Phantom Trigger (Review)
After our interview about Phantom Trigger and its Nintendo Switch release, tinyBuild games sent us a review code so we could dive into this “hardcore neon slasher” and see what it’s all about. Phantom Trigger is a hack-and-slash game focused on exploring dungeons and defeating difficult enemies, and there’s more to this game than is first apparent.
In Phantom Trigger, you wield three different weapons, each of which is controlled by one of the Switch’s face buttons. The fourth face button lets you dash to evade attacks or quickly move across the map. Each of the three weapons has strengths and weaknesses, as well as its own neon color used for certain color-based puzzles. As you fight with each weapon, you level them up and unlock combos that you can use by quickly stringing different attacks together. A vital part of combat, however, is learning each enemy’s movements and attacks so that you can fight them effectively.
You’ll visit several dungeon areas as you play, and each has secrets beyond the required path. These include items you can take back to the hub area and use while interacting with its inhabitants. Each dungeon has its own theme, and checkpoints to save your progress are typically well-placed aside from a few frustrating sections. There isn’t a huge variety in enemy types, but each area adds a few new enemies to the mix.
Phantom Trigger is very light on tutorials and generally leaves you to figure things out yourself. Aside from one late-game situation where I got stuck and still don’t know how I progressed, it is structured in a way to let you intuitively figure out how to proceed, although this does add a bit of trial and error to boss battles.
Challenging combat and exciting combos might be the surface appeal of Phantom Trigger, but the story itself is also quite intriguing. While you fight in the strange, dark world as the warrior known as the Outsider, the game occasionally shifts focus to a man named Stan who is struggling with health issues. At first, it isn’t clear how these two are connected, but the more I saw, the more interested I became in finding out the truth.
A playthrough of Phantom Trigger lasts seven hours or so. There are multiple endings to encourage repeated playthroughs, as well as an unlockable Arena mode for additional combat, but the length of the main game is the perfect amount of time to keep it from feeling repetitive and let players enjoy its thought-provoking story.