Phantom Brigade, When A Video Editor Is Also A Gamer

Are you a fan of XCOM? Do you like giant mechs with big freak off lasers? If you’re also interested in time management, then you should check out Phantom Brigade, a new turn-based tactics game.

The game has two modes: one where you lead a squad of mechs in battle, and the other where you manage your resources, pilots, and upgrades to liberate regions from an enemy army.

I always had a fondness for turn-based games, I’ve played several such games like XCOM, Xenonauts and Final Fantasy Tactics but Phantom Brigade is unique in several aspects.

Image from Brace Yourself Games

Firstly, its visuals are stunning, reminiscent of the mech design and animation style of Virtual On. (Does anybody remember that? Or am I a boomer?) The game’s interface is also remarkable, drawing inspiration from titles like Endless Legend, demonstrating that strategic games can have both substance and style.

Furthermore, Phantom Brigade doesn’t strictly fall under the category of your traditional turn-based tactics games. It operates on a quasi turn-based system where you have unlimited time to plan out your moves, but their execution takes place in real-time.

Phantom Brigade’s narrative revolves around a secret prototype weapon that grants you and your crew the ability to briefly peek into the future, providing a five-second foresight of your enemy’s actions and movements.

An ongoing battle with the phantom brigade and the timeline on show

Image from Brace Yourself Games

The planning stage involves lining up a series of actions on a timeline, which can be previewed using a “scrub” function before hitting the execute button to see everything play out in real-time. The process resembles that of a video editor, like literally, it’s like every video editing software timeline.

At first glance, it may seem straightforward – if you have a glimpse into the future, you can anticipate your opponent’s actions and respond accordingly. However, there’s an element of difficulty and uncertainty present in this gameplay mechanic.

Each action, whether it’s shooting, moving, or deploying a shield, is timed and takes place during an animation sequence. During that animation sequence, you and the enemy animation will take place simultaneously. There is also a heat gauge that you must manage when firing your weapons, otherwise your mech will take damage.

Phantom Brigade’s emphasis on timing makes it a constantly moving game, with little reliance on prolonged use of cover. This creates a dance-like experience rather than a typical gunfight.

Mech firing a laser gun through several buildings to hit an enemy

Image from Brace Yourself Games

I’ve already sunk several hours into this game and coming from a video-editor standpoint, it feels very natural. Watching how your turn plays out and enemy pilots ejecting from the cockpit is always a treat.

But do note, there is friendly fire! So don’t be an idiot like me and fire the big freak off laser into the back of your friendly mech.

Phantom Brigade has reached version 1.0 and is available on Steam with improved visuals and tighter gameplay.


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