Mixing XCOM-style turn-based strategy with an alternate history Cold War conspiracy thriller, Phantom Doctrine is a sneaky spymaster’s dream. Essentially, it’s a game played in two parts. The first sees you manage operations back at the home base of The Cabal – an organisation trying to prevent some shadowy ne’er do wells from destabilising the world. Here you can perform basic tasks such as recruiting and training secret agents, sending them to monitor situations around the globe, or investigating one of the many clues you’ve gathered on your missions to uncover more of the conspiracy.
Some advanced techniques are also at your disposal. You can improve your agents’ skills in specific areas by tinkering with experimental drugs and interrogate captured enemy agents to try and turn them to your side.
The second half of the game will be familiar to anyone who’s played a turn-based strategy game, though with a few neat twists. While agents deployed on a mission can spend their actions to move, attack enemies or complete objectives, your options aren’t limited to going in all guns blazing. You can take a stealthy approach, wear disguises or – if you run into an agent you planted a trigger phase in at your base earlier – activate the enemy to join your side.
CreativeForge Games has already shown its understanding of the genre with the confident Hard West. Phantom Doctrine feels like the next step up to deliver a vast and engrossing strategy game.