I am only publishing it because I want some of the members in our community to provide feedbacks. This is by all means NOT the finalised version of the guide.
If you are just browsing through this section and stumble upon this guide by chance, I highly recommend you to NOT read on and combe back to this after about a week.
Things to do:
– Proof-read the entire 2000 words essays to re-word probably everything more clearly and concisely
– Rework the two tables at the bottom
– Wait for some feedbacks from my favourite people
– Add some in-game screenshots
– Officially publish it!
What this guide is about
The combat is, undoubtedly, the most misunderstood aspect of Phoenotopia. If you would scroll to look at the negative reviews, this is probably the only thing people don’t like about this game. Being perhaps the biggest challenges, I am here to explain how you can overcome them much more easily.
A quick disclaimer – Just because people are vocal about it, doesn’t necessarily mean the combat in Phoenotopia poorly designed. Rather, not everybody enjoys it equally, which is perfectly understandable. I do love the combat, obviously, but the main reason that this guide exists is because I want to introduce to more people the way I enjoy combat, and to hopefully turn their experience more enjoyable with or without the challenges from combat!
(read also: My Thoughts and Review)
The Basics and General Ideas
Let’s go over the basics real quick before beginning the actual guide.
The control scheme I am using
(It is the same as the default scheme on Nintendo Switch, but with the LT/LB swapped)
|D-Pad & Left Stick||LEFT, RIGHT, UP, DOWN|
|Right Face Button (Nintendo-A)||CONFIRM/TALK and ATTACK|
|Down Face Button (Nintendo-B)||CANCEL/BACK and JUMP|
|Left Face Button (Nintendo-Y)||TOOL|
|Up Face Button (Nintendo-X)||TOOL ALT|
|Left Trigger (LT)||CAMERA|
|Left Shoulder Button (LB)||SPRINT|
|Right Trigger (RT)||CROUCH|
|Right Shoulder Button (RB)||GRAB|
I will still referring to the controls by the actions to minimise confusion, don’t worry.
Your first combat options
The first weapon you obtain is a basic Wooden Bat, with 3 attacks available:
1) Normal Swing
2) Aerial Swing (ATK +2)
3) Charged Swing (ATK *2 +2)
After reaching the second region (Atai), you are highly recommended to purchase a Civilian Crossbow, with 2 attacks available:
1) Grounded Shot
2) Mid-air Shot
(PNG – Comparison Attacks)
Melee Combat is generally more effective, while Ranged Combat is generally safer. More will be explained in details in their own sections.
Categorising the enemies
All the enemies in Phoenotopia never deal contact damage unless they have no other attacks. My preferred way of categorising enemies is based on the effects of your attacks on them:
1) Stunned whenever hit
2) Stunned whenever hit with powerful attacks
3) Cannot be stunned
(PNG – Comparison Enemies)
Most enemies in this game belong to Type-1, from the delicate slime to the jumping toads. It’s apparent that the most effective way of handling them is often stun-locking them until they’re dead, but what if you are facing tougher enemies that do not flinch from your Normal/Aerial Swings?
While it is still possible to stun-lock Type-2 enemies with Charged Swings given enough practice, there also exist Type-3 enemies that cannot be stunned at all. Each encounter with the toughest foes is a mini-puzzle on its own, and the next best option is to whittle down their health with Melee and/or Ranged Combat. Learn your foes, and stay patient!
Lesson 1 – Basic Stun-locking
The first lesson is simple – The concept of stun-locking is to keep hitting them before they get a chance to attack. For the Type-1 weaklings, you can basically just:
– Walk up
– Attack with your bat
– Repeat until they’re dead
In addition, you can stay in the corner and keep firing your Crossbow, but Melee attacks are generally faster and more energy-efficient to execute.
( It is worth mentioning that there is an Accessibility Option that allows you swing your bat without expending energy at all. While the option is here shall you need it, it’s also important to not form a bad habit of button-mashing when facing against tougher foes. )
But what if you are facing against the tougher Type-2/-3 enemies? You will probably need to learn both your foes and the Combat mechanics better.
Lesson 2 – Melee Combat
The second lesson is the hardest of the four to master. To do that, you need to face the danger head-on, and strike within the tight windows of opening. Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee!
The spirit of Melee Combat lies in timing, not range
What sets the enemy designs in Phoenotopia apart is that all enemies with attacks cannot deal contact damage to you. You can get as close to them as you want, and you only need to move away when they are about to attack.
One of Gail’s greatest strength is her mobility, and the ability to jump very high. Besides the obvious of being able to jump out of harm’s way, you also maintain horizontal movement when performing Aerial Swings. While Normal Swing is good for dashing out damage rapidly, Aerial Swing deals a bit more damage and keeps you mobile without locking you in the attack animation.
