Review: Phantom Fury Brings Shelly Harrison to the Fifth Generation

Ion Fury was a surprise when it was released: a NEW game made entirely in the Build engine? Sure, it was a modified version of that engine, but that’s still impressive. Now, it looks like Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison–the protagonist from Ion Fury–has made it to the fifth generation of video game consoles with Phantom Fury

Screenshot: Phantom Fury

Phantom Fury is a first person retro shooter–or “boomer shooter” as they’re more widely known. While it looks like it’s made with the Quake engine, developer Slipgate Ironworks opted to go for Unreal Engine 4 instead, and made it up to look like a modified Quake engine. Not as impressive as using an ancient engine to make a new game, but the results are probably better this way. You once again take control of Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison (I don’t think anyone calls her Bombshell) as she wreaks havoc across multiple levels, this time fighting the GDF as she chases down a macguffin that shares a name (and nothing else) with a real world object:The Demon Core.

Harrison is a badass (obviously) and this time around she has a few new tools at her disposal. One of the main ones is her new robot arm. This arm enables Shelly to punch objects apart and pummel people into gibs. It also gives her a snazzy shield you can use to deflect projectiles–something that comes in handy when you’re surrounded by enemies, a situation you’ll find yourself in quite often. You can choose new abilities at special kiosks, where you can also upgrade your Ion Suit (once you acquire it) and your weapons.

Screenshot: Phantom Fury

There is an entire arsenal at your disposal in Phantom Fury. The usual suspects for any boomer shooter are here: shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle analogue (Ion Crossbow in this case), etc. And while there are a few wackier weapons thrown in (as is old shooter tradition) none of the weapons really stand out. Sure, they’re fun enough to shoot, but nothing feels very powerful, making the gunplay feel a bit flat at times. Which is a bummer, because that’s one of the game’s main attractions. Even as enemies were flying past in gibs, Phantom Fury felt like it lacked impactful combat.

The level design in Phantom Fury is a mixed bag. Most of my gameplay time was spent trying to find where to go next. The game is a pixel hunt in the worst definition, with important objects hidden away unless you're scouring every inch of every room.The signposting is done horribly, as I was lost most of the time I played. Which is too bad, because there are some truly creative levels. Insead of being a straight corridor shooter, Phantom Fury throws a few puzzles at you here and there. One of my favorite levels was also one of the most frustrating for me. It requires you to power sections of a facility while turning the power off in others to find a way forward. It’s very clever, but I often found myself in long stretches of frustrating searches instead of running around and gibbing bad guys.

The enemy variety in Phantom Fury is decent. There are soldiers with guns that shoot at you, with a few different varieties: some have shotguns, others will try to freeze you with a cryo gun, etc. The AI is also pretty aggressive, as enemies will actively try to flank you and get behind you. There are also small flying enemies, zombie-like enemies, etc. 

Screenshot: Phantom Fury

I enjoyed playing through Phantom Fury–it’s a capable shooter that is a great throwback to the fifth generation (ish) of video games. It has a great variety of enemies, interesting and varied levels, lots of guns and fun upgrades to work towards. I just wish weapons felt a little bit more powerful, and that levels had better signposting so you can find where you have to go next, and get back in the action sooner rather than running around looking for a tiny key you might have missed. Still, if you liked Ion Fury and enjoy boomer shooters, Phantom Fury is highly recommended.

Phantom Fury is out tomorrow for PC via Steam.

A Steam key was provided for this review

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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.