Phantom Trigger Review
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
Being a huge fan of the Hack and Slash genre, I was happy to see that another indie Hack and Slash title coming to the Switch. Meaning I couldn’t wait to try out Phantom Trigger – But, did this game win a place in my heart?
One thing Phantom Trigger does really well is keeps the story details very limited from the start. Meaning you will intrigued throughout your full play-through of the game. The story starts with you having a brief chat with your wife about breakfast, and suddenly you collapse on the floor and taken into hospital. At this point you will be in control of a character known as the Outsider.
Now, what has caused you to become the Outsider is never really clear, which for me is what makes the story such a strong part of game – and keeps you interested. Are you in limbo heading towards death or just suffering a breakdown due to your illness?. The game does try to fill in the gaps of what is going on with little breaks in the gameplay – which normally start with the screen image breaking up, really adding to the shifting between the two characters. However, these breaks seem very well implemented and placed throughout the game, meaning they never really ruin the gameplay experience.
When it comes to gameplay the game is what you would really expect from the Hank and Slash genre. Meaning as with other games in this genre, depending on how much to like the genre, it could soon start to feel very repetitive. For the gameplay you will have three different weapons and the option to blink/teleport short distances. Your three weapons have a colour matched to them, Green is whip, blue is a sword and red is a fist – these colours become important for some puzzles and fights in the game.
The game is set up in a rinse and repeat sort of manner, which will basically have you defeating a large number of enemies hordes as you explore dungeons. You are placed in this dungeons as the Outsider with the same goal in mind – defeat the boss. As you will find in many dungeon crawler type games, were the main aim is kill the boss, you will be given set objectives to complete in the dungeon in order to progress to the boss fight. This opens the game up for some exploration around the dungeons, where you will encounter fights, find XP boosts, and other items for the characters when you leave the dungeon.
As previously mentioned the only downfall the game suffers in gameplay is, if you’re not a huge fan of the genre the game will become very repetitive. One other thing that the games throws up is a few puzzle sequences, unfortunately, all of these are the same. You will get some poles appear out of the ground and they will light up in a set sequence, and you have to hit the poles in order with the corresponding weapon – so basically Hack and Slash Bop It. However, this genre is all about all about the combat, and for me as a huge Hack and Slash fan, the combat works well.
One last thing I would like to mention around playing the game, is that is does come with a checkpoint system. These check points placed around the dungeons, and will refill you health on activating them. But, you will have to be careful you don’t miss them – where for me its easy to spot them, if you don’t walk directly on them, they will not activate. I blinked passed one and then died, and went all the way back to another checkpoint, where I had navigated through some very difficult parts of that dungeon. Meaning I had to replay that whole part again – believe me once you’ve done that mistake, you will never make it again.
Another aspect of the game that is done well is the art-style the team has used. They have gone with a pixellated looked, but the mix or the darker environments and the bright neon colours for things like the particle effects on the dungeons really helps the game look great. To be honest I can be quite picky when it comes to pixellated graphics for a game, but, Phantom Trigger is one that has used this style to great effect – making the game that much more playable.
The controls are pretty much straight forward, but this is something you find with the Hack and Slash genre. You will move around with the left analogue stick, X will use your whip, A will use the fist, Y will use the sword and B is for your blink. At points when you find mirrors (extra XP), need to open things or collect things this is also done with B when it prompts you on the screen. That is it, as I said straight forward.
To get through my first play-through of Phantom Trigger it took me about five hours. But, the game does offer you a number reasons to go back. Firstly the game offers multiple endings, so if you wanted to play it again you can. Once you have completed your first time through the game it unlocks Arena Mode. Arena mode is effectively an endurance/wave based version of the game, meaning you will take on enemies, have to complete a puzzle and then beat that worlds boss to move on – believe me this gets challenging. So, the team at BreadTeam have given you a lot in this package for £13.49.
Phantom Trigger also includes an added bonus of co-op mode, meaning you and friend can take a Joy-con each and play-through the game together. Really adding another reason to go back to it, if you have friends around.
Finally on a note to end it with, when I first played the game I thought it was really difficult. I then paused it and noticed it is automatically set on Hard mode – so if you find you are getting frustrated this could be the reason why. I would recommend doing your first play-through in Normal because even in that mode you will face some difficulty spikes. Then go back to it on hard, and try get a different ending.
Phantom Trigger brings another game to Switch that is certainly better and seems to be made of handheld mode. Bringing with the popular pixel art look, and a five hour hack-and-slash campaign. Offering a number of reasons due to go back, be it for the different endings or to play through it with a friend using a Joy-Con each.
Also available on PC
Developer: Tiny Build