The mind copes with challenge in interesting ways. As someone deals with health problems, the mind creates solutions to reflect and recover. Phantom Trigger throws you into battles with neon demons to help one man’s health as it begins to rapidly decline.
Phantom Trigger’s premise starts with a messy introduction. As players are greeted by the game’s 8-bit charm as the story focuses on two characters, Steve and his wife. Steve is your average, everyday white-collar citizen, working a 9-5 job to make an honest buck. All of this goes out the window when suddenly, he collapses and is thrown into a chaotic and mysterious neon world.
The game’s core game play is in the form of a hack-and-slash. Players progress through the story as a stylish neon ninja, dispensing doom to enemies through a handful of attacks. These attacks include a whip, that’s possibly your hair, a metaphysical fist projection, and your standard sword slash attack. The trio of abilities are levelled up through continuous use, as well as utilized for solving unique puzzles.
One of the major highlights of the game is the 8-bit charm. The fluid animation paired with the unique dungeon design creates a harmonious relationship in the overall machine that comprises Phantom Trigger. The designers managed to give more life to the environments by injecting more kinetic movement in each element challenging our neon ninja. While I wasn’t fighting off neon demons and other creatures, it was the environments that served as eye candy to add to my game experience.
In addition to the 8-bit graphics, Phantom Trigger succeeds in a good balance of puzzles and combat. As players master each skill, they can be utilized to give you an edge in combat or solve critical puzzles amidst the neon demon chaos. Punching neon demons with a projected energy fist leaves you with a sense of satisfaction, especially after fighting off a wave of demons that explode a couple of seconds later.
As Phantom Trigger succeeds in creating a unique hack-and-slash experience, it is weighed down by some drawbacks. The first thing that holds the game back is the repetition. Players take down enemies to level up their abilities, but after a while, it can seem like a chore rather than progress to an end goal. This element is necessary to combat, but I can’t help but feel the developers could have switched up more variances of the trio of skills you’re given. Why not be able to combo attacks together to create a super attack? This is something the developers could explore in a possible sequel if one is ever made.
The last thing that holds back Phantom Trigger is the lack of direction. The game doesn’t guide you nor tell you what abilities to use on specific demons, but rather makes players discover this on their own. It is debatable whether or not this adds to the game or takes away the experience, but I do applaud the developers for this risk they took to balance out the repetitive combat system.
Phantom Trigger seeks to add to the library of nostalgia shared by gamers of the 80s and ups the ante for the rogue lite genre. It doesn’t create anything players haven’t seen before, but gives us enough challenge to further entice us with facing down a legion of neon demons.
Phantom Trigger is currently priced at 14.99 on all platforms. If you’re not sure about committing yourself to this price, I’d also recommend waiting for a Steam or holiday sale on your respective gaming platform. I would recommend this game if you’re into a solid rogue-lite action RPG experience and want to revisit the 8-bit renaissance that has re-surged in these past couple of years of indie games.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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