Review: Phantom Trigger (Computer)

Phantom Trigger: Official GBAtemp Review

Computer 1,883 view 4 likes 6 comments
Reviewed by Prans Dunn, posted Aug 9, 2017, last updated Aug 9, 2017
Aug 9, 2017
  • Release Date (NA): August 10, 2017
  • Release Date (EU): August 10, 2017
  • Publisher: tinyBuild
  • Developer: BreadTeam
  • Genres: Action-adventure
  • Also For: Nintendo Switch
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
A grown-up adult who goes on adventures with his imaginary friends; did this game just describe us all?
Prans Dunn

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You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

 

Stan is losing control. The phantom realm brings arcane hexes into a pulsing neon reality, where demons fight in packs and use every trick they have to break your defense. Throw spells and traps mid-combo, ride the edge of control and chaos in this fresh take on action combat. You are your own worst enemy in Phantom Trigger.

The synopsis given by BreadTeam for its new game pretty much sums it up.

Take control of whitecollar middle-class worker, Stan, who up until being diagnosed with a serious condition was leading an ordinary life. Now he lives an extraordinary life...

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...at least in his head. He’s living two lives in parallel: a normal mundane one where he’s following therapy for his condition and a paranormal one where he wields swords and whips to fight his inner demons through neon-demonic worlds.

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What’s more is that those fabrications of Stan’s mind take control of his body and it’s up to you to help Stan gain control of his mind and body as he copes with his illness and unlock one of the 4 alternate endings available...

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Hyper Light Lite Drifter?

While there is no need to be subtle about the visual similarities between the two games, Phantom Trigger manages to hold its own as an action-adventure game by merging elements from slasher and RPG genres; it focuses on 4 simple action types - dash, whip, sword and punch - which can be combined for deadly combos while incorporating exploration sequences in the varied environments of the 5 distinct worlds.

Exploring the worlds of Phantom Trigger is a visual pleasure as you guide the “Outsider” along its vivid environments all fluidly animated. The swap between Stan’s subconscious and the real world as the screen flickers is a fitting method to transition between the adrenaline rush of battles and the more docile narration.

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Exploration is also rewarded as in so doing you can find experience points for your weapons and items that can be collected for the side characters and flesh out the story. There is also a generous number of checkpoints that double as LP refills so that you don’t have to backtrack a lot if the demons get the better of you.

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Enemies vary slightly in appearance and toughness as you move from level to level while each level’s unique boss requires a totally different approach than the previous one. With the dash action, you can choose to evade enemies or take them head-on for target practice or to level up your weapons and unlock the available combos. However, not all battles are avoidable as some will wall you off, forcing you to face the enemy.

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About the battles, they are pretty fun and the opponents will put up a fair fight but it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed by their sheer number. That’s when Phantom Trigger is the most challenging yet fun. In these situations, you’ll have to cunningly apply the most effective attack against the enemy type. Use your whip to bring those laser beam-shooting creatures with a CRT TV for a head up close for a good beating or use a hit-and-run approach by dashing and swinging your sword on those headbutting enemies. Surrounded? Use one of those three-button combos that are unlocked once you level up for a quick fix. Combats are indeed tough but fair, testing your aptitude in executing the most effective offence/defense tactic as required.

Additionally, the game features a local co-op mode where you can team up with a friend and tackle the levels side-by-side.

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The Devil Inside

While the game looks and plays pretty on paper, in practice, it has some issues and I'll mention the ones I've came across below.

First off, I would like to note that the mechanic required to inflict damage to and beat the current boss oftentimes does not feel intuitive since the mechanic involved has not been emphasized enough during the stage. This is no classic Zelda where every dungeon's boss will somehow use the item acquired there to best that dungeon's boss. I’ve often had to figure it out how through trial and error before it clicked. 

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What's the secret to beat this boss?

Another complain is the glaring omission of maps. Not that the levels are overly large but for the bigger ones, a map would have been handy; especially in fetch quests where you could have better scheduled an exploration route without bothering about losing your orientation during the fast-paced battle sequences.

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Hidden item found while lost...

Last but not least in the list of complaints is the controller issues that I’ve experienced. I’ve tried the game with an Xbox 360 controller, the GameSir G4s controller and the built-in GPD Win controller and the game had issues to properly recognizing the buttons with all of them. It would play flawlessly at times and at other times it wouldn’t recognize the controller. While the game is perfectly playable with a keyboard and mouse, it’s better suited to be played with a controller. And if you're thinking of playing in co-op, then may the odds be forever be in your favor! I reached out to the developers and they said that they are working on a fix but an update has yet to be released at the time of writing.

Triggered?

Comprised of a team of two, BreadTeam did an impressive job with Phantom Trigger, albeit not without issues.

Verdict
Pros
+ Fun, fast-paced battles with deep attacks and combos system
+ Interesting plot
+ Professionally rendered hi-bit visuals
+ Multiple endings
Cons
- Controller issues
- Boss battles not always intuitive
- Lack of maps
8 Presentation
The hi-bit visuals of Phantom Trigger are vividly portrayed, play fluidly and nicely transition between Stan’s subconscious and the real world.
7 Gameplay
The game features RPG-like elements and controls that are easy to get a hold of and combined for more effective combos. But I deplore the lack of proper controller support at the time of writing.
8 Lasting Appeal
Phantom Trigger easily offers 7+ hours of gameplay where you’ll indulge exploring and battling in the pretty retro-styled environments and with its 4 alternate endings, you’ll have an excuse to revisit the game more than once.
7.8
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Hi-bit visuals in an action-adventure game with RPG elements and alternate endings built by a team of two?! Need I say more?
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