Phantom Doctrine – Review

Phantom Doctrine is a turned based strategy set around the Cold War era. Wrapped around conspiracy and deception, it takes for those behind the scenes to uncover the truth.

Phantom Doctrine’s gameplay can be frustrating. Especially for those who are new to the game. There is a lack of useful tutorial and to top it off, there are bugs and glitches that can force anyone to restart the level.

Despite the frustration that comes with trying to learn the game’s mechanics, the payoff can be quite worth it. There’s a certain obsession to micromanaging everything and planning to the littlest detail. Those who have OCD will feel quite at home. There’s nothing quite like pulling off a successful mission with little to no trouble because of good planning and useful equipment.

If you’re having trouble, we do have a guide for newcomers available for you to check out.

Phantom Doctrine relies more on tactics and strategy with a little bit of improvisation to get through the missions. You’ll have your agents moving like pawns on a chessboard from block to block. Each agent has their own specialty and stats that can put them above the rest. If you take your time to carefully plan out each detail, you’ll mostly get through with little to no trouble.

Tackling a mission can take from as short as five minutes to as long as an hour, depending on the difficulty and the complexity of the mission. There are rescue missions for capture agents, assassination or capture missions, eliminate all hostiles, and disable all bombs. These are only side activities that occur some penalty in some way if you don’t do them.

  • Rescue Mission – gain a new useful agent. Miss it and they’re gone for good. You can also rescue your agents that have been captured by the enemy.
  • Eliminate all Hostiles – otherwise known as “Beholder Cells” which can incur penalties in gaining new resources and gaining risk to your hideout being discovered if ignored.
  • Assassination or Capture – otherwise known as “Enemy Recon” which will have you capturing an agent or killing him/her. By far the easiest side mission to tackle. Can raise the risk to detection of your base if ignored.
  • Disable all Bombs – otherwise known as “Conspiracy” missions. It’s hard to ignore this as doing so will increase the meter required by the enemy to fulfill their plans. While I never quite saw what it would do if ignored too much, I’m guessing that’s a game over. Don’t stick around to find out.

Once you’ve unlocked useful support such as Recon, they can make taking on these missions simpler. Further into the game you can wait until the enemy is finished with their mission in order to tail them to their hideout. Or you can simply sabotage enemy operations so you can skip those missions entirely. Though all these things take time and you can’t do them for every side mission you take on.

Missions need to be handled with care. One mistake can turn what is supposed to be an easy mission to a full-blown massacre. I made the mistake of rushing in during an Enemy Recon and the mission failed alongside two of my finest agents dying. For some knowing that one mistake can effectively ruin everything can be thrilling and will make them think twice before making a move. For others, it can be a source of frustration knowing that the game is just that unforgiving.

There is also a little word matching mini-game that you play where you have to connect documents with lines of yarn on a corkboard. It made the paranoid conspiracy theorist inside of me surface a little too unwelcomingly.

While there are a lot of things to love about the game, there’s also quite a lot to hate about it too.

There is a good variety of missions for you to tackle. Each of them can present their own challenge with some being easier than others. Unfortunately, missions can be repetitive and boring once play through again and again. Maps are reused regardless of where in the world the mission takes place. The only unique maps are missions that are required to further the story.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, you can’t just ignore side missions. While they’re a good way for you to gain useful equipment and level up your agents’ skills and stats, they are also a pain if all your good agents are too busy to tackle them. Especially if there are multiple activities you need to tackle around the world map.

There are also some questionable enemy advantages that can seem too unfair for many. Apparently seeing a dead body grants them omniscience and they immediately know where your agents are despite the fact that they are in disguise. This also applies to if they manage to spot one agent then they automatically know where everyone is and proceed to swarm you faster than you can blink.

You agents can also seem rather dull. While I can’t speak for everyone I felt no real emotional attachment to them as they really just felt like pawns on a chessboard with some pawns being more valuable than others. Your attachment to your agents is based on how useful they are to you than any kind of lasting interest. None of them really comes off as memorable.

While there are events that can breathe life into them, such as when you’re presented with a dilemma regarding a certain agent’s trouble and you have to choose what to do. Each choice you pick having a consequence that isn’t immediately apparent. It doesn’t really happen often enough that I feel that there’s some depth into the background.

Overall, Phantom Doctrine’s gameplay is good. Superb even. But it could use some improvements and has some questionable mechanics. It’s still a great game for those who are looking for a good tactical game.


There are real-life events that take place in the Phantom Doctrine. It’s all incredible how CreativeForge Games tried to weave all into the plot.

Unfortunately, it’s not really all that captivating.

There’s a master conspiracy happening in the background that you have to uncover. But there’s just no reason to be interested in it if your characters aren’t really all that interesting. The closest thing to being interesting about your own agents is that they might betray you if you’re not careful.

For a game about chess masters operating behind the lines, none of it ever felt gripping enough to invest me into the story. I was just playing one level to another hoping to get through the game whole time.

Despite this, Phantom Doctrine does have mature themes involving brainwashed sleeper agents, being betrayed by your own people, and innocent civilians being killed because of powerful people from behind the scenes pulling the strings. I just wished that there was more of a captivating story than what we got.

Graphics and Sound

Graphics in the game aren’t too good and can seem dated. But they work well enough to do their jobs. It did feel like I was playing an old-fashioned PlayStation 3 game.

The agents’ voices can feel repetitive when in missions. They have these customizable personalities where they can respond to how you order them on the field. But their voices can seem downright grating as they often repeat the same line over and over again.

Music, however, is a different story. If I could rate Phantom Doctrine for its music alone, I’d give it a solid 9 out of 10. It’s slow jazz music when in infiltration transitioning into this heavy intense tune when in combat really sets the atmosphere.

Final Opinion

I had fun playing the Phantom Doctrine but it’s not a perfect game by any means. While it’s true that this isn’t going to be a game for everyone to enjoy, those who are a fan of turn-based strategy games with emphasis on micromanaging your troops might find it enjoyable. It really brought out the OCD in me.

In short, if you’re like me and have an obsession with every detail about how you play a game, then Phantom Doctrine is worth a buy.

Disclosure: This review is based on a review code provided by the publisher. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.

Phantom Doctrine – Review
Score Definition
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest in if you have some spare.
Mind Challenging Gameplay
Great Music
Many Tactical Options
Glitches Can Break Missions
Frequently Used Maps
Repetitive Missions
Non-engaging Story