Phantom Brigade Review in 3 Minutes Brace Yourself Game extremely repetitive mech strategy tactical game

Phantom Brigade Review in 3 Minutes – Extremely Repetitive Mech Strategy

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Phantom Brigade is a turn-based real-time strategy game by Brace Yourself Games. It’s a mech game where each turn you plan out your actions on a timeline of events before they execute in real time, and then you watch the consequences of your decisions.

For the most part, actions are predictable because the game tells you what actions your opponents will take on the next turn. This gives your plans something to build off and avoids your shooting at nothing. However, the game doesn’t give reliable damage predictions. You end up guessing how many shots you’ll need to kill an enemy or whether an enemy attack will kill or barely scratch you.

The game’s melee system is bad. When the prediction says it will hit, and the enemies appear to pass right through your blade, it doesn’t always hit, and damage feels inconsistent. Add the crash system, whereby collisions with larger enemies will sometimes paralyze smaller mechs, and melee is unreliable to the point that it’s not fun.

There are fundamentally two enemy types — mechs and tanks. Sometimes the mechs will have different weapons, but the tactics are always exactly the same — move to partially avoid their attacks, and shoot them. Maps are technically different but feel roughly the same, since any variety doesn’t change how you play.

Phantom Brigade allows you to move freely, and each action must be placed on the timeline and aimed. It ends up being a fiddly, overly precise system. Any serious battle takes half an hour or more just because you’re stuck micromanaging every aspect of the battle. For a while, that’s fun — it’s a precise, unique system. But it’s so tedious that it builds up over time and becomes more frustrating than fun, especially with your units randomly getting blown up because of imperfect information.

After each fight you return to the map and move your mobile base to another objective, which is either a fight or a period of waiting. The map has fast-forward settings to avoid excessive waiting, but the map is more or less the same thing over and over. You’re attempting to reclaim your homeland region by region, and within each region you fight and wait the same way each time.

Random events like finding a dog or getting a tip from a civilian shake things up but don’t save the map from tedium. There are upgrades to your mobile base, but there’s little sense of progression. You just keep moving around, contesting regions, and fighting almost identical battles.

Mech customization is fueled by salvaging enemy mechs after battle. You can equip two arms, two weapons, a torso, and legs, and there’s a decent variety in all of these, with an impressive range of weapons in particular. Tweaking your mech is genuinely fun, even though the steady increase in power of the parts you maintain means you’re constantly going back to tweak.

Phantom Brigade is monotonous. Even a few hours of not knowing whether your shots will kill and fighting the same battle with the same tactics over and over will make you seriously question if it’s worth playing to the end.

However, Phantom Brigade is objectively a well-made game. It looks and sounds nice, and the combat system is fun, if short-lived. I like mech strategy games and wanted to like this game.

If you like mech strategy games and don’t mind repeating the same fight for dozens of hours, Phantom Brigade’s interesting and fun combat system will suit you just fine. But I didn’t enjoy this game at all after its first few hours because the game has no variety, and I struggle to recommend it.

Phantom Brigade is out now on PC for 29.99.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Phantom Brigade.

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Elise Avery
Elise Avery is a freelance video editor and writer who has written for The Escapist for the last year and a half. She has written for PCGamesN and regularly reviews games for The Escapist's YouTube channel. Her writing focuses on indie games and game design, as well as coverage of Nintendo titles.