I like to use Have You Played to highlight games that are interesting, even if they don’t always meet the mark. Phantom Doctrine is a flawed tactics game, true, but it has a very fun premise.
Matt sadly hated this cold war thriller. In his review that it has “badly delivered conspiracy natter”, and I agree with that. Phantom Doctrine also has a fair few balancing issues, not helped by some dreadful tutorials. But, and stay with me now, it’s an unpredictable game where anything could happen, and that’s why it’s exciting.
You use your spy network to compromise enemy operations, through decisions made on a world map and XCOM-style battles. You’re always trying to get ahead of the enemy via surveillance, intelligence, and espionage, just like every other spy thriller.
But executing missions emphasises being unseen more than killing targets. You’ll sneak into buildings, knock out guards, and gather intel before anyone spots you. It’s this intel that can be used to uncover enemy plans, including known agents.
Phantom Doctrine features all of the spy cliches; an agent that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into training to be a ruthless killer might be a double agent, for example. It even makes reference to MK Ultra, a section back in your base that you can use to recruit enemy agents to your cause, revealing new intel, or potentially sending them back as moles. It may not have fully resonated with me or Matt, but the slightly pulpy premise really is loads of fun, and it’s bound to click with more than a few of you.