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Phantom Brigade's tactical robo-bashing stomps into early access

Gosh, I do like it when the giant robots fight. Phantom Brigade, a turn-based mech brawler from the folks behind Crypt Of The Necrodancer, enters early access today, bringing with it some wonderfully clever and effortlessly stylish combat puzzles to sink your giant mechanized teeth into. Should mechs have teeth? Mechs really should not have teeth.

Our Dominic Tarason first posted about Phantom Brigade back in 2018. But the game itself goes back a little further, with a revealed two years prior to developers Tetragon merging with dance-pad dungeoneers Brace Yourself Games.

On a high level, Phantom Brigade isn’t too different from Battletech. You’ve got mechs, they’ve got mechs, so why not smash ’em all together until the map is smoking with rubble? In practice, however, the game is closer to the careful planning of something like Frozen Synapse.

See, fights in Phantom Brigade are drawn out in a planning phase before taking effect. Time freezes, and you begin plotting out your next turn all at once. With your enemies’ predicted movements shown on-screen, a timeline lets you arrange the precise order of your team’s actions – sprinting around houses and timing that perfect gunshot, or lining up a shield-bearer to block incoming fire for a more vulnerable unit.

Now it wouldn’t be a mech game without fully destructible scenery, of course, with fiddly customisation for the full mecha dress-up experience. But I’m most excited by the prospect of recurring rival pilots. While it’s not clear if this yet exists in the current version of the game, a Kotaku interview from last year promised Shadow Of Mordor-style nemeses, enemy pilots who you’d come to know and loathe over the course of the campaign.

Brace Yourself plan to keep the game in early access for roughly a year, with updates pegged to arrive on the third Tuesday of every month ’til then. Phantom Brigade is out now on the Epic Games Store for £24/$30.

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Natalie Clayton

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