Phantom Brigade PAX West Impression
Phantom Brigade’s combat system is distinct and has enough to it for tactical RPG fans to consider checking it out.
Brace Yourself Games brought a recently released title to PAX West with Phantom Brigade. The game, which fully launched on Steam earlier this year, features a unique battle system as mechs fight in a hybrid of turn-based and real-time combat, with decisions made on a timeline. Its combat style can take a bit of time to get used to, but its mechanics certainly stand out.
What happens is there’s a timeline on the bottom of the screen that fits a complete turn. Everything that any of the combatants do fits onto this timeline. Moving from one spot to another, setting up an attack, everything. The enemy’s decisions for the turn are mapped out first, giving players the ability to set ambushes to take out enemies before they strike.
Setting everything up can be tricky as one is naturally drawn to trying to follow the movement of every character and making pinpoint, precise actions. This does work, but takes a lot of extra time. Actions can be highlighted and place on the timeline as blocks. These action blocks can be moved back and forth to get some precision in and make it a bit easier to get everything done. This pinpoint precision isn’t needed often, as in the combat examples shown, everything was staggered enough that there were plenty of big enough gaps to slot attacks into.
Most of the focus of the demo was on fighting, with it taking place during a combat drill gone wrong. While the protagonist and his mentor are out getting used to their mechs, they are shelled by tanks that show up. Thoughts of it being a routine drill are swiftly evaporated as they are thrown into combat. Outnumbered in both fights, the demo mission demonstrates how movement, defensive positioning, and manipulating the timeline are important for survival.
Cover isn’t always easy to find, as everything on the map can be destroyed. This encourages players to make the most of timeline strategy, as standing still and waiting for the perfect shot is far too simple to be effective. Having everything on a turn-based rail system and seeing it play out like an action scene from a movie is thrilling. When pinpoint accuracy is able to be pulled off it’s awesome to see; taking down a tank as they were about to open fire is fun.
Phantom Brigade’s combat system is distinct and has enough to it for tactical RPG fans to consider checking it out. The story has the capability to be interesting, with its mech combat set against a modern suburbia backdrop. Those interested in seeing what the game’s all about can do so right, with Phantom Brigade fully available now on PC.