Title: Phantom Rose
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Reviewed On: iOS
Publisher: Studio Maka
Genre: Roguelike Card Game
Before playing Phantom Rose, I wouldn’t consider myself to be big on roguelikes. After coming across it on the Appstore, the aesthetic of the game interested me more than the roguelike elements. It turned out that the game was developed by an artist on Twitter who goes by makaroll410, and so the credit of getting me interested in the roguelikes go to them.
In Phantom Rose, you play as a maid named Reina, who wakes up in a mansion that she works at. However, things have taken a turn for the worse as monsters and demons are found roaming around. So, you set off on a procedurally generated adventure throughout the mansion looking for your lost master, which requires you to fight off creatures, look for loot, and save other staff members. There’s no real set up, but the premise works for what this game offers. It was actually nice to play a game that didn’t overwhelm me with world-building when it didn’t need it.
Like most roguelike titles, you’ll find yourself fighting through procedurally generated rooms, which you may die in a few times. This death element is perhaps my biggest issue with the roguelike genre and its prominent feature of it.
In Phantom Rose, you lose almost everything after death. However, depending on your progress, you do get to keep currency that can be used to upgrade Reina to make runs easier. It ends up not being as taxing on the player as other titles since few good runs will provide you with enough currency to live through most of what the game throws at you. I appreciated this approach because it wasn’t ever mentally draining, and while challenging at times, I never felt like I wasn’t getting somewhere.
During gameplay, you’ll navigate Reina through different sections of the mansion, where you take on enemies and hopefully save Maids that are about to die. Each event is dependent on where you enter the mansion, which changes each time, so choosing the same path doesn’t really help you.
When you encounter an enemy, Phantom Rose turns into a card game that comes in a few different types such as, attack, heal, and shields. On the field are four spots to place cards. Your opponent will randomly place two of their cards first anywhere on the four spots. You’ll then have the chance to place your own, but this also requires some strategy.
For example, you may want to consider using a card that guarantees double damage only if it’s played in the first spot. Each card is on a cooldown timer too, so if it’s still on cooldown at the end of a fight, it’ll carry over into your next battle until it’s ready to use again.
It’s essential to understand the cards you have available in relation to what the enemy has played. After each fight, you get the opportunity to get a new card. Furthermore, after each level, you’ll be able to heal up and purchase some upgrades for your current cards before continuing the journey. You’ll also get an opportunity to heal up halfway through each level as well at the cost of some gems.
Upgrades are essential because enemies can get pretty tough. Cards also need to be kept organize as your hand has a limit, but luckily, discarding gives you gems, so it’s not a total loss. Each playthrough, I found myself getting further, which kept me invested. The gameplay never felt like a chore, even with the roguelike elements and card system. Thankfully, there are different difficulty settings for those who want a challenge or a more relaxed experience.
Phantom Rose may be eye-catching in its visuals, but the gameplay itself is a bit too straight forward for its own good. The card system isn’t groundbreaking, and the extra content makes the entire experience feel like it’s missing something.
After some time playing, you’ll be able to use the same strategy over and over against enemies, which creates a repetitive experience overall. This worked a little for me since I typically suck at roguelikes, but hardcore fans will definitely be turned off by the minimal offerings.
Phantom Rose was able to get me interested in roguelikes, but after a lengthy play session, you’ll see everything the game has to offer rather quickly. Still, its design holds up, and its card battle system makes for a unique gameplay experience that you may wish evolved more in the later portions.
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