(Review) Phantom Trigger

Ready for an adventure in the land of… your own character’s mind? You start off talking to your lady and then faint. Phantom Trigger transitions to introduce you to a character in a strange land with strange characters ready to set out on an adventure! Suddenly you’re taken back to “reality” and see that the main character has the death-cancer and there are few options for you. This back and forth mildly drags me out of the immersion of the game, but does it keep me interested? Let me break it down for you as best I can.

Like I said though, you are Stan in the real world and The Outsider in the other. I can only assume that the alternate reality where you have combo moves and special powers is a direct result of treatment you are undergoing. The back and forth bothered me at first like the first and second season of The Arrow did. I was abruptly pulled from the action and taken to a slower-paced story bit that I couldn’t control other than scrolling through text. Slowly it grew on me though and instead of breaking the immersion, it was a welcome break that deepened the story as a whole. The characters in the alternative reality where manifestations of the real world where Ant was your wife and so on. I tend to take things literally so it seemed pretty straight forward to me. I’m not sure how one is supposed to wonder which is the real reality, but that’s what’s posed in the Steam description… go figure. It gets a little crazier as you progress because you end up meeting your alter ego and… well it’s weird to say the least.

The second boss fight wasn’t as great as the first. The third was strange, but way better than this run-around-a-thon. It was fun, but still… it felt really plain. It was a beautiful plain as is the rest of the game gorgeous pixel aesthetics.

The action is, by far, my favorite part of the game. It’s very rough though and the action can get pretty crazy very fast. Phantom Trigger is an action fest with combo-based fighting mechanics. The more you use one of your three moves, they level up individually. You get your combos as you progress through the game and three original moves gain additional buffs as you max them out. That’s what I assume at least. The basic sword swing, not that it’s maxed out, does a freeze move after lassoing baddies in and finishing a sword only combo. The neon pixelated-graphics only add to the beauty of the combat itself. It gets pretty hectic at times and they set traps around the levels where you suddenly get surrounded by walls of fire and bad guys will spawn until you dispatch them all. (This is where the frustration usually shows up due to enemy mechanics.) The bosses don’t seem to be as tough as the levels themselves that you have to get through to get to them. The first boss was a shielded baddy that took some strategy and the second was just a spawn room with moving fire lasers. The third was this funky baby with candles and wind and fireballs. I giggle when describing it, but it was pretty imaginative. I would hope the other bosses prove to be as cool as some have been if I can ever make it to them.

Co-op needs to be taken more seriously than this. It’s fun until it’s not for the second player when you poof off of the screen.

Once again, I was enjoying this game and wanted to share the joy with a buddy since Phantom Trigger also has a co-op mode. The difficulty kicking up a notch every now and then and wiping the floor with me and hindering me from progressing feels less annoying compared to playing in co-op (but better than CRYPTARK). The co-op mode is something different. Once again, there is no split-screen action. I seriously don’t get the lack of this feature. The camera focuses on player one and player two can be left behind or can dash right off of the screen. I know that if you’re seasoned enough you’ll focus better and stay tight and on the screen. The only difference is that the action gets pretty crazy at times and you’ll be dashing to get out of the way of enemy attacks. When player two dashes off they can go off the screen in the chaos. You also share a life bar and that’s not a big deal, but when you die and start it back up, you need to initiate co-op mode again. It’s tiresome to say the least (if you’re doing as well as we did). All the parts by themselves aren’t much, but together give me the impression that they wanted to put co-op into the game and this was the easiest way to do it. While that may be the case, an update to the co-op would super welcome if they would “fix” some of the issues I have if not all of them.

With a story that seems to fit a Christopher Nolan movie more than some action game, Phantom Trigger really tries to pull something off here larger than what’s on the surface. I’m not just trying to blow smoke up anyone here, but the story is pretty good. I need to get to the ending because some people have said that it’s bad because it just ends and the devs tout four different endings. I’ll need to finish to see where my gameplay has led me. That said, with the difficulty, it’s almost unfortunate that some may never see the ending to this game including myself (and I hate when I can’t beat a game when the story is cool). The game is fun regardless: the combat, the pixel aesthetics, the combo system with cool powers all make a neat experience. If anything they should do some more work on the co-op mode and make an easy setting for me so I can progress a little farther and see how Phantom Trigger ends.

Further Reading on Phantom Trigger: Official Page / Steam / Twitter

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