What it is: A Hardcore Neon Slasher with RPG and Roguelike elements developed by Bread Team and published by Tiny Build.
The game released 8/10/17 on Nintendo Switch and Steam for $14.99.
The last tinybuild game I played was Mr. Shifty, and I was a huge fan of that, so I’m quite bummed to give this game a much lower score. Here’s the main thing with Phantom Trigger: It’s f#*&ing hard, yo!
We scored a copy of ARMS whenever that came out, and my kids hammered away on it all weekend before I had a chance to play, so when I finally got around to playing against them, they each kicked my ass within seconds, gloating over me, taunting me into playing another round. I was like…nope. It wasn’t fun.
This is a universal truth with video games: Getting your ass handed to you repeatedly and never advancing just isn’t fun.
This wouldn’t be so bad in an open-world, but with a linear story, getting stuck sucks, and I saw this screen more than anything else:
The game starts off with a guy in his kitchen talking to his wife about breakfast options. He has a heart attack and collapses.
In the next scene, you play as the whacked-out ninja-looking guy who arrives by boat in a dark, twisted netherrealm populated by lizard-people.
To be fair, I wasn’t able to get past the first level. I kept getting to an area where four pillars arise from the ground and randomly generate lights. There’s a puzzle there I wasn’t able to figure out because every time you guess wrong, a bunch of monsters come out, and after the third round of monsters, I’m usually dead. These guys with TVs for heads shoot lasers across the screen at you.
I’m going to guess that the story reveals that the man has a disease and the ninja is his spirit animal or warrior soul that navigates his body to symbolically fight off the disease which is represented as these guys:
The controls are alright here. X is your whip, which brings the enemies to you like Scorpion’s “Get Over Here!” harpoon and deals minimal damage so you can tear them up with your sword, which is the Y button.
B allows you to teleport, which is the only similarity this game shares with Mr. Shifty.
My son will tell you that the graphics are “pixelated,” and he doesn’t like them. He’s 11, and this response makes no sense because he’s spent the last however many years of his life glued to Minecraft.
Sure, it’s got that retro feel, but the lighting is evolved and moody, and the music is similarly haunting. It feels much more modern than most 8 or 16-bit style modern games.
Why you should play it:
What can I say, people like a challenge. Hello, Dark Souls. Despite its throwback visual styling, the game boasts a rich and complex experience:
- A deep combat system focused on unlocking combos and upgrading weapons
- Handcrafted story driven levels mixed with roguelike-style dungeons
- A branching story with multiple endings
This is the retro game for a modern audience that people can really get into. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me.
Let us know what you think of Phantom Trigger in the comments section below!