Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

[Review] Phoenotopia Awakening – Nintendo Switch

By Brett Hrin Sep 5, 2020

Developed By: Cape Cosmic
Published By: Cape Cosmic
Category: Adventure, Action, RPG, Platformer, “Metroid-vania”
Release Date: 08.20.20

Phoenotopia: Awakening is a 2D Action RPG Adventure game following in the footsteps of classic series such as Cave Story and the Legend of Zelda.

Join Gail, a simple villager, who must heed the call for adventure when a great starship appears in the night sky and abducts all the adults. As the new oldest member of her fragmented community, she must set out to solve this great mystery. Little does she know of the grand adventure before her, the evil lurking in the shadows, and the role she will play in the fight for Earth’s very existence!

Well, here we are, another Metroidvania in the world of indie games, which not only copies but seeks its place with new mechanics and the same as always using them differently. Currently, it is very difficult to go out and find a seat at the table of indie games, and even more so at the table of indie games of the Metroidvania genre. Phoenotopia Awakening not only gets a seat at the table, but it also gets the whole cake for itself.

A few years ago, the developer launched a Flash game called Phoenotopia, an action-adventure in a pixel art style side view and open-world format, with great freedom of actions and subquests to perform. After a while, this company has decided to release the remake of the original game under the tag Awakening, while also preparing a second part. The story follows the adventures of a young woman named Gail, who sets out on an adventure to find out what happened to her village after a mysterious object descended from the sky and kidnapped nearly all of the villagers. Gail embarks on an epic quest that takes her to many different locations, solving puzzles, rescuing all of her friends, and battling fierce enemies to find answers to the mysterious enigma.

Story

The story takes place in a world where humanity plunged into war after war, and each time worse than the previous one. Reaching the point of creating new races and new weapons, all to win and destroy their opponents. They did it, they destroyed the world and only a few survived, living in bunkers for many years, for generations. They have to go out into the world again, this time in the hope of never destroying each other again.

So we take on the role of Gail (I love that she looks kinda like Lightning from FFXIII), she lives in a small village taking care of what seems to be a special orphanage. Everything was going well in the lives of these villagers and Gail, until one day a Star falls from the sky (Spoiler alert, wasn’t a star), Gail went to look up to the fallen star, and when she came back, all Village adults have been abducted. Gail, being the oldest of all the children, does what any of us would have done, gathers her weapons, and goes to the rescue of the adults.

During the trip, you will find ancient technology, such as blacksmiths, current technology such as subways, and futuristic technology such as teleporters. All of this has a great reason for being during the story and the way to justify it is revealed near the end of the game.

The story will take you to a very cute moment of Gail’s journey leaving you with a stupid smile on your face believing there is no evil in the world and wanting to live alongside her. But, it has a very dark and twisted moment that will leave a hole in your soul and you will never be the same.

Gameplay

Without a doubt the best thing about the game is the exploration, the world is represented by a map in which Gail is small, as are the monsters and places of interest (Villages, caves, lakes, mines, etc.). It’s until you enter any of these scenarios that it switches to a Zelda 2-style 2D sidescroller perspective.

We have to make use of different items, some of which can be bought and others earned throughout history and talking and developing some side missions to obtain them. As with any game of the genre, there will be places that cannot be accessed until you obtain the skill or item necessary to proceed in that area. It has a lot of backtracking.

It has an HP recovery system, where you can cook ingredients in a hilarious cooking minigame, to later be able to consume them and recover HP, each recovery item has a consumption time, so you must choose the right place and the right time to consume it since you will be completely vulnerable when eating it.

The dungeons are all well designed and challenging, which any Zelda fans will appreciate, the lack of dungeon maps makes the game a little harder, the design and challenge of the puzzles, and the bosses of each dungeon are all difficult and fun, and if you are one of those who missed thes kind of challenges Breath of the Wild provided, you will feel well rewarded here.

Graphics and Sound

Undoubtedly the best in the game is the handling and colors of pixel art and the music that accompanies it.

The graphics are some of the best that can be found in the pixel art genre, with a great quality of animation and movement, from the animations of Gail herself, the movement of her hair, the expression of her face, and her eyes denoting each of the emotions, to the very landscapes, temples, and monsters that it offers us, it is certainly an impressive work and our friends at Cape Cosmic have outdone themselves.

The accompanying music is not far behind in quality, providing us with some relaxing melodies from the sound of a clear and calm piano to great tension filled melodies that surround us when in combat.

Verdict

After almost 40 hours of playing, I can say that being a fan of the “Metroid-Vania” genre is no longer enough to enjoy these types of games, Phoenotopia Awakening did their homework to stand out from the sea of indies of the same genre, with the incredibly beautiful and colorful visuals, and the passionate and soulful music that fills every corner of the game.

But not everything is perfect in Phoenotopia Awakening, the difficulty curve is nonexistent, not to mention the hit box’s of the enemies, which must be very, very close to them to hit them, in contrast, Gail’s hitbox is much bigger allowing enemies to hit you more times than you can hit them. Besides, the lack of a map in general, in the dungeons and the overworld, makes backtracking difficult, so bring a pen and a paper, and take many screenshots because you will need them.

Fans of the genre will love Phoenotopia Awakening its near flawless and worth every penny.

4.5/5

Review code provided by publisher for review

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