Phantom Chronicle, An In-Depth Review

7.0 TCG RATING
Gameplay: 7/10
Sounds: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10

Collecting what you need for leveling and grading up cards is fun. | Great fantasy / sci-fi art blend.

Light on strategy, with not much gameplay variation.

Facebook (play on Mac, PC and Linux)

Free to play, with in-game purchases.

November 27,2013

English, Japanese

Phantom Chronicle is a Japanese-developed Facebook casual card game where you collect cards called Phantoms, trigger their skills during battle and select the priority of attacks against your enemies.

Phantoms are genetically engineered creatures that got way too powerful for us to handle and ran amok, destroying civilization as we know it. It’s up to you as a human with extraordinary abilities to capture, tame and control these Phantoms to reclaim the world for people once more.

Phantom Chronicle has a cool back story and world setting, but is it actually a good game? Read on to find out…

quest-combat1

A typical Quest battle against a row of enemies. Their attacks are triggered every certain number of turns, so you’ll be attempting to destroy them before they can attack you. Quests reward you for taking no damage at all so it’s an objective you have to aim to complete if you want the maximum Quest score.

Gameplay

Phantom Chronicle is a game about collecting units (called Phantoms) and fighting with them against a line up of enemies. When facing enemy Phantoms, you’ll see that they have a timer on each one stating how many rounds until they will next attack your Health Points (which is made up of a total of all of your Phantoms’ HP).

During your turn, you have a few choices. Firstly, you can trigger a basic attack, which will see all of your Phantoms individually attacking the enemies in front of you. Secondly, you can select any number of Phantoms that you want to use their special abilities this turn, activate them (costing Skill Points) and then a basic attack will occur after. Lastly, you can choose to “Charge” for a turn, which will recover some of your SP but also reduce any incoming damage by 50% for one round.

At any time during your turn, you may also click one enemy to “target” it specifically, setting it as the target for any special skills you’ll trigger, otherwise making it the first, primary target that your cards will attack and kill before turning their attacks towards any other targets. Since enemies don’t attack each turn, you’ll be prioritizing your attacks against the enemies who are going to attack the soonest in the hopes of preventing them from having a chance at attacking you. Defeating the whole team of enemies will win you the encounter.

large-card-view2

The art style is a mixture between Japanese anime and Western fantasy art styles, which comes out being very pleasing to the eye (and I don’t just mean all the pretty ladies!). Sure, there’s lots of standard half-naked women, but this are also fierce dragons, beasts and other fantastical creatures.

Most of the gameplay in Phantom Chronicle actually occurs outside of the main combat mechanic. Cards are not static, but rather dynamic units that have variable stats as they level and grade up. Grading up will significantly change their art and stats, but can only occur if you level them up to their current stage’s maximum level. You also need the requisite items that the grade-up asks for (which you’ll have to find through Quests or in the Item Exchange).

Cards have an elemental affinity of their own with strengths when used against other elements. They also have two abilities: one when active as the Leader of the deck, and one which can be triggered using SP during battle. Building an efficient team with stats and abilities that synergize well is in my opinion much more the bulk of the game than the actual battling, so if you enjoy this kind of team management style of gameplay (and I find it just a little bit addictive, myself) then you’ll love this game.

main-quest

Quests are linear, with each mission being a strand of enemy encounters or treasure chests. This is not very exciting, but it gets the job done.

Modes and Features

The single-player campaign in Phantom Chronicle is called the Main Quest, and here there are over 12 Areas to explore. Each area has 8 sub-Quests with 3 major objectives to complete, each earning you a gold medal for completing it. The Quests are all the same, being made up of a line of encounters that are either groups of enemies to fight or treasure chests to open. Some chests are locked with explosive devices that requires using SP to unlock them, with the purpose that you’ll have less SP to use in the next enemy encounter. Chests have all kinds of items in them, from Phantoms to Cores to XP programs that you can apply to your Phantoms to level them up.

Quests require Stamina, and you only have a limited amount of Stamina to use. Ranking up your player profile will increase your Stamina total which allows you to play for longer before needing to stop, but as the Stamina cost of Quests also gets higher as you advance, it seems to balance out. Ranking up does automatically refill your Stamina though, so you usually never have to wait long to play further, since ranking up is relatively quick and easy.

quest-progress

Advancing through Quests doesn’t require any input until you come across a chest, when it asks if you want to spend the SP required to unlock it. You don’t have to if you expect you’ll need the SP for a future fight.

