Phantom Trigger is a stylish button mashing brawler that features demons, traps, puzzles, and a little bit of Mystery. Developer Bread Team (Divide by sheep) and publisher Tinybuild (SpeedRunners) have delivered a fun action neon slasher for those looking for a challenge and some callouses.
As the mysterious “Outsider” battle your way through two interweaving stories in this top down dungeon crawler. Game play as The Outsider is interrupted in the phantom realm by the real world of Stan, a very sick man plagued by delusions of another life. Bouncing back and forth between worlds allows the player to slowly unravel the mystery of how these two stories intertwine. The choices you make along the way in both worlds matter as there are four alternate endings.
Building character stats, adding new weapons to your arsenal, and unlocking new abilities makes Phantom Trigger’s combat more enjoyable over time, but don’t get me wrong this game is not easy; even only offering a normal and hard setting in the options. Difficulty increases in long levels with few save points, health being sparse at times, and combo interrupting demons that swarm the Outsider keeping Phantom Trigger nerve-wracking the whole game. Playing this game with a keyboard and mouse is very difficult with its default button mapping and offers no place to remap them, but is very intuitive when played with a controller. Two controllers allows for couch co-op mode to be toggled at anytime, but both players share a single health bar so choosing the right ally is crucial.
The combat is the highlight of Phantom Trigger, executing a combo and dashing away became second nature quickly. The ice bomb and dash was a necessity in my combat style since enemies are able to interrupt a combo at anytime. Even the sound effects that accompany the attacks actually grew to be so ingrained in my mind I was disappointed whenever a combo was interrupted by an enemy attack or a cut scene.
The ability tree can be leveled up to seven for each skill unlocking new combos along the way by battling with a particular weapon or releasing large amounts of ability experience for one of the three stats from mirrors hidden amidst maze like levels.
Outsider moves from a simple whip like scarf that pulls enemies close to an ice sword and on to powerful fire knuckles- the enemies also increase in difficulty. Once you master one kind of monster, a new one shows up, and soon after a new variant of a previously mastered monster appears. All the while different demons are resistant to some types of attacks and others just can’t be affected by attacks at certain times; the game challenges you to pay attention at all times. Giving the player little to no instructions challenges the player to figure things out throughout the game, how to defeat a given obstacle, enemy, or even how to react to a situation for Stan.
If you love similar games in this genre like Hyper Light Drifter and Transistor than Phantom Trigger is for you. This RPG rouge-like slasher is enjoyable, and even better with a friend. There is a great foundation for a game here but overall the story fell flat. I felt disconnected from the characters, saw little meaningful interactions between them, and the game even lacked a big final boss battle.
Pros: Fun, easy cooperative play, stylish, interesting world, short, good mystery.
Cons: Lots of glitches, lackluster story, collecting items for NPCs seems to be pointless, poor character interactions.
Here is the Phantom Trigger Launch Trailer:
Phantom Trigger is available for PC on Steam and Nintendo Switch.