Phantom Trigger Review

We get games from indie games publishing company tinyBuild quite often and they always tend to be something unique and awesome every time. Phantom Trigger however goes more along the lines of tribute to another game, rather than being its own little thing. Is it good, is it bad, is it fun? Well, let’s explore the depths of the neon slasher game Phantom Trigger, developed by Bread Team, together.

(You can watch our full hard-mode playthrough video series of the game on our YouTube channel.)

I will say it now, since it is somewhat unavoidable, but we will making a lot of comparisons to a very similar game to Phantom Trigger. I am talking about none other than the famous and highly acclaimed Hyper Light Drifter (which we are also huge fans of, in case our outlet’s name did not give that away already).

Phantom Trigger at first look not only looks but also plays very much like Hyper Light Drifter. Getting into the game, we get to see a couple normal humans talk to each other with some lines of dialogue between them before we immediately jump into the hack and slashing part of the title. As soon as we are transferred to the “Outsider”, who is basically our main action character, we get introduced to the few abilities that he has, such as dashing in various directions or attacking enemies with one of the three differently-colored abilities that we possess. The colors of our abilities play a role themselves in our playthrough since they are part of various little puzzles that we have to go through. Other than that though, the color theme is the only one being explored when it comes to how interesting our abilities can get.

We can level up our abilities by killing enemies with them and that allows us to unlock various combos. The combos are very interesting and do all sorts of little tricks, such as leaving a little bomb behind our character or even freezing enemies in place. Honestly though, they are useless. I personally played the game on hard mode and I never really had to do anything more than just press “B” on my controller for a heavy attack and then “A” to dash away from them before I go in to repeat the exact same process. Again and again the same thing until the enemies die without ever being able to touch me. The fact that there is no stamina for our dashing ability makes this a very overpowered and easy to abuse trick that will carry you through the entire game. So gameplay wise, although the control of our character is interesting and there is a bit of a build-up as we unlock more and more abilities, the gameplay feels pretty much the same from start till end due to this little exploit that feels somewhat necessary to survive hard situations.

Despite all my complaints though about how it gets kind of boring to be doing the same thing again and again, the game does have a quite interesting story. What Hyper Light Drifter conveyed through a story without words, Phantom Trigger does by showing us scenes here and there of two worlds that we slowly realize why and how they are connected. not something extremely extraordinary but still quite well done all things considered. My complaint story-wise is that most of the things I did in the gameplay, except for some things in the end of the game, did not feel very connected to the theme and the general story of it. The bosses more specifically all have a meaning behind their true identity and yet it is not that easy to understand or even feels too abstract I would say. We get to explore the character of a couple characters but even that is done just on the surface and never goes deep enough for us to feel connected to them. Even the “Outsider” never had any real character up until the times that we have to make a decision ourselves. Decisions that do not impact the game in that big of a way or feel utterly black or white at a point where we know the game is ending anyway. I never felt empathy for my character or put myself in his position in any way, something that I honestly think a title like this could have been doing better, since it seems to be one of its main focus points.

We can level up our abilities by killing enemies with them and that allows us to unlock various combos. The combos are very interesting and do all sorts of little tricks, such as leaving a little bomb behind our character or even freezing enemies in place. Honestly though, they are useless. I personally played the game on hard mode and I never really had to do anything more than just press “B” on my controller for a heavy attack and then “A” to dash away from them before I go in to repeat the exact same process. Again and again the same thing until the enemies die without ever being able to touch me. The fact that there is no stamina for our dashing ability makes this a very overpowered and easy to abuse trick that will carry you through the entire game. So gameplay wise, although the control of our character is interesting and there is a bit of a build-up as we unlock more and more abilities, the gameplay feels pretty much the same from start till end due to this little exploit that feels somewhat necessary to survive hard situations.

The music of the game was not something too extraordinary but I would not complain for it either since it carried me through the game without making me pay too close attention to it. It may not be at the level of Transistor where the music carries the game in some of its tiring points, but it was not anything tiring or annoying at any point either, so Phantom Trigger gets a big plus on this part.

What I liked the most was most definitely the story together with the way the game looked. Those were the two basic things that kept me going and made me have the courage to go through all the somewhat repetitive gameplay. The boss fights were something I was looking forward since the enemies tend to be pretty much the same until the very end of it, but even those left me disappointed after realizing that after the first boss, I only got to face faceless things that just had a trick to them. They were neither challenging nor interesting for that matter unfortunately.

Another huge plus is of course its already-integrated co-op mode, which although is only local mode, is actually quite fun. You can actually go through the entire game that way and I would suggest doing so since it makes it a little bit more interesting and will drag you through the boring parts of it way easier.

Small note here by the way. Although I do understand the need for developers to have their game on as many categories as possible on Steam (so that people can find the game easier), I still do not understand why they add their local-only co-op game to the “co-op” category which is clearly only for games that play co-op online. We obviously fell for that trap for the millionth time (since many other developers have done this before) and thought the game plays co-op, but it apparently doesn’t.

You can find the game on Steam and will be available on the 10th of August.


Verdict

Phantom Trigger overall, is a game that will keep you good company if you are a fan of hack and slash games since it plays nice and it looks even nicer. If you are in it for the challenge or for the super interesting things you can do against all sorts of unique enemies and boss fights you might face, then you might be looking at the wrong place. If you have a friend that even remotely likes these kind of games then you should most definitely convince him/her to play it on co-op so that you enjoy it a whole lot more.


Smooth controls and easy to learn mechanics

Looks as good as it plays

Interesting story

– Gets quite repetitive fast with little to no challenge even on hard mode

– Easy to exploit game mechanics make it even more repetitive

Score : 7.1/10

~Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis

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