(GIF – Axe Bandit)
I would also like to address that the short range of the bat that people are having trouble with. However, as mentioned, the lack of contact damage from enemies allows you to step right on the toad’s toes unscathed, so "having extended range" will not help as much as "knowing when to dodge" especially against tougher foes.
(GIF – Spear Knight)
(unless your goal is to intercept an angry Knight charging at you, which is highly not recommended)
In summary, Melee Combat shines when you can predict how your foe moves so to sneak in your attacks between theirs.
Lesson 3 – Ranged Combat
The third lesson, while more elaborated, the execution is very straight forward. The general idea is mostly similar – Move your feet, not your gun!
The spirit of Ranged Combat lies in positioning, not aiming
One thing to keep in mind for the Ranged Combat in Phoenotopia is that you do not have a machine gun. In games like Terraria and The Binding of Isaac, streams of bullets go towards wherever your mouse is point at. Here, however, each shot requires "commitment", so the key idea is to shoot quickly and hit the mark.
First and foremost, the timing still needs to be kept in mind, since you don’t want to fire a bolt when the enemies are about to attack and move out of the way (though their AI never intentionally dodges incoming attacks). Especially when you are attacking from a distance, you want to act fast against fast-moving enemies.
Second, avoid doing "precise-aiming" in the middle of combat. While the game support 360˚ aiming, you likely only ever need to aim forward, 45˚ upward, and straight up most of the time. In other words, I find aiming with D-Pad/Keyboard often more preferable – The less time you spend on fine-tuning the aiming angle with your Analog-Stick/Mouse, the more shots you can get into your foes.
And lastly, position yourself appropriately, which is how you can hit your foes consistently even without "precise-aiming". Fighting big boars near small hills? Stand at the same level to shoot straight forth. Fighting Turrets hanging from the ceiling? Stand right under them to shoot directly up. Instead of keep aiming at odd angles, stand where you can aim with ease.
(GIF – Smart Turret)
A quick follow-up to the last point – If you cannot find quick footing at the same level as your enemies, it’s often a good idea to do Mid-air Shot instead of aiming with Grounded Shot, like in cla*sic Mega Man style. Again, less time aiming means more time attacking.
(GIF – Boar)
Before I move on, I also want to share a strategy in dealing with fast-moving targets. Intuitively, people may try to aim towards moving targets like in other shooting games, but this is often not ideal in Phoenotopia as mentioned. Here, enemies usually cycle between "attacking" and "idling", which means you want to position yourself when they’re attacking, and time your shots to hit them when they’re standing still instead.
(GIF – Dartiad)
In summary, Ranged Combat shines when you’re staying on your toes, and keep moving to the vantage point where you can hit your foe quickly and reliably.
Lesson 4 – Advanced Techniques
As you journey further into the game, you will come across tougher foes for sure, but more combat options will also be opened up, including mostly bat/armor upgrades, entirely new tools, and the 6 learnt Techniques.
This section mostly focuses on introducing the two game-changing (and overpowered, dare I say) Techniques that can potentially trivialise the combat in Phoenotopia entirely.
( Though, for the sake of spoilers, you may want to skip this section to experience them yourself )
The 2nd Tech Concentrate
Available after reaching the Daea region, this Technique allows you to charge up your attacks twice as quickly. Because of this, stun-locking Type-2 enemies with Charged Swings becomes easier with the additional leniency. Now even these tough foes can be dealt with ease!
The 3rd Tech Spear Bomb
Available half-way into the Daea region, this Technique allows you to perform one of the only two "strong" Ranged attacks in this game. Besides being a powerful attack on its own, you can also stun-lock foes even from a safe distance. No more walking up into the face of danger!
Other Note-worthy Upgrades
- Double Crossbow – Shoots two higher-damage bolts at once more quickly
- The 5th Tech Temperance – Stores a charge, useful for initiating a stun-lock
- Kobold Blaster – The second "powerful" Ranged attack, but I personally prefer Spear Bomb
- The 6th Tech Whirlwind – Basically an aerial version of Charged Swing, more powerful of course
- Berserker Band – Charge your attacks instantly, at the cost of HP
Some Common Misconceptions
This section is aiming to address the few common issues people have (mostly with combat) in this game which haven’t been mentioned above. Of course, fans like me wouldn’t find them problematic at all since we are already familiar with what we’re doing, so my goal is to instead convince even non-fans about the good behind certain decisions, hopefully!
"Is it just me, or does this game feels unfair?"
I know I shouldn’t start with such a controversial topic, but I believe it is important to state this first and foremost. My answer to this is "yes and no".
Many things I mentioned above are never explicitly mentioned in the game, so you have to learn on your own about the effective approaches to enemy encounters. While they are not meant to be trivialised by any one single tactic, their behaviours are often very consistent, so the satisfaction from understanding them is part of the biggest boon for me.
