A promising setting and clever systems are let down by simple enemies, simpler characters, and strange balancing.
The campaign itself can feel drawn out at times thanks to a less-than-stellar story and some obviously recycled content, but there's a real thrill in executing covert missions and putting all the pieces together like a master spy.
An inspired XCOM clone, whose spy movie atmosphere inspires an emphasis on stealth rather than action – which is a good job given the somewhat flawed combat.
Phantom Doctrine demands the patience and calculation of a cold-blooded assassin, but the methodical style of play is rewarding
Phantom Doctrine blends several complex mechanics and a well-realized Cold War setting into one brilliantly engaging experience.
If you're someone who lives a life of danger, if everyone you meet is a stranger or perhaps you find that with every move you make another chance you take, then Phantom Doctrine is ideal for you. For everyone else, this is a deep and compelling tactical strategy game that provides innovation in a stagnant genre. I'll be playing it long after I've finished reviewing it, and I can think of no higher praise than that.
I enjoyed the idling moments between missions when I felt like the director of a secret team of spies almost as much as I enjoyed directing the spies on the ground, and the overall experience is one I'd recommend to any fan of turn-based tactics or cold war skullduggery.
This tactical espionage game gives little chance to hone your skills, leaving you dependent on luck
There's some unique aspects that I hope are observed by other developers but there are better strategy titles out there like Invisible Inc. that do the core basics better.
Yet the gameplay and plot never lived up to its potential, and my expectations slowly lowered themselves into a shallow grave as the gameplay, initially full of potential, let me down through repetitive gameplay and a cliché plot.
Phantom Doctrine is a superb slice of Cold War espionage storytelling tied to a serviceable turn-based strategy. A harsh difficulty curve awaits, but there's reward to be found.
A Cold War XCOM clone with enemy spies instead of aliens, Phantom Doctrine is a largely enjoyable strategy title. The awareness system means you have more control over the flow of combat, and the setting is well presented, rife with atmosphere and charm. However, the punishing difficulty and steep learning curve do take the edge off things every now and then.
Phantom Doctrine is the closest we ever got so far to a true spy simulator. With both tactical and strategic missions, deep and complex mechanics, and investigation features, playing the game will make players truly feel in control of a secret organization out to save the world from the mostly deadly world conspiracy ever. The game gets a bit too complex at times, however, so it is definitely not a game for everyone.
Phantom Doctrine from CreativeForge uses the collective Cold War imagery to build one of the absolute benchmarks for modern turn based tactical games, excellent in almost every aspect.
Review in Italian | Read full review
Phantom Doctrine certainly shares plenty of DNA with the much-adored XCOM series, but it lacks the polish that's made the likes of XCOM 2 such an enduring example of how to do tactics right. When Phantom Doctrine really doubles down on the minutiae of its spycraft – including the solving conspiracies and the stealth-focused nature of its missions – its own personality shines through. It's certainly scrappy here and there – especially when it comes to managing the meta of its spy network – but push past these imperfections and you'll have plenty of licence for kills (and the occasional thrill).
All its ambitions, intelligent ideas and passion for the genre of espionage do not finish working at all.
Review in Spanish | Read full review
You might well find the evocative, smoke-damaged backdrop of ‘80s espionage fresh enough to carry you through a satisfying playthrough. But even with the plates changed and the serial number filed off, there's no mistaking XCOM 2.
The game is full of good ideas but the action/combat part is painful, because of an too powerful AI. In short, the game is no bad but the "action part" is not as good as it should be to feel a real pleasure. It's a shame for a game with brilliant ideas.
Review in French | Read full review
Phantom Doctrine has a lot of competition in the broader turn-based strategy genre and its unique Cold War-era setting isn't quite enough to really set it apart when all the cards are down. While the setting is great and fresh, the generally lackluster gameplay and mismatch of mechanics hold it back from feeling as clean as it should. Its best moments seem to happen almost completely at random or by accident instead of by design.
Between the engaging base management and tense espionage missions, Phantom Doctrine is genuinely excellent at times. However, the frustrating combat and often unhelpful tutorials slide this tactical-stealth release down a few pegs.