What if Indiana Jones or Lara Croft were guided by the ghosts of all the bounty hunters who tried to get some ancient relic before them but perished in such an attempt? Well, to try to answer that question you probably never asked yourself, there's a game called Phantom Abyss, a single-player platformer that indirectly forces you to compete against your online friends. We tried it, and here's what we think about it!
Whip It! Whip It Good!
The first thing you need to know about Phantom Abyss is that it lacks a story, so the focus is on the action. Basically, you're an explorer who ends up in a cave, trapped with a talking statue that will help you escape if you help it escape. And how can you help it? Well, you must visit dozens of dungeons—though they actually feel like deathtraps—and retrieve several ancient items from them, all with the help of your trusty whip turned grappling hook. If you want to succeed, you must take Phantom Abbys as a platforming game that forces you to stop and think about your surroundings, as running blindly will sooner than later get you killed by one of the many hidden and not-so-hidden traps.
Although there are ways to visit a specific temple, the key element of this game is how you never know what to expect. Once you step into a portal, it will take you to a randomly generated temple that may or may not have been visited by other explorers. If you're the first one to visit it, you won't have a clue about what to expect from the traps, shortcuts, or the final boss. If you're not the first one to step into the temple, don't be so happy either; it could mean it's an extra tough challenge that killed everyone else and will probably kill you too if you're not careful. The best part of visiting a non-virgin temple is that you can see and follow other explorer's ghosts and get to know how to solve a puzzle or, most importantly, where and how they died. For that reason, try not to die too soon or in a stupid way, or the whole world will notice it and laugh at your ghost!
Can You Beat (and Loot) Your Friend's Ghost?
With only 3 lives per run, some levels proved to be extremely unforgiving, especially since the guardians are also randomly generated and they could be exceedingly challenging if luck's not on your side. Once you get to a new floor, a statue will let you spend all your coins on a blessing that will help you continue, giving you extra whip skills, regenerating your health, etc. Needless to say, that also depends on RNG, so it's endless fun—or torture—with Phantom Abyss! In the future, once there are no game-breaking bugs, we'll be able to follow our friends to specific temples to beat them, but we can already visit specific temples by entering a temple code. As you can tell, this single-player adventure smoothly transitions to a competitive scenario, so you'll end up fighting against your friends to see who takes the prize and who's the silly phantom that leads the others' way.
Although it's not finished and some bugs are still being fixed, Phantom Abyss is a fun platformer that will certainly put you through some stressful situations. Are you ready to try and become the best parkour artist and escape from this treacherous temple? If you are, then go get Phantom Abyss, already available on PC (Steam and Humble Bundle)!