What is Phoning Home?
Phoning Home is an open-world game full of exploration and survival, set on an unknown planet. The story starts when you – a Wall-E resembling robot – crash on the destination planet due to its very strong gravitation. TR2 (operating system of your space ship) and you decide to explore the strange planet and try to send out a signal to your mother planet P1. It’s a combination of Wall-E cuteness and E.T.‘s dangerous adventure. The exciting story is full of obstacles and you will sweat blood while completing quests that have to be done. Otherwise you’ll die.
You crushed on a beautiful place, full of grass, flowers and trees… Did the beauty around you fooled you? Yeah, it fooled me. It seemed harmless and peaceful. But the longer I played the sooner I realised, that I am nothing, but parasite, to the planet. And guess what? Even rocks want to kill you. Enemies are hidden or invisible and the moment you see them it’s already too late. Do you think, that a hostile place like this will let you live easily? No, no, no! This is real survival. No resource respawn – flowers do not grow overnight, right? If you harvest it, use it wisely. The real hell is waiting for you.
Forget about quest logs with lots of hints. Quest log here isn’t much of help – if you’re lost, it won’t help you. I personally didn’t mind. But there’s the thing – if you are not a patient, stubborn and competitive person. Go and look for other games. Phoning Home is a huge rollercoaster of hope. Do you know that feeling when you’re desperately running low on resources and then you make it to the world portal? How do you feel? I felt hope, that it will be better behind that portal. I was so wrong. Hope was given to me and then taken away immediately. But something about this game makes you want to go on. You won’t be bored here, I swear.
Once isn’t enough
Developers have put a lot of effort in this game and thus it’s understandable that they want you to play it multiple times. I’m even sure, that you’ll have to play it twice at least. As if the difficulty is saying: “Don’t you dare play Phoning Home only ONCE!” There are many achievements to collect and a lot to discover. I think it’s too big for just one bite.
Is it perfect then?
Phoning Home is a well optimized 3D open-world game with a realistic appearance. Crafting elements are just fine and puzzles are not always obvious, which is great. Sounds and voice overs are perfect. This indie game could easily compete some AAA games from greater gaming studios. Is it perfect then? Almost. There are few flaws. ANI is a burden herself, but she also has suicidal behaviour (she jumped from great heights for no reason multiple times) and zero survival instinct (constantly wasting anti-corrosion coating). She also isn’t able to recognize obstacles (e.g. walls) and get stuck sometimes. But that’s nothing that couldn’t be fixed.
Overall Phoning Home is a great indie game. It is a real survival experience. I expected a cute, relaxing exploration game, but Phoning Home turned out to be pretty tough to play. Definitely one of the best indie games I ever played.
- the combination of Wall-E appearance and E.T. mission
- well optimized 3D realistic graphic
- story gradation (the storyline isn’t that predictable)
- realistic survival experience
- great voice overs and sounds
- entertaining puzzles
- ANI is a bigger burden than she should be sometimes (suicides, gets stuck etc.)
- controller isn’t optimized (right joystick turns camera too slowly, increasing sensitivity didn’t work)
- some graphical glitches (I fell down from the end of the map, seethrough walls…)