Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
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Looking for some advice on managing your spells or maybe just need some directions around the Rift? Check out our Phantom Rift tips and tricks guide!
Phantom Rift by Foursaken Media is an adventure RPG featuring twisted monsters, hard-hitting magic, and dark, ethereal environments littered with hazards. How odd, then, that its main inspiration is a series of colorful games starring a little blue robot.
Indeed, Phantom Rift plays very much like Mega Man Battle Network, a long-running series for the Game Boy Advance that places players on distinctive grid-based battlefields. Phantom Rift's similarities to the Battle Network series aren't a black mark against the former, though. It's been a long time since we've seen anything related to Battle Network, and the fighting system is still compelling. Going a few rounds with Phantom Rift proves as much.
That's not to suggest Foursaken Media's misty adventure is perfect. It moves quite slowly, and battles can be drawn-out affairs for anyone that doesn't know exactly what they're doing. It's still a big effort on Foursaken Media's part, and for the most part it succeeds in delivering a pleasant experience.
Players take up the staff of a mage-like hero (or heroine) in the dark "phantom rift." This weird space seems to be a place for souls trapped between the worlds of the living and the dead. Players need to find a way out and hopefully back to the corporeal world, with its hamburgers and pizza and Kenny Loggins albums.
The titular rift serves as a hub for other levels. Players wander through these weird areas (which are composed of blocks that lift up and fall away as they approach), looking for treasure and escape portals. And occasionally they're pulled into random battles.
Fights take place on a 6x3 grid: half belonging to the player, and the other half to enemies. Players can continuously shoot weak attacks from their staff, but the real meat of combat is in the spell pouch. Said pouch contains powerful offensive and defensive spells that can do everything from shoot energy blasts to steal some of the bad guys' territory. Spells take up mana, which regenerates gradually but can also be recharged by putting unwanted spells back into the spell pouch. Either way, hard-hitting magic costs a lot of mana and can't be used carelessly.
Phantom Rift has one thing Battle Network never had, though: fancy visuals. Phantom Rift looks great, but the detail can make it hard to read battles. Sometimes it's difficult to tell what row or column the enemies are standing on, which occasionally results in having a magic spell swish harmlessly over a monster's head. Since a certain amount of time must lapse before the player is allowed to take spells from their pouch again, there's a lot of waiting around and methodically dodging attacks while picking away at the enemy's hit points with weak staff attacks.
The player's avatar also moves at a pace that would make a tortoise tap its foot impatiently. Nobody wants to feel bogged down in a game featuring random battles.
Despite these issues, Phantom Rift is an ambitious mobile adventure - and it's available for a great price. Foursaken Media may have scrambled a bit with its footing this time around, but that just means a Phantom Rift sequel (it's coming, right?) will be even tighter and more polished.