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Phobies review - fear-ocious fun

It’s time to face your fears and make them your own in this fun collectable card game, use your worst fears to your advantage and reign supreme in combat

a bunch of cats floating in the air

Our Verdict

This is one of the most creeptastic yet adorable games I’ve come across in a long time, and would recommend it to anyone. Even if strategy games aren’t your thing, you might like this little gem regardless

Everyone has phobias, right? Each of us has something that we can’t stand, something we fear. But, we keep these deep down, as though they’re a dark secret that someone might use against us – and, depending on what friends you keep, this is a viable worry. Still, they say you should face your fears head-on, but a delightful little game known as Phobies takes this idea one step further – what if you not only fought against your phobia, but dominated your fear and recruited it to serve you in a creeptastic army?

Well, I, for one, love this premise, and given I have two beings that I hold a deep fear and hatred of, I was all too happy to dive in, conquer my fears, and make them my bi… Friend. However, losing to them would make all my deepest fears and nightmares come true, which would make me sad. We’re on a slippery slope here, people.

Okay, so phobies are “fears made flesh,” they’ve taken on a form that allows them to haunt you in an all-new way. You think they’re in your mind, but they’re not. No, they’re right in front of you, so now you must do the logical thing, and dropkick that phobie into the middle of next week alongside your fear. Make this phobie yours. Become the phobie to that phobie.

You start off with a tutorial, this is pretty standard, right? Well, the developer evidently knew my deepest fears straight off the bat, as Lippy, a helpful NPC, asked me to attack a clown. I hate clowns, and was all too happy to give it a shock. Then, much to my delight, I’m told that each phobie has two actions per turn, meaning I could hit clowny boi again – what a treat.

A bunch of phobies on the battlefield

Of course, there are many phobies for you to collect, each one with different abilities – some strike from a distance, others like to be at mid-range, and the rest need to be up close and personal. To cover all grounds, it’s useful to have at least one of each on your team. I’m a highly aggressive player, and am all too happy to engage in fisticuffs, but when there’s a sheep that can wipe out my entire team if they’re all close by, I feel the need to adjust my strategy. Nobody should lose to a sheep farting at them, nobody.

The controls and gameplay are nice and simple. The battleground is on a grid, reminiscent of most tactical games, and you simply tap one of your phobies to select them for use. Then you can see which of your foes is within range. Remember, each phobie has two moves each turn, so think carefully about how you want to use them. For example, you can attack twice, move twice, or use a combination of the two.

To earn victory, you must eliminate all opposing phobies, and trust me when I say it’s quite therapeutic, especially if you happen to fear a particular phobie. Killing a clown with a glorified sheep fart filled me with joy, and that was just in the tutorial – what a wonderful sign of things to come.

A screen full of phobies cards and an evil snowman

Better yet, you don’t have to kill all the phobies individually. If strategy games are your jam, and you use your wits, you can, in theory, put an end to the match by going after your opponent’s heart. Should you break their heart, all their phobies die, making you the victor. So, phobies can die of a broken heart? I’m not sure how to feel about that. Each battle zone has panic points, and the more of these points you control, the more damage you inflict upon your opponent’s heart.

So you see, there are numerous ways in which you can approach a game. It certainly makes things interesting, and it’s fun to see whether or not your strategies can lead you to the win, or if the opposition has a plan of attack that counters yours. You might think success is in your grasp, only for your opponent to destroy your heart. When you finish a match, you earn various rewards in the form of in-game currency (coffee and tears) and XP, which you can use to upgrade phobies. XP also gives you jacks, which give you even more prizes.

However, I should point out that you can’t play all your phobies at once, and they certainly aren’t free. You see, the match operates with a key system, and each character costs a certain amount. Personally, I love this. As much as I want my best phobies out on the battlefield, I have to choose wisely – going for your most powerful one immediately can leave you too short on keys to provide backup, but it could still be enough to cause some damage.

a phobies stats card

You get more keys in each round, and can see how many you’re going to get, so you can save up for the best phobie on your team, go for the middle of the pack, or a couple of less than impressive phobies to save some keys. My all or nothing play style either pays off, or I get annihilated. There’s no in-between.

How could I forget to mention the graphics, the game looks fantastic, and the art style is so adorable that I almost feel sorry for the phobies I kill – a lifetime of haunting my dreams usually helps me to stay guilt-free, though. The game is so pleasing to the eye, and sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s a mobile game.

All in all, I recommend Phobies to anyone. It’s free on both iOS and Android devices, the worst thing that can happen is the game doesn’t gel with you. The best thing that can happen is you discover a lovely little gem, one that’s full of adorable little phobies. It’s a fear-ocious little strategy game, and I can see myself being addicted to it for a while.