Phoning Home is an open world adventure, which has several hours of gameplay to keep players happy. This also includes several memorable characters as well. Crashlanded on an alien planet, ION, must signal his home base to save him and his ship. The game is single-player and has an average run time of anywhere from six to ten hours. Think Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but with less story and action.
Phoning Home Review
Title: Phoning Home
Genre: Action, Adventure
Developer: Ion Lands
Publisher: Ion Lands, Stride PR
Release date: February 7, 2017
The story begins on a strange planet that’s home to a destroyed alien culture. The player controls an exploration unit who’s goal is to escape the planet. You collect resources to quite literally “phone home.” While doing this, ION encounters another exploration unit named ANI. Together, the two units run across the planet collecting more resources. While also fending off baddies. Quite frankly, there’s a lot more walking, and much less action in this journey. The controls are a little delayed and erratic. Taking away the fun from some of the unique puzzles the game offers.
Animation and Abilities
Animations from the characters are rather minimal. A simple shift of the arm is one of the few you’ll see. So, they are certainly reused throughout the whole game. On the plus side, you acquire many new abilities. There’s enhanced jetpacks, shields, and portals. Not to mention, gravity thrusters, levitators, and anti-gravity pulses.
These weapons and abilities also have upgrades too. For example, your companion can gain enhanced blasters or reduced damage taken during battle.
Throughout the game, Tumbler enemies pop-up near objectives to stifle your progress. These are the weakest and most recurring enemies in the game. The tumblers glow bright orange, as you gain their attention. They attack similar to a swarm of bees. Thankfully, a few blasts from your anti-matter weapons can destroy them. Being that the game encourages exploration, there’s also a class of enemies who appear a few times a level. These unbeatable monsters must be avoided and dodged at all costs. Look out for Rock Guardians, pterodactyls, trench worms, and giant spiders.
Phoning Home really has some incredible visuals. The developers obviously spent a lot of time on them too. On the highest settings, they are gorgeous. The beginning level containing a forest is one of the most visually interesting. Especially since it contains a full rain and daylight cycle.
The next few levels are also appealing, but are hidden a bit by heavier weather effects. Including sandstorms, blizzards, poisonous fog and smoke. In total, there are five areas in Phoning Home. A forest, desert, snowy mountains, arctic islands, and a large crater. All of the variety in the stunning atmospheric design, covers up for the lack of gameplay. It’s almost like the developers knew the players would be walking a lot. So, they made the scenery beautiful to look at.
The game is open world. Unless you missed something in one of the areas, you probably won’t go back for it. The main story is interesting enough, but very few decisions result in different dialog. However, There are rewards for going through the game and mastering it. For example, there are no damage taken challenges and ANI achievements. For those that really want them, there’s some Small secrets as well. Although, these decrypted messages aren’t worth all the backtracking. Since they contain pretty useless messages. I believe the developers missed the boat in capitalizing on this particular area.
Interesting developed characters
Long walk sequences
Overall Thoughts: 8 Out of 10 I don’t think it would be unfair to call Phoning Home a walking simulator. The game features little action in its vast open world. In an attempt to correct this, the developers made your companion an endless chatterbot. While going through each level, ANI spouts random messages constantly. Playing Phoning home was like watching an underrated movie. Some people may like it, but others who don’t like this kind of game probably won’t. I’ll certainly remember those stunning visuals though.