PHANTOM TRIGGER – Colorful Hack and Slash Barely Misses The Mark (FIRST IMPRESSIONS)
Phantom Trigger is a hack and slash adventure by Bread Team, the studio that created Divide By Sheep, a well received mobile and Steam game. The game seems to be inspired by other recent indies such as Hyper Light Drifter or Dead Cells with its fast paced, quick reaction game play. It also promises an intriguing story to go alongside the beautiful madness. Does it succeed and carve itself a space of its own in the indie scene? Well, let’s go over it. Keep in mind, this is a few hours in first impressions, not a full review.
So the story in this game is what I feel sets it apart from other similar games. You play as Stan, a whitecollar middle-class worker. I know it doesn’t look like that at all, but let me explain. Spliced into the game are small segments that portray current day situations with your actual character. As the game goes on, it becomes more clear why the game switches from these very different perspectives. With the way the game implements the real life parts, I’d say it does a pretty great job with its story. As a bonus, the characters don’t speak some strange alien language, so I understood what was going on compared to Hyper Light Drifter.
While the story is enjoyable, the reason most would be interested in Phantom Trigger is for the game play. It’s definitely your standard colorful hack and slasher in this regard. You can use your sword for standard attacks, you can pull enemies to you and throw environmental items with your whip, and you can do heavy damage with your gauntlets. You can also dodge enemy attacks with the dodge mechanic, which happens to be the first problem I have with this game. At times I’ve been fighting a group of enemies and hit the dodge button, but my character wouldn’t acknowledge it. Perhaps it’s intended since I was often in the middle of a combo when I hit it, but that’s not usually the case in games like this. If it is intended, it doesn’t feel very good or fluid, and it can be the difference between life and death in most situations. Speaking of life and death, this game is hard. Oftentimes there’s more than one enemy thrown at you at a time, occasionally with a sort of barrier that only allows certain attacks. There’s one particular enemy I have in mind that has hit me the most, the hitboxes on the bouncy ball things are really annoying, only allowing you to hit them while they’re on the ground between bounces. Not a frame too soon or too late either. The barriers initially felt very contrived to enforce more difficulty, but it did have me paying more attention to my positioning and who to attack first.
Last thing about the game play is the checkpoints, which definitely don’t have to be placed in the middle of a bunch of enemies that jump you as soon as you load up the game.
So, a colorful hack and slasher that could do better in some areas, but do I think the issues hold the whole game back? No, but they’re definitely a hindrance on the experience. While I love the look, atmosphere, music, and story of this game, the quirks that the game play presents sour the joy I feel at times. I’d say that if you see a demo or trial available, it’s definitely worth a shot, especially if you want a challenge. Otherwise, Phantom Trigger is $15 on Steam (as of Aug 11th its 20% off on Steam) and the Nintendo Switch.