One thing that Phoenotopia does very differently compared to other games is that many enemies are designed to be mini-puzzles on their own, on top of the enemy placement that warrants new strategies fairly often. No two fights are expected to be identical (exaggeration, I know), and I enjoy how the game keeps throwing different scenarios at me from time to time.
"The accessibility options are not helping"
This game was first built around without these options. They are only in the game because Quells listened to feedbacks about people having trouble with the combat in this game. I too don’t think these options can change everything people don’t enjoy in the game, but it’s probably the best Quells can do to help casual gamers without compromising the game balance as a whole.
Thankfully, combat makes up only 30% of the game IMO, so even if you don’t enjoy it, running past enemies is usually an option (no contact damage). The goal of the accessibility options is not to change the fundamental mechanics, but to allow casual gamers an easier time to better enjoy all the other aspects this game has to offer.
"The movement feels sluggish"
The controls in this game is tight and precise, but I rarely find it unresponsive. I am guessing people use the word "sluggish" due to the lack of aerial control, like how you cannot do fine adjustment during a sprint-jump.
I can explain with how "sprint-jump is supposed to be a trade-off for extra height/distance with manoeuvrability", but in the end, if the controls don’t work for you, they don’t work for you. The best I can do is urge you to give the demo/game another try, and hope that you can see things from a different angle of mine.
"Why is the enemy so tanky?"
I believe this impression comes from how long players are spending on a fight, rather than the actual health value of the enemies themselves. Take the basic Wooden Bat for example, Normal Swing deals 7 damage, Aerial Swing deals 9 (+29%), and Charged Swing deals 16 (+129%), and the difference grows bigger for foes with higher defense, so even swinging a baseball bat requires skills.
Below is a list of the toughest regular enemy/boss for the first and second region respectively, and the number of hits required to defeat them (using the weakest/strongest melee/ranged weapons):
|Enemy||Health, Defence||No. of Hits |
(Wooden Bat aerial,
|No. of Hits |
|No. of Hits |
(Night Star charged,
|No. of Hits |
|Rock Toad||20, 4||4||5||1||1|
|Axe Bandit||55, 1||7||8||2||2|
|Great Drake |
If you ask me, an enemy that I can defeat within 15 seconds or a boss beatable within 2 minutes shouldn’t be considered "tanky". I mean, I am quick at this because I am seasoned, but the point is that "tricky to beat fast" might be a more appropriate description. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
"This game is so grindy!"
Actually, most of the things you can spend money on are completely optional (the things mandatory for progression only cost 40 R, in the entire game), so you don’t really need to grind or anything.
Below is the list of optional items that I recommend buying for each region, how much they cost, and the amount of money you have just from finding treasure chests and doing side quests in the region just before:
|Recommended Items||Sum of Costs||Available Funds (only Exploration)|
|(Atai Region) |
Refurbished Crank Lamp,
Civilian Crossbow, Composite Bat
|(Daea Region) |
GEO Club Membership, Concentrate,
Steel Bat, Jade Hauberk, Fishing Rod
|(Final Region) |
Life Ring, Mysterious Bracelet
As you can see, you should have enough funds even without doing any back-tracking. Even if you haven’t found all these one-time rewards, money does drop regularly from fallen foes and broken pots (like in Zelda games).
For the record (I am the compendium-maker, btw), the amount of treasure chests and NPC rewards in the entire game sums up to near 5000 R, whereas only about 3200 R is needed even if you are going after every single piece of optional equipment. Like I said, you also have more ways to make money, so I personally don’t find the need for grinding, being an avid explorer and a master box-breaker myself.
"Fighting enemies in the overworld feels pointless"
This is another example of why you are not advised to grind in the first place. Like in Zelda II, the overworld encounters in Phoenotopia are similar to "obstacles between towns", and are meant to be avoided. Most of the rewards in this game come from exploring new locations instead, either from finding hidden treasure chests or from NPC side quests. So um… you can grind by keep beating up toads, but there are definitely better ways to make money.
My Final Thoughts
In summary, the controls in this game often require "commitment", and the combat is like mini-puzzles that have you think ahead instead of rushing in relying only on reflex.
For me, things come naturally after understanding and getting used to it (unsurprisingly). Even if you "don’t get it", it’s still not the end of the world as combat is not too big of a part compared so all other aspects. Plus, you still have Accessibility Options to help you "tank through everything" if needed.
I really like this game, and it pains me to see how people call the combat and controls "poorly designed", which is definitely not true in my opinion. Sure, no game is made for everyone, but I hope that after reading through this, more people can understand Phoenotopia better and continue to enjoy what this game has to offer, combat or not.
Thank you for reading!
This is all about Phoenotopia Awakening – Comprehensive Combat Guide; I hope you enjoy reading the Guide! If you feel like we should add more information or we forget/mistake, please let us know via commenting below, and thanks! See you soon!
- All Phoenotopia Awakening Posts List