Are you brave enough to fly these ships? Phoenix II doesn’t go easy on you. A pure bullet-hell shooter, its bad guys fling hundreds of projectiles at you right from the start. Dodge them or die.
It’s a little nerve-racking but a lot of fun, mainly because of how polished the game is. Elegant controls let you weave through enemy fire with serious precision, and guiding your craft with your finger feels terrific. If you can turn off your brain and play on pure instinct—forgetting how much danger you’re in at any moment—it’s a surprisingly zen-like experience.
To keep the action fresh, Phoenix II offers a new multi-wave mission each day, revolving community missions, and dozens of slick fighters to choose from. Each ship packs three upgradable weapons, and with options like a hyper blaster or a mega bomb, you can cripple foes or obliterate incoming missiles.
Of course, you’ll still be shot down. Often. So being able to revive mid-mission is a huge bonus. That’s one of many awesome updates since the game launched in July 2016. Developer Firi Games has also added a bunch of new ships, new abilities, and even support for 120fps if you’re on a second-generation iPad Pro.
On any device, though, it’s a beautiful game. From its lighting to its ship designs, Phoenix II looks as stunning as it plays.