Oct 29, 2014
Phantom Rift is an unusual little game with a world just as weird as its gameplay. We play as a mage who gets thrown into a limbo dimension for an unspecified reason. The only thing that the main character remembers is that (s)he was a powerful mage in the real world. A wisp that happened to be nearby explains that the rift has all sorts of entities, most of them malicious, so the mage will have to use his rich spellbook if he is to proceed through the endless levels of the rift.
Phantom Rift gameplay has two parts that seamlessly transition into each other. The character walks around a map that is literally building around him as he goes. The map contains various treasures that give precious loot, and portals that can transfer the hero to different parts of the rift, and every once in a while, a random encounter happens. Then, the game switches to the battle mode. The map shrinks into a small area, divided into two zones, three rows by three columns each. The enemies move around their half of the field, mostly at random, between the squares, and attack the hero in various ways. The hero needs to evade these attacks and try to kill the enemies, using his basic weapon and a range of spells. The spells are the most interesting part of the game, so I’ll focus on them.
There can be thirty “active” spells that the hero can use during the battle. Many more can be found and bought during the game, but from them, and their copies, the hero can only equip thirty to use in battle. When the battle starts, the hero is presented with five random spells from the ones he equipped. Using each spell costs mana, so some of them have to be destroyed in order to generate more of it. The ones the player chose can then be cast at any time during the battle. The hero can repeat the spell cycle every several seconds. The system is very unusual, but it works great and there’s plenty of spells to choose from. At times, it almost feels like a trading card game, since the spells should compliment each other, and different spells should be used against different kinds of opponents.
Overall, Phantom Rift is pretty captivating, even though the gameplay is always the same, and the random encounters sometimes feel like grinding. It has great world and battles that are resolved by tactics as well as luck, and a loot-hoarding element, so it’s an incredible time-waster. I recommend it both to Diablo players who want something more tactical, and turn-based action players who want something more exciting.