Top down action games have had a welcomed renaissance in recent years. To fans of the genre that’s definitely a good thing and Phantom Trigger is an addition to the ranks that might interest you. Its art style is slick, its combat addictive and there’s even an interesting story in there to tie it all together.

The pixel art style has some lovely design work for characters and levels that helps to make it pop. The dungeons and enemies can sometimes feel a bit repetitive but luckily this is broken up by the combat. There are three main moves to master, all of which can be used in a different order to hit combos once you unlock them. Your green whip pulls enemies closer, your blue sword is your light attack and your red fist is your heavy attack.

At first these will feel a bit too repetitive but as you level them up and unlock the combos it really starts to open up. You level up your weapons by using them, on enemies and on objects. There’s also ways to use enemies against one another and once you start getting into the flow of things you’ll be hitting your combos and dragging enemies into each other whilst phasing out of the way with your teleport move.

Your teleportation move is key when it comes to dodging enemy attacks but also when it comes to navigating some of the more intricate parts of dungeons. It helps add speed to the flow of the game and stops each fight just being mindless button bashing. Avoiding attacks is extremely important, especially as the enemies get tougher. Depending on how well you time your teleportation dodge you can even slow the enemies down, making them easier to attack.

As you progress through levels you’ll be interrupted from time to time by short cut-scenes. These tell the story of Stan, a man that has decided to take an experimental treatment to help him deal with a life threatening illness. You will find out why Stan is important to your character the more you progress through the game but it’s definitely a story that is far more interesting than you’d upon an initial glance at the game.

Although it may look like a game you’ve played before there’s slickness to the graphics, fluidity to the combat and enough of an interest drummed up by the story and the unlockable combos to keep you going back to the game until the end. The inclusion of multiple endings means that there’s also enough of reasons to return to the world of Phantom Trigger even after the credits roll for the first time.

Each area is slightly different and the enemies will vary as you progress to new ones. At the end of each area is a boss fight, each with their own quirks that you’ll have to figure out if you want to defeat them and reach the end of the game. You’ll be able to reach the end in about 5 hours on your first run, although that will depend on how much you get stuck. Some fights can be overwhelming at times, especially when you’re restricted in the area you can move.

I found that Phantom Trigger was playable in each of the set ups I tried on the Switch. It felt most comfortable as a handheld game but worked on the television as well. The check-pointing system in the game means it can feel fairly natural as an on the go game. The only issue with this is, depending on how long you leave between play sessions, you may forget where you explored in the map, although checkpoints can help make it clearer where you have and haven’t been.

Phantom Trigger might be a hard sell if you’re not a fan of top down pixel brawlers but for those that love racking up combos in worlds with a great visual aesthetic it’s worth giving it a shot. It’s a fine addition to the Switch library and an exciting taste in what there is to come from the development team. There’s definitely enough here that you should be keeping an eye on what Bread Team does next.



Author

Brett Claxton

I like video games. That's why I write about them. I've played them for years and in that time I've found a love for creepy horrors, indie darlings and the oddities that come out of Japan. Although my main purpose on the site is to write up news and reviews I'm also one of the main Let's Play video creators of the team (or, as I call them, Brett's Play videos). You can check them out here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Bretteh2