Phantom Trigger (Review) Nintendo Switch

Phantom Trigger (Review) Nintendo Switch
Review Score:

Phantom Trigger by developer Bread Team – a two-man squad comprised of a programmer and 2D pixel artist – is a self-proclaimed ‘Neo Slasher’ with Rogue-lite gameplay mechanics. The game begins with the story’s protagonist, Stan, sitting alongside his wife at the doctor’s office. This brief introduction (which is a quick verbal exchange between the characters) eludes to Stan being very ill. This segment ends with Stan collapsing to the floor, where he is spirited away to an entirely new universe. From there, the player gets to control the ‘Outsider’; Stan’s alter ego in this alternate universe.

Soon after arriving, the Outsider learns of his existence from a character named Toad. This NPC also urges the Outsider to visit the ‘Tree’, who will provide the player with a sword and open a portal to the first of many dungeons. As confusing as this may sound, Phantom Trigger’s dungeons play an integral role in revealing Stan’s story, his connection to the Outsider, and the new world he has to explore. The dungeons themselves contain a number of locations that will unlock small cinematic sequences that slowly explain Stan’s backstory and condition. In a lot of ways, Phantom Trigger’s story feels like a psychological thriller that was taken straight from a sci-fi novel.

 

The dungeons themselves are eerily dark,  adorm with chipped stone floors; deep, purplish hues; and strange, cybernetic attributes that resemble trace lines from computer circuit boards. The creatures that inhabit the dungeons – including the ones with CRTs for heads – add to the game’s cyberpunk vibe, which is consistant throughout the game. It’s also common for the action to pixelate into large boxes to segue into a quick cinema, and surprisingly — these transitions are not only smooth, but they never interfere with the gameplay.

Combat is challenging and punishing all at the same time. As the player explores the game’s many dungeons, monsters will materialize out of thin air and attack in large groups. In some instances, these encounters box the player in with fiery barriers that prevent escape. Initially, the Outsider only has a sword, and attacking is accomplished by simply tapping X button. But as the game progresses, the Outsider will obtain a whip and a large, red glove to enhance his arsenal.

The whip is useful against enemies that like to keep their distance. By pressing Y button, the player can ‘pull’ most enemies in to be dispatched. The red glove – much like the Outsider’s sword – is a powerful melee weapon that can land multiple hits on an enemy when A button is pressed repeatedly. While slower than the sword, the glove is capable of dealing twice the damage.

The enemy AI exhibits impressive traits, as injured enemies retreat and then slink behind the player to counter-attack. This tactic places stress on the player, preventing them from standing still for too long. The game actually encourages the player to keep moving by including the ability to dash, which is accomplished by holding the Left Analog stick in the desired direction, and then pressing B button at the same time. This is the best way to survive most combat encounters.

Despite all the positives mentioned above, Phantom Trigger isn’t without its faults. For example: The dungeons – while breathtakingly beautiful – all look the same. There’s also a limited number of monsters to battle, which is disappointing. This creates a feeling of repetition that can hinder the overall experience. Luckily, the boss encounters are varied enough to break up the repetition.

As a game, Phantom Trigger is an entertaining action Rogue-lite that doesn’t include all the penalties associated with the genre. Even a beginner can enjoy Phantom Trigger without any prior knowledge of the genre, and still enjoy themselves. This is reason alone to purchase Phantom Trigger for Nintendo Switch; it’s really that good, despite some of its shortcomings.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Bread Team
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
ESRB: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Price: $14.99

Phantom Trigger Official Website:
http://www.tinybuild.com/phantom-trigger

Review Score
Graphics
Gorgeous 2D graphics and smooth animation.
Sound
Great music and sound effects.
Gameplay
Combat is challenging and punishing all at the same time.
Overall
Phantom Trigger is an entertaining game that is worth the price of admission.
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