Nintendo Switch/Steam

Steam review code provided by publisher

According to Bread Team, the developers of Phantom Trigger they have made a “Hardcore Neon Slasher”. When I first heard that phrase I thought to myself “that’s not a thing”. Having played Phantom Trigger, Bread Team has made it a thing and I’m glad they did.

Phantom Trigger Reveiw
The Outsider’s whip in action

The gameplay in Phantom Trigger is silky smooth, as well as being extremely satisfying

Compelling Narrative

Phantom Trigger’s story follows a man named Stan, a man hunting down treatment for a mysterious illness as well as an amnesiac masked ninja, referred to only as ‘The Outsider’. Before each mission The Outsider can wander around a hub interacting with many strange characters, among them, a tree, a rabbit and a crocodile. Each of these characters have their own motivations and will try to get The Outsider to take actions which would further their own agendas The narrative arc of this game was a very pleasant surprise, as the game progresses things become muddied and it’s not always clear whose advice should be heeded and whose should be ignored.

Phantom Trigger Reveiw
Just what is your game tree-lady?

There are 4 different ending to Phantom Trigger, decided by your interactions and actions with these characters. I felt real tension making my decisions between levels. Over the course of the game I became quite invested in deciphering the mystery of Stan and The Outsider.

Phantom Trigger adds layer after layer of complexity to its combat, which only increases in difficulty as the game progresses

Whip It Good

The gameplay in Phantom Trigger is silky smooth, as well as being extremely satisfying, as soon you attain some proficiency. The Outsider has a whip he uses to pull enemies towards him, a sword to slash with and flaming knuckles that can be used to knock over enemies. He can also warp short distances. You use a combination of these to defeat a quite healthy variety of enemies in maze-like levels. As you defeat enemies with your different weapons they will level up individually, eventually giving you different special moves activated by specific combinations of buttons. These moves add layer after layer of complexity to the combat, which only increases in difficulty as the game progresses. There are also some colour based puzzles and combat, there’s the equivalent of Simon Says puzzles, and occasions when enemies are only vulnerable to the weapon in your arsenal of the corresponding colour.

Phantom Trigger Review
The beginning of a level, where I found myself after getting quite lost

Despite its relatively simplistic retro aesthetic Phantom Trigger’s combat feels visceral and urgent

You Died

This is a difficult game; however I found the difficulty to be pitched perfectly. Anytime you die it’s because your reflexes weren’t quick enough or your attention was in the wrong place. I died a lot, but I never felt cheated and I always felt compelled to retry.

Phantom Trigger review
Dammit Pam

Despite its relatively simplistic retro aesthetic the combat feels visceral and urgent. There can be a large number of enemies onscreen and your best form of attack is a hit and run style. If you stand still you will be harshly punished. You can also use the environment and even other enemies to your advantage; there is plenty of scope in this game to get creative. Though it is possible to completely bypass some enemies, I rarely found myself doing that, choosing instead to take the chance to engage in more of the excellent combat. Thankfully, dying in the game is not the overly punishing, there are several checkpoints laid out around each level. Stepping on the checkpoint pad with completely refill your health and sometimes give you a hint as to where to go next. The Outsider is vulnerable, but you’re given enough tools to face any challenge, if you can use them correctly. Dragging enemies towards you with the whip, landing a flurry of blows and then warping away feels great. There are occasions when the action gets a little too frantic; the second boss battle was especially guilty of this.

You’re given all the information you need in order to formulate the best plan of attack

Phantom Trigger Review
Phantom Trigger has a lot of creativity in its world.

Satisfying Soundscapes

Graphically this game is simplistic but functional, and occasionally even quite pretty. Your character stands out in the environment, the different enemy types are easy to identify. You’re given all the pertinent information you need in order to formulate the best plan of attack. As I mentioned in the introduction, according to the developers this is a Hardcore Neon Slasher so there is plenty of neon. The neon effects of your weapons all look powerful compounding the fun, brutal feeling of combat. The soundtrack and sound effects do deserve special mention. “Play best with Headphones” reads a message as the game loads up, and I would certainly second this advice. The pulsing electronic soundtrack, the satisfying sound effects of your weapons and the groans of defeated enemies combined with the trippy neon aesthetic work together to cause an almost hypnotic focus on the gameplay.

Phantom Trigger Review
The environment can be used to your advantage

Summary

Phantom Trigger is a game that isn’t going to set the world on fire but it will challenge and entertain you. It will test your reflexes and it will tell you an engaging story. PT will do all these things for a fair price of €14.99 and I would have no issue at all recommending Phantom Trigger.