Phantom trigger is the story of Stan who we get to know as someone who’s health is deteriorating and is given 3 options by his Doctor. His options are to live out the rest of his days with no treatment where he will surely die. He can opt to have surgery or he can try to have an experimental treatment. I won’t spoil it for you but you can probably guess as to the option chosen. You start off in a neon world in despair that seems as though it is an alternate reality filled with dread which feels somewhat Alien. Periodically throughout the game the story will flick back to the real world. Naturally you want to find out what is happening and I would say this is one of the hooks. There are some key things which will happen in the game which will influence which ending you get to, of which there are 4. When you meet your first NPC you are told that anyone who passes through will die very quickly! You got that right!
I like the sound effects in Phantom Trigger, I think they suit the game really well. I really enjoyed the music and the only disappointment for me is that there wasn’t slightly more variety. As you enter each new zone the track changes but it’s only slightly different to the last. The music track really suits this Neon world though.
For me the visuals and animations are incredible for an Indiegame. I love how each different weapon is animated especially the Fist punch and Whip. I really enjoy the Neon type world and it’s lighting. The creatures are designed really well and I had no doubts as to where I was.
Let’s get straight to the point, Phantom Trigger is hard! No matter what setting you choose, It’s a pure hack and slasher with intense action but the fact this has a story to make you want to carry on gives you purpose you are going to die so many times that I don’t care to count. My first thought on this for me personally was utter frustration and I can imagine that if everyone bought this game there would be a fair few that will just give up and say this is not worth the hassle as it’s not fun. Think of Darksouls to get an idea if you have played that game about how often you are going to bit the dust.
What that game and this one has in common though is that if you persevere for long enough you will get better, you will level up your character and weapons, and you will soon understand that you just can’t rush in as you will die. Simple as that. You need to understand the enemies or group of enemies then strategise and execute. The thing is you need to want to get better and the game needs to offer fun in order for you to want to. See I am a glutton for punishment and challenge so for me it is something I wanted to overcome. I need to point out that for some it may just be way too hard. There is no tutorial here so you have to figure out the challenge all by yourself. I am sick to death of games telling me and signposting me in every direction so this is welcome but there surely must be a happy medium?
Once you figure out what each button does you will start to understand what you can do as Stan. You can teleport on screen from one part of the screen to another to dodge attacks or get past obstacles, you will have a close range attack which looks like a sword attack. A longer range weapon which does hardly any damage but brings your enemies within striking range and then your medium range attack which can hit multiple enemies at one. Mix all of these together and you can become the perfect killing machine. Each of these skills also levels up the more you use them. The enemies have set patterns of attack. Some have long range attacks which you must dodge and others are close range. You must learn each of their patterns to defeat them with your range of skills. Often enemies with all of their differing strengths and weaknesses will be pitted against you at the same time. This is where your skills will be tested to the fullest, get further and those enemies will temporarily be resistant to fire, or ice attacks, each of your attacks are elemental, ie sword is Ice, Fist is fire for example. This really increases he challenge and causes makes you think on your feet even more so. Luckily there are some checkpoints but even reaching the next one sometimes can prove a challenge. There are also some puzzles you need to work out and again the game does not give you any hints whatsoever so you will need to really engage your brain to work them out! You can also interact with some of the environments usually with your whip to manipulate an item to fire an arrow as an example. You will come across huge crystals of differing colours. Bash these for increasing your skills further. You will also come across this what look like hug mirrors which when found will also increase your skill level for a certain element. You have bars at the top which is great to show how much each skill is needed to increase by a bar. You will also find this large stones which will give you information on the level of your skills which is really sweet. Hidden in the pause menu there is also a coop mode where you can break off the joycons and play with a friend which is awesome. The only downer is you share the same health bar.
Once you start killing everything on screen you feel great because you have learnt all of this yourself with no hand holding. It’s just so satisfying, when you come to the bosses, you will again struggle because each one requires you to kill it in a unique way There will be clues for each one but it will require a lot of trial and error. As always here at SwitchWatch we will not spoil that for you as I always believe there should be some surprises after watching a review.
As you reach each new area, to which there are 4, the challenge increases with new enemies and you will have to learn their patterns all over again so the challenge is there. You will feel great once you have beat the game.
The game will give you 7-10 hours dependent on how many times you die and your skill level. The game is priced at £13,49 in the UK and $14,99 in the USA. Considering this is a game made by two people you would be forgiven for thinking it was produced by a small studio of people such is the quality of the product. So for the money I would say it’s decent value although if it was £10 I would have said it was amazing value. Once you finish the game you will unlock Arena mode which I need to play further but it is a very stiff challenge and is more like an endurance mode. To get the most out of Phantom Trigger you will also need to go off the beaten track to find items Which will lead to better combos and to get completeness to the story. Whether you will risk it though only to die again is your choice.