Event Quests are also single-player, AI-driven Quests, but they’re a bit different – these consist of special events that have unique encounters, difficulty levels and rewards. These are very grindy because you’ll be earning shards of items that you can turn in for new rare Phantoms and the like. If you enjoy grinding, you’ll absolutely love this. The Egg Event is particularly enjoyable because it rewards you with mystery eggs that have rank-3 Phantoms inside which are more powerful for their rank than usual. This helps with some of the Main Quest missions that require you to complete them with lower-level and rank characters as a side objective. They also had cute Easter themed characters which were adorable and I kept doing the Event and opening the eggs because I wanted to see what else could be inside.

The only real PvP mode to speak of is Tournaments, and these are scheduled over distinct periods of time so you actually have to catch them in the right dates to participate. Once they begin, you can take part in ranked PvP matches against others with the goal of getting the most points in the allotted period of time to come out on top.

There’s also a Guild system which rewards you with Guild Points for interacting with your Guild members, such as having your best card taken with them on a Quest. You can initiate Normal Summons with Guild Points to get you new Phantom cards, but they’re not as high-ranking cards doing an Advanced Summon which costs e-crystals (the premium currency which costs money, but limited amounts can be earned in-game such as by completing Achievements).

event-quests

Event Quests change around according to time periods, so they won’t stay forever. This means they’re limited experiences so if you’re trying to collect certain cards or items from them, you have to hurry to get as many as possible before they rotate.

Deckbuilding and Strategy

In Phantom Chronicle, there are a number of aspects to deckbuilding that make this game a little bit more complicated than your usual card games. As you rank up your player profile, your deck capacity will increase in size. This is important because Phantoms have a cost to include them in your deck, and you can’t go over this capacity for the total of all of your deck cards’ costs. When cards are graded up into new types, their cost will also increase, so you have to be careful not to grade up cards too early if you don’t have the deck capacity to actually include them in your deck. You can equip Phantoms with an item that reduces their cost by 1 or 2 however, so make sure to always do this and pack the most powerful Phantoms possible into your team.

Utilizing the right card as your Leader is also crucial. Cards have extra abilities if they are your deck’s Leader, but you can only use one Leader at a time. This means you’ll have to work to find the best Leader skill that you want to have activated, while also considering the rest of your deck composition. For example, there is no point using a Leader skill that boosts all Fire Phantoms’ stats if you don’t have a decent collection of Fire Phantoms to use in the rest of the deck.

Leveling up Phantoms costs Cores, and you earn these from going through Quests. You also need to use items or other Phantoms as resources to boost the XP of the Phantom you’re leveling up. You can use higher level Phantoms to boost lower ones, but this is wasteful unless you really don’t want those Phantoms as you’ll sacrifice them in the process. It’s better to use the special Phantom cards dropped during Quests that are solely for leveling up a Phantom of that particular element, or otherwise using some of the XP program items that give a decent boost to XP.

Since cards also have elemental strengths against certain other types, be sure to build a diverse elemental deck for maximum efficiency against a rank of enemies, unless you’re specifically going for a particular strategy such as the Dark deck I’ve built (pictured below).

deck-editing

This deck is based around the Dark element, as my Leader card has an ability that helps raise the Attack and Intelligence stats of all other Dark allies. In order to gain the most from this effect, I made my deck entirely Dark-based. This is OK for questing in the single-player campaign, but runs the risk of being taken down by opposing elements in the PvP Tournament.

Final Thoughts

Phantom Chronicle is a lot better than most of the casual card battle games around. This is because there is a (slightly) greater emphasis on player interaction during combat, giving you a choice of which enemies you want to attack as well as triggering your Phantoms’ special abilities or charging and reducing damage from incoming attacks. Yes, there’s an Auto attack mode, but I found that it wasn’t as effective as taking control of the battle myself and going for the most strategic targets (such as enemies who are going to attack the soonest).

That said, the strategy here is very light, so make sure your expectation levels are adjusted to the genre, as this is a casual card battle game. This makes it perfect for people who want to waste a bit of time while on Facebook, and maybe bring in a friend or two to play as well so you can use their best cards while questing, but otherwise if you’re a real hardcore TCG / CCG player, you may find the game lacking in strategic depth and options.

Phantom Chronicle‘s most enjoyable aspects are collecting new Phantoms and leveling them up, changing them into new forms and working out the best arrangement in your deck to utilize your Phantoms’ special abilities. If you consider this more of a card-evolving game than a strategy card game, you’ll be more readily able to experience the game for what it is – a fun, casual romp through card-collecting and evolving that won’t bust your brain while playing.

For more screenshots, click here.

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by
Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.

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