|Publisher||Rocket Panda Gamees|
|Platforms||PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||March 15th, 2022|
I’m not going to lie; I was a little confused when I first got my hands on Phantom Breaker: Omnia. I had assumed it was a sequel to the release on Xbox 360 and PS3. Then, I realized that Omnia is also yet another re-release. However, with the popularity of games in the anime fighting genre such as UnderNight and Melty Blood, it feels like the right time for this series to make a comeback. With a focus on an accessible fighting game, the original Phantom Breaker was ahead of its time as well. By today’s standards, the game shows its age, but its characters and mechanics brought an entertaining experience—just what I needed after being disappointed with King of Fighters XV.
Spiritual Content: The game’s story depicts a cosmic being granting people magical weapons to do battle to fuel the restoration of his power. Those weapons also give them a variety of magical abilities. One of the playable characters is an undead man accompanying a young girl.
Violence: Characters face off against one another in one on one combat. They use a variety of weapons such as swords, hammers, and knives. Characters do not bleed in battle, but one of them wears bloodstained bandages. The player’s objective is to deplete their opponent’s health.
Sexual Content: Still images in the gallery depict young girls in revealing lingerie and bathing suits. Some characters have been animated with jiggle physics. Some camera angles focus on these characters’ breasts up close as well.
Language: The words “b**ch” and “b****rd” are included in the dialogue.
The story of Phantom Breaker: Omnia takes place in a contemporary setting. A mysterious being named Phantom brings a handful of people from Tokyo together to duel one another, granting them weapons that give them special abilities in battle. These fighters don’t know that by dueling, they are fueling Phantom’s power to bring destruction to the world. Players experience the events through the story mode, bringing some visual novel-style flavor between each fight the player participates in. Aside from the NetherRealm Studios games, this is the most story I’ve gotten out of a fighting game in a long time. I wondered why this game has yet to be adapted into an anime, much like the last few Persona games have been.
Unlike other video games that I will no longer name, Phantom Breaker: Omnia brings much gameplay variety for players to engage with to their heart’s desire. The story mode that I mentioned lets players choose a character and experience the story through that particular point of view. On the side, we have the usual time attack and survival modes and a separate arcade mode. The arcade mode lacks what the story mode offers, but it tested my mettle much more. A gallery mode is also included, which features stills from the story and other art that players can view at their leisure. At last, and sadly maybe the least, is the online mode.
A few days after launch, I waited to write this review to jump online alongside the community. Sadly, I’ve struggled to find a match and only participated in a few battles. Unfortunately, Phantom Breaker: Omnia lacks rollback netcode. Options come very limited to roomed “Player” matches and “Ranked,” the latter of which queues you up with random opponents. I’m sad to report that my experience felt sluggish compared to playing single player. I was hoping that this game would get some time in the limelight because I greatly enjoy everything else about it. However, fighting games live and die by how well the online features get handled, and the devs have said they couldn’t make many improvements here.
The game has a roster of twenty characters from Phantom Breaker‘s initial release, Phantom Breaker: Extra, with two of them new in Omnia and one of them a guest from Stein’s Gate. As I took a look at the roster, I noticed many of the characters are your typical anime stereotypes. With 85-90% of them being female and maybe 3-4 male characters, you could easily fit it into the magical girl anime genre. My main fighter turned out to be Itsuki, who fights with a hammer while wearing her maid cafe uniform. Her backstory is that she comes from a wealthy family and works at such a cafe after they fell on hard times due to an economic crisis. All the duelists have wishes and desires that Phantom claims he’ll grant, which gives them exciting motivations for being involved in the events. I would’ve never gotten invested in these characters had I not played the story.
What helps make Phantom Breaker as a series unique are the systems within a match. First, the game utilizes a four-button layout with one for special attacks and then light, medium, and heavy attacks. You can choose between three styles when selecting a character—Quick, Hard, and Omnia. Quick feels like the standard, letting players pull off quick combos and super moves. Hard is much slower but helps deal more damage and offers greater defense. Then, Omnia seems like a blend of the two for more experienced players to test their skills. The core mechanic that makes the game stand out is the Tension gauge that fills as players clash with one another. When that tension meter fills, damage increases, and special meters fill to 100%. Clashing weapons with your opponent makes for some action-packed fights as you aim to make the next blow that could seal the victory.
At first glance, Phantom Breaker: Omnia‘s presentation doesn’t stand out much. However, certain elements shouldn’t go unnoticed. The character designs are relatively simple compared to other fighting games such as Guilty Gear, but the hand-drawn sprites are of the highest quality. The area in which the game shows its age a little are the backgrounds, which happen to be 3-D—i.e., Marvel vs. Capcom 2—but they look good in motion. Lastly, the soundtrack is another piece that may seem stereotypical to the genre, but I got lost in the music with each fight. Since it was reworked for this particular release, you can choose to use the original if you wish to do so. I was super excited by the intro song featuring AmaLee, who is known for covering a vast swath of anime songs.
It may take a minute to pick Phantom Breaker: Omnia out of a crowd, but it’s a game that will speak for itself when you turn it on. The gameplay is exhilaratingly fun, and the overall quality of the visuals and soundtrack hold up even ten years after the initial release. Sadly, the online features and audience aren’t there for me to spend the time I wish I could with this game. Anime and fighting game fans alike would find so much to enjoy about Omnia if they knew about it, but it seems like this re-release will fly under the radar. I’m glad that I discovered the game thanks to a press release, and I thank MAGES and Rocket Panda for making another attempt to bring this game to the surface.
Review copy kindly provided by Strangely Compelling PR
The Bottom Line
Phantom Breaker: Omnia has the looks and the mechanics that make it fit right in with the modern resurgence of anime fighting games.