterious spaceship. As the eldest one left, it’s up to you to solve the mystery and ultimately save the world from an evil force lurking in the shadows. But does it do enough to set itself apart from its role playing competition? Watch on to find out….
Firstly, Phoenotopia gives you a lot of game for your money. Even a brisk play through will take you 25 hours, and a completionist run can take more than double that. But bigger doesn’t always mean better. Fortunately, by and large there’s plenty of variety in the gameplay to keep you from getting bored. This is a proper, old school side scrolling RPG, with both ranged and close combat, recipes to cook up, conversation trees and more.
Controlling Gail is also a lot of fun. Sprinting, dash jumps and vertical maps gives you the opportunity to approach things either fast and headstrong, or slower and more methodical.
What’s more, there’s a satisfying level of progression, in which you improve your health and stamina by completing environmental puzzles. This gives the whole game a nice difficulty curve, as you level up at roughly the same rate as the enemies your face. But remember, this is a love letter to an era of much less forgiving games, so don’t expect an easy ride.
Looking to graphics, the world is incredibly pretty. I’m a sucker for pixel art, and Phoenotopia does a lot with a little to make each area feel unique and surprisingly fleshed out. A skeleton might appear to be placed just for aesthetic purposes, when in actual fact it can be hacked at to reveal hidden treasure. It’s these little touches that make the whole world feel all the more immersive.
With that being said, it’s these retro throwbacks that might put off some players. The story is great, but much like the RPGs of old, it isn’t spoonfed to you. Instead, you’ll have to discover it yourself through conversations and environmental exposition. This worked for me, as I prefer to discover the narrative at my own pace, it makes everything feel a little more authentic, and the extra effort proves to be all the more satisfying.
What I did find lacking was the absence of a few modern features we now take for granted. No autosave function means you have to be extra careful with your health and supplies until you find the next save point. Again, this might work for some people, but for someone looking for an easier, more breezy play through, it can be particularly punishing. Perhaps the option to toggle autosave on and off would’ve been the best middle ground.
To wrap up, this is the release the minds behind the original flash game always wanted to make. It’s dripping with charm, satisfying gameplay and plenty of variety to keep you entertained. Just be warned it’s not an easy ride, and younger players will have to learn to live without the mod cons of current games. But if you can get in the retro headspace, this is one of the best RPG titles to release in 2020. Here’s hoping for a full European release soon!
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