Before I start, here's a little warning: if you're of a nervous disposition, play this game at your peril!
Anyway, Phoenix begins before your death! Sounds odd I know, but it's pretty simple really. Y'see, the storyline tells of your death, which is followed by a trip to Limbo and then your recruitment into the ranks of the immortal souls who are known as the Champions of Chronos. You are now committed to the fight against evil, whether you like it or not!
The central theme of the game is one of rebirth, hence the name of the game. For your first job as a Champion of Chronos you're dispatched to another time and place. (Gosh! It's just like Doctor Who. Ed) You are reborn between the twin villages of Finvarra and Dunatis, dressed in black and carrying a knife. Your job is to seek out, and destroy, something called The Abomination.
Your initial path towards Finvarra is clearly marked. Everything is deathly quiet, no birds sing and no furry animals cross your path. It's actually quite peaceful! But (but!) you soon come upon a vile sight. There, at the roadside, stands a hell-spawned demon (one of The Abomination's minions) happily ripping a villager to shreds. Earlier in the game you might have wondered why the villagers of Dunatis weren't very friendly, when you reach Finvarra you realise why. All the men and women have disappeared leaving only the tormented children. Those nasty demons have afflicted the children with all manner of devilish ailments from facial warts to full blown, ectoplasmic possession!
The only way you can help is by destroying The Abomination. Most of the game's problems centre around finding cures for the children which are based on old wives tales, myths and legends. But don't worry if your knowledge of such things is a little, erm, limited. All you have to do is pay a visit to Hubert the Hermit! Not only is he the sole adult to have escaped the wrath of The Abomination, he's also a wise man, psychic, mystic and fortune teller to boot!
One of the game's strong points is that the various messages you get (from examining things and speaking to the children etc) tend to hint at what you need to do next without giving too much, or too little, away. But there are times when a bit of knowledge about Norse myths and folklore would come in handy!
Each child cured leads you either to ways of discovering another cure, or to methods for dealing with The Abomination. Mr Abomination hovers around the village green, you can't miss him - he's the colour of disease and the shape of a nightmare! Oh, and he's impervious to attack.
Phoenix has got one of the best endings I've ever seen. It's also one of the most interesting and well-constructed serious adventures that I've played since Games Workshop's Tower Of Despair. (If you liked that, you'll love Phoenix!) Its strong language and gory descriptions might offend some, but it is just a game. Actually, it's more than that - it's a great game.
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