Tuesday, September 30, 2014

IOS Review #87: Phantom Rift

Title: Phantom Rift
Developer: Foursaken Media
Platforms: IOS Universal, Android
Price: $2.99
I'll be honest, I'm somewhat biased towards Foursaken's games. From Block Fortress and Heroes & Castles to Bug Heroes 2, I've enjoyed all of their unique genre-blending experiences. I didn't think Bug Heroes 2 would be topped any time soon, but I was wrong. Phantom Rift is an excellent mix of twitch action and tactical strategic gameplay.
You're a wanderer among the tiles of the Rift, journeying across its portals to defeat the powerful bosses that control each realm. Phantom Rift is a sprawling adventure, its hub world alone fraught with danger and secrets and merchants to purchase new gear and magic. Each area feels unique, with new enemies to face and environmental features, from the misty darkness of the Rift itself to the deserts, lava, ice fields, and more of the other levels.
But Phantom Rift's strongest element is its combat, providing challenging action that's both twitchy and tactical. Upon encountering enemies, you're whisked to a grid divided into your half and the enemy's half. Enemies are varied and diverse, offering a strategic challenge as they're able to steal tiles on your side and encroach your territory or perform attacks that affect certain tiles. Knowing how enemies behave and avoid their attacks is the twitch side of Phantom Rift, dodging arrows as hulking beetles charge onto your side and spear-wielding goblins steal tiles.

The tactical side is even more engrossing, and makes every battle of Phantom Rift a test of timing, positioning, and smart use of your spells. You're presented a selection of five spells from your spell pouch at certain intervals, allowing you to tailor your strategies to the foes you're facing and the play style you prefer. Would you rather steal tiles and attack up close? Or use range attacks that effect certain tiles? Or summon phantom helpers? Or buff your armor and deflect projectiles? And these strategies are possible with only a fraction of the myriad spells available in the game. Gear you equip, from gauntlets and helmets to robe and staffs, add more diversity, allowing you to improve your stats and grant you new abilities.
Phantom Rift impresses not only on a mechanical level, but visually as well. While the game certainly isn't the next Infinity Blade, it's charming and loaded with great details, from the lighting to the effects of your spells. My main gripe with the game - the slow walking speed that made exploration a slog - was addressed in the latest update and even that issue couldn't diminish Phantom Rift's strengths. You can purchase Phantom Rift for $2.99. (Android)

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