Hack and slash your way through a set of similar neon colored enemies.
I love some solid hack and slash fun on the go. While the gameplay can be intense, I don't need to put much thought into it. This is where Phantom Trigger, made by Bread Team, comes in. Phantom Trigger’s strengh is in its melding of beautiful pixel art with sharp gameplay. However, it does leave a few things left to be desired.
For starters, I think that the story is mediocre at best. Phantom Trigger tries its best to tell a hard hitting narrative about a guy named Stan. Stan suffers from a terminal illness and isn't in the best place of mind. You see his illness play out in flashbacks. Most of the gameplay takes place in an alternate reality known as the Neon World where you play as the Outsider. This mysterious figure is ignorant of Stan’s past, though it unfolds as you progress. The story feels scatterbrained and without proper build up. It ends rather suddenly on one of the game’s multiple endings.
Things start to look up with the gameplay. In the Neon World’s hub you interact with dwellers who send you on various missions. You hop into a portal, go to that specific area, and complete the task at hand. These tasks don't go much further than collecting items and defeating enemies. The various attacks are enjoyable to perform and the action is fluid enough. There is a solid challenge and weight to everything you do. You won’t have to rely on the game’s collectibles to feel accomplished.
While the progression of the levels feel good, I wasn't happy with certain decisions made. Many of the smaller enemies that you find are too similar: they’re mostly elemental variations. After a while, you start to wonder if they’re going throw you something new. That never happens with the grunts, but the bosses are an exception. They’re the absolute highlight of Phantom Trigger with each having unique patterns and weaknesses. They are a true showcase of your skills and make for intriguing showdowns.
The best way to enjoy Phantom Trigger is with a friend. If you play it together in co-op, the problems are alleviated a little as you work through the enemies at a steadier pace. This is also perfect for less experienced players as the combat has a lot to take in. No matter if you play it in tabletop or television mode, it’s perfectly playable with a singular Joy-Con. The visuals and performance are sharp with only small stutters present in the Nintendo Switch release. It didn't really impact my gameplay experience, and I felt that it did the trick nicely.
Phantom Trigger is one of those games that you play through once. You won't play it for the story, but the rewarding combat and flashy environments are here to entertain. These will keep you glued to your screen until the credits roll. The enemies and objectives don't really change for the most part, but at least they give you a reasonable challenge. The game is perfectly fine with those looking for something quick and flashy, but don't expect something you will remember months from now. With 6 hours on the counter, it’s over before you know it.