Phoenix Springs Demo Rises To The Point

One of the most promising and innovative point and clicks I've played, Phoenix Springs is an upcoming indie tale currently available as a demo via Steam.

Who the hell is Leo Dormer? Why he’s Iris’ brother, don’t you know. That’s one of many questions you might ask when you play the Phoenix Springs demo. A potluck download from the Steam Next Fest pool, all I did was look at the screenshots, and that guaranteed a try. Was it worth it?

Well, it’s a demo, it’s free, and yes: it was worth it. Phoenix Springs is one of the most stylish, concise point and click adventures I’ve seen of late. There’s no grog in-jokes, pixel art visuals, or over-inflated inventory to manage; it’s a sequence of intuition that flows with finesse.

Produced by Calligram Studio, a three-piece team from the UK and France. Just a quick peek at their website and they say that their goal is ‘to design, write and release what we call game-shaped stories, where mechanics are intrinsically linked to storytelling’. Maybe this is why I instantly fell in love with it?

Phoenix Springs Demo - Leo
Leo? Source: Steam

The pacing is superb, and while the protagonist comes across as cold, it’s fitting for the story (so far). The presentation was the initial lure, as the game uses some fantastic illustrations and colour palettes… Christ, it’s so good. It’s almost like an arthouse Heavy Metal experience, minus the fantasy element and shoddy leather. Without hiring a private detective, the team must have an illustrious portfolio of previous artistic projects.

Anyway, bigging this up quite a bit, eh?

Phoenix Springs is refreshing. Like any other point and click, you move the cursor around to interact with the world, and in doing so, new ‘clues’ may appear. Pressing the right mouse button lists these keywords to use as an item from your inventory or a prompt in conversation. Unlike typical dialogue trees, it’s a mixture of past and present tense, with Iris narrating the whole thing in her to-the-point manner.

Returning to the flow, I don’t recall playing anything like Phoenix Springs. When you unlock a significant clue, the location shifts seamlessly. It’s as if Edgar Wright has taken the helm, only with less in-your-face editing. The more I write, the more I will end up under-selling it. 

Do yourself a favour and give the demo a try. This might be one of my most anticipated games – it’s superb. Link below.