By Benny Carrillo / July 28th, 2015
Phantom of the Kill is one of those games that I’ve been wanting to see come to iOS and Android for quite some time. As much as I love my precious Vita, there are times when I just don’t have access to it and still want play something with depth and complexity to it. Thankfully the people at gumi America are working to fill that gap by localizing this very interesting looking Strategy RPG, and while at Anime Expo I was fortunate enough to be given a brief tour of what this game has to offer, starting with the story.
The story revolves around a group of girls called “Killer Princesses” which are the living embodiment of the weapons they’re named after. Sadly, this means they’re doomed to fight endlessly in order to protect humanity from the various monsters and evils of the world. Despite this, they do have thoughts, feelings, and wants that you’ll get to know through completing the character quest that most Killer Princesses have. One thing of note is that the director of Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, was the Editorial Supervisor for the opening movie and if that much detail is being put into the opening, I can only hope the same amount it getting put into the plot and characters. So that’s the setting, but what about the tech behind it?
The version of the game I saw was running on a Samsung Galaxy Tap Pro 12.2 (model SM-T900 if you’re curious) and looked rather impressive. The graphics are a mix of beautifully done character art for the story sections and status screens, while 3d chibi models are used on the map screen and during combat. The game will run at 30FPS and take about 1GB of storage on your device and of course the resolution will scale to fit your device. Thankfully the game has a way for you to transfer your save data from device to device either by using a code that you enter on the new device or by using Facebook login. While the version I saw was running an Android, the game will also be available for iOS. However, one word of caution is that the game’s premium currency, Lazuli, will not transfer between Android and iOS, so if you plan on spending money in game you might want to stick to one platform or make sure to spend all your Lazuli before porting your save. One last note, the game does feature a one-handed control mode for ease of use on the phone, however I did not see that due to the fact my experience was on a tablet. Next, let’s take a look at gameplay.
In regards to gameplay the overall feel of things will be quite familiar if you’ve ever played a Turn Based Strategy game such as Fire Emblem or Advance Wars. The game will feature more than 60 different characters who in turn will have different versions of them. This is actually reflected in the character artwork in so much as while one version of a character who is armed with a heavy shield will take more of a defensive posture, another version of the character armed with say a battle axe will have more aggressive looking character art. This is done in a part to help players get a feel for what different versions of the same character are more adept at. Speaking of weapons there is are a few elements that the game borrows from Fire Emblem.
The weapon types follow a rock-paper-scissors style of weaknesses. In fact it’s the same weapon triangle as Fire Emblem in that swords beat axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords. That is just three of the six weapon types that are in the game, however. The other three are bows, magic guns, and magic staffs. These however, do not have any special relationship. Characters also have weapon proficiencies. So the more a character uses a weapon type, the more skilled they become with it. This becomes important in regards to better weapons. For example a unit with an E in swords can only equip a 1-star sword, while a unit with an A can equip a 5-star sword. This means training a particular unit in order to max it out is a pretty good idea. Your unit level is not the only level you need to worry about however, you as the player also have a level that can be increased.
As you play through maps you gain EXP not only for your units but for yourself, and as your level increases you acquire two very important point gains. The first is to your party cost and the second to AP. Every unit has a cost associated with it, the rarer the unit the more it costs. Thankfully leveling up a unit does not increase its cost so there’s no penalty for picking a unit with weaker base stats and training them up. AP meanwhile is associated with the types of quests you can go on, so leveling will allow you to unlock more difficult missions in addition to fielding a larger party of units. Though there’s another very good reason to use a larger group of characters and that’s support buffs.
Your characters will gain buffs depending on their relationship with adjacent units. If those characters are friendly to each other, then you can gain some support bonuses as you head into battle. Because of this it’ll be very important to arrange your forces in a way that you’re maximizing your bonuses. This becomes doubly important in regards to magic. There is no MP in this game, as such magic is cast from Hit Points. If you recall there are two different types of magic weapon types, staffs and guns. Staff units can spend some HP to heal an ally or to attack an enemy with a spell. However, if you manage to hit an enemy with a spell you’ll regain a portion of your HP which may be enough to allow you to soak up a hit. Gun units though can only attack and do not regain HP after a successful hit. The tradeoff though is that these attacks are very strong and if used properly can help turn the tide of a battle. Still, this doesn’t bode well for your magic users unless you’ve got them covered using other units. So thinking a few moves ahead, as always, is key. Thankfully though you won’t find any marathon maps here during the storyline.
The basic story missions are designed to be cleared in under 30 min per map, which also means if you’re on the go you should be able to enjoy this as a quick lunch break game. If you’re looking for more of a challenge there are longer maps available outside of the storyline that are optional. As for the length of said story, the folks at gumi were unable to give me an estimate on how long the overall campaign will take due to it still being written, but the first chapter takes about four hours to complete in the Japanese version. So after seeing all this, what’s my take?
Personally I’m very intrigued by this idea. I love Turn Based Strategy games and this seems like something that’s right in my wheelhouse. While I’m more of a handheld and console person, I can imagine myself playing a few maps before bed as my iPad is usually within arm’s reach at that point while my Vita or 3DS is on the charger. Also, the story does pique my interest quite a bit, which for me is always a key point of any game. Who are these girls and how do they cope with their destiny? These are just a few of the questions I hope to see answered. While I doubt I’ll be shelving my handhelds anytime soon, this might actually make me consider taking a closer look at mobile games.
androidgumi AmericaiosmobileOperation RainfalloprainfallPhantom of the KillRPGTBSturn-based strategy