The Insight: In Phantom Trigger, Strategy Kept Our 17 Year Old Critic Alive

By: Ronald Gordon

Dungeon games are some of my favorite pastimes, mainly because all of them feel special. Some have different stories and characters while others have different skills and weapons to choose from when fighting monsters. However, some of them are unique enough that lumping them in with the other dungeon games would undersell the true enjoyment that these games can bring.  

Phantom Trigger is an indie Action/Adventure game developed by Bread Team and published by Tiny Build. The game follows the story of a man named Stan who becomes sick with a highly treatable disease. Stan chooses to take a rather experimental, and less expensive, treatment and finds himself in a surreal dream world of dungeons filled with monsters, while in a comatose state. You follow Stan as he adventures through the dungeons to try and find his way out and cure his sickness before it’s too late.

In the game, you progress through the fantasy world as an unnamed ninja with many different abilities. You start out with a whip that pulls enemies toward you, an ice cube that you use to slice enemies or freeze them in their tracks, and a dash ability that lets you jump around the levels and the enemies in seconds. Eventually, you get a fire cube that lets you use big claw hands to punch enemies or set them ablaze. You can also combine your different weapons and skills to form combo moves or initiate devastating attacks, such as making a ring of fire or launching a trio of ice missiles.

Phantom Trigger is a game that stresses innovation and strategy as the enemies are relentless and require players to focus on mixing and matching different attacks and strategies to better their chances of survival. It also only has two difficulty choices, normal and hard, unlike the classic three choices – easy, normal, and hard – that most games have, so there’s no taking it easy when it comes to this game or your enemies.

Nothing about Phantom Trigger really threw me off except for the fact that I died a lot, because I was not good at making strategies at first. The planning is one of the things that sold me on this game. However, dying repeatedly really forced me to think up different strategies for different levels and made me want to use other skills and attacks more often. Another good thing about this game is its graphics; the pixelated style is compelling as it’s used in a way where even the smallest details are sharply visible and realistic. The music, a wonderful mix of retro and techno, is relevant to the scenes that use it, which makes the soundtrack itself something to look forward to when playing this game.

Phantom Trigger is a great game that I would recommend for someone who likes a good dungeon crawler every now and again to spice things up. The strategy and the challenge are definitely things to embrace as they give the player something to be interested in and want to figure out. And the story is told through unusual, fever-dream-like cuts between reality and fantasy. All these make Phantom Trigger especially alluring.

Ronald Gordon is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern, part of our ongoing partnership with Bronx’s DreamYard Prep School.

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