Review – Phantom Trigger
Phantom Trigger is a hardcore isometric action game developed by Bread Team and originally released on the Nintendo Switch and PC last year. Now on Xbox One, the question becomes: how does it hold up?
Phantom Trigger follows Stan, a regular man, and The Outsider, a warrior who exists in another reality. The game will jump between the 2 perspectives, with Stan suffering from a fatal illness and forced to undergo an experimental treatment and The Outsider completing his own mission.
The story, whilst initially interesting as you try to find out the connection between The Outsider and Stan, doesn’t really go anywhere and wasn’t engaging enough to be particularly commendable. If more time was spent fleshing out the relationship between the protagonists it could have been something great.
The visuals bear a striking resemblance to the excellent Hyper Light Drifter, which for the most part is a good thing. Visual effects such as fire do a good job lighting the world. There’s a few issues though, like objects in the foreground can get in the way and it makes the action difficult to see at times. Also, the enemy design isn’t that interesting to look at.
The sound design, while not entirely memorable is actually pretty good and fits the game’s style well. When the action gets more frantic the soundtrack does a good job keeping up.
In combat, The Outsider will have access to 3 different weapons each mapped to a face button. The whip, which allows you to interact with certain objects and pull enemies towards you feels the least intuitive, often times missing the target even though it looks like it should have hit. The other 2 weapons, the ice sword and fire gauntlets feel much better to use and will make for most of your attacks anyway. There’s also a dash move that allows you to dodge attacks quickly.
As you progress you’ll naturally level up each of the weapons the more you use them and unlock new combos. 2 Gauntlet strikes followed by a dash will perform a fire dash, whereas a whip attack and 2 sword strikes will freeze the enemy in place. But these are just a couple of examples. There’s some decent synergy between the attacks, I just wish there were even more combos.
Surprisingly, Phantom Trigger automatically launches the game on Hard difficulty and it lives up. The difficulty forces you to use these combos and get into good positioning, otherwise you’ll die. A lot. Occasionally the difficulty can feel cheap by spamming a bunch of enemies at you with little room to maneuver. But alternatively, you can be a bit cheap by simply dashing through enemies. It’s worth noting checkpoint placement can sometimes be a little harsh but I didn’t find this too annoying.
The lack of enemy variety is Phantom Trigger‘s greatest downfall. You will encounter most of the enemies the game has to offer in the opening hour. There’s a few variations of each, but they don’t offer much. In the 6 hours or so it takes to complete the game you’ll get bored of fighting the same enemy types. Boss fights (with the exception of the final) are much better and offer a light puzzle element as it’s not immediately obvious what you need to do.
And speaking of puzzles, there’s a small handful of smaller puzzles dotted around the game. Simple memory puzzles and reflex puzzles that have you hitting objects with certain attacks.
Beyond the main campaign, there’s multiple endings to unlock that depend on your actions throughout the game and an arena mode. So there is plenty of content to keep you busy for a dozen or so hours.
It’s a shame Phantom Trigger doesn’t live up to its potential, though, as the lack of variety and weak story really bring the core gameplay down.
Clearly inspired by Hyper Light Drifter, but the lack in visual variety bogs the game down a bit.
The gameplay can occasionally shine even though the game features some dodgy mechanics.
Good sound design if just a bit forgettable.
Even though the story and variety is lacking, there’s some fun to be had in here.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Phantom Trigger is available now on Xbox One, Switch, PC, PS4
A copy of Phantom Trigger was provided by the publisher.