Phantom Trigger (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 26.08.2017

Review for Phantom Trigger on Nintendo Switch

Remember that indie-action darling about a teleporting swordsman with dozens of enemies on-screen and brutal difficulty? The one where the protagonist has discoloured skin and a pixel-art style that waxes nostalgia from a gaming era gone by? The one that came out on Wii U and now might be heading to Nintendo's Switch, especially having its character added to the upcoming port of Brawlout. No, forget Hyper Light Drifter. This is not that one at all. Instead, this is Phantom Trigger, a similar experience, except one that is totally not fun to play at all, be it on PC, or in this Switch form.

Phantom Trigger is a frustrating game on multiple levels. Rarely does such a simple title have such a profound ability to irritate thanks to a bevy of small things culminating into a festering boil of obnoxious design. At first it seems like this might be a stylish pixel-actioner with a cerebral premise and strange alien landscapes, but then after playing a few hours it turns out to be an excruciating bore with sloppy hit detection, pedestrian level design, and an overreliance on tedious memory puzzles that gate progress. The pixel art looks okay enough, though, if a bit uninspired and derivative.

The action animations in Phantom Trigger have a nice visceral anger to them, also the range on the more basic attacks is far too short for such small sprites. It becomes too much of a risk to move such a small and fast moving character so closely to enemies when the main sword attack feels so ineffectual. The scarf-whip would make for a great attack if the hit box for it wasn't so precise where it feels like trying to rest a grain of rice on a flying bullet. The early acquired fisticuffs feel like the most effective weapons, but are hampered only by how slow and stiff they feel to use and the lack of being able to cancel just makes the experience feel sluggish. Much like Hyper Light Drifter, this is an overhead action title with teleportation as a gimmick to add a layer of depth to the on-screen action, only here it's really unpolished since there isn't any skill tied to chaining a combo of teleporting and the protagonist's travel distances are way too long. With such vast teleportation, it is so easy to over-shoot and always be off target, never hitting any enemies.

Screenshot for Phantom Trigger on Nintendo Switch

On the off-chance a groove is made, and hitting enemies becomes possible, the enemy AI is fairly limiting and will frequently always be retreating. It's very common to always be missing attacks and be off by a couple of pixels because of how hit detection and AI's propensity for always trying to get away keep Phantom Trigger's encounters feeling like a bad game of tag where everyone is throwing projectiles at whoever is "it." Playing on the easier difficulties won't make it any more enjoyable since all it does is add more checkpoints and make enemies slightly weaker. Avoiding the frustratingly clunky combat is not possible since Phantom Trigger does have scripted lockdown areas or arenas that force people to fight using these combat mechanics, which are made worse when things get colour-coded. In a game that is already a visual assault on the senses from a garish neon palette, having to keep track of three different attack types just gets exhausting when there is a ton of junk on-screen and overdone memory puzzles.

There is a story in Phantom Trigger, but at no point does it ever feel engaging and feels completely separate to the ongoing action. None of the narrative is cohesive to the gameplay and the scenes of a guy succumbing to a terminal condition couldn't be more worthless since they undermine the action in the core, which is just a generic hack n' slash with no depth. Even after the whole thing is over, thinking back, most of the details are a blur and there really is nothing memorable about anything that happens; it all just lacks any real heart at all. It just comes off as some cynical approach to making a prototypical "indie" story in a retro-looking action release and that the developer ticked off every check mark on the list of indie game design clichés. It's shocking that there weren't any rogue-like or randomly generated levels. Phantom Trigger is not worth anyone's time, unless they really want to play a poor man's Hyper Light Drifter.

Screenshot for Phantom Trigger on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 3 out of 10


Not only is Phantom Trigger agonising to play, but it is also really mind-numbingly boring. The game's cycle is just going through linear areas, being forced to fight, and then having to do a 'Simon Says' style memory game. There are some unremarkable boss battles, with no fun factor at all, all following a very similar formula. At about five hours, this kind of game doesn't seem long, but five hours for Phantom Trigger feels like real hard work. The only saving graces are some attempt at having some visual style and some interesting looking designs.


Bread Team







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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