Phoning Home (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 23.02.2017

Review for Phoning Home on PC

Survival games are becoming increasingly more popular. While Minecraft may have been the catalyst to the modern survival boom, there have been many others to come along, each with its own twist on the formula. The Forest pits plane crash survivors up against crazy cannibals, while ARK drops survivors among the dinosaurs. Phoning Home manages to do some distinctly different things with its survival theme, but does it manage to be as enjoyable?

From the beginning, Phoning Home aims to distinguish itself in a number of ways. Play as the robot ION, who crash lands on a large alien world. With the long-term goal of escaping the planet, ION must create and craft tools from the resources found on the planet, and there's plenty of planet to explore. While other survival games drops characters out into the open with the hostility turned up to 10, Phoning Home is a bit politer.

While ION can die from fire or by falling, ION is largely left alone at first to explore and gather supplies. There are hostiles waiting to snuff him out at the earliest chance. Early on, it's all about easing into the crafting system. This might be superfluous, because the crafting system is incredibly simple. It's as basic as getting the components needed, throughout the environment, and crafting them quickly in the menu, irrespective of where ION is situated on the planet. While it's not always obvious how to use items, once learnt, it is a great system.

After a bit, ION will stumble across ANI, who can be a bit cumbersome to escort around. Escort is the operative word, as ANI depends on ION, though not so much in combat. This is because she can't really go anywhere on her own. She manages to be frustrating in a way that most escort missions aren't, by being more annoying because she can't do things ION is used to. It's not enough to ruin the whole experience, but it's a bit frustrating.

Screenshot for Phoning Home on PC

Those things ION has gotten used to aren't particularly simple either. While collecting resources is really easy, moving around is not. While actually moving is fairly simple and ION moves at a reasonable speed, he can't jump. Instead, he uses a thruster, which makes him feel incredibly heavy, at least at first. Eventually he feels too light and skyrockets too quickly. Because of this, there is some trouble figuring out how long to hold the SPACE bar, so that he doesn't end up falling and taking damage.

Phoning Home is fun because, unlike a lot of other survival games, there always seems to be an objective, however the world doesn't seem to justify these goals. It's just too big, and a lot of the journey is spent just hovering through empty environments. The environments are pretty, but that's hardly enough reason to justify its size. It's even clear early on, when ION has to find ingredients for fuel. The ingredients are all in a close proximity, but a lot of the space just seems wasted.

Still, for those who don't mind the single player-only experience will be able to enjoy Phoning Home. Having a few different ION's rolling around has a lot of potential, but even the single player experience is fun enough to justify diving in, though it probably wouldn't work in the main story. Phoning Home is a great experience buried behind some glaring weaknesses. Still it's a treat to play, as it's an incredibly enjoyable experience, even if the edges are frayed.

Screenshot for Phoning Home on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Phoning Home doesn't seem to want to be the flashiest of the survival genre. Instead, it seems to want to be the most accessible and the strongest. While it doesn't always succeed, it hits enough of the right notes to be both a recommendation and a surprisingly unique member of the survival genre. With a bit of polish, it could easily be one of the best.


Ion Lands


Ion Lands





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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