Phantom Abyss Early Access — Is it worth it?

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Running through ancient temples while avoiding traps and using a whip is a very attractive concept. I guess we could point out the Indiana Jones films for the inspiration of this attraction. Phantom Abyss is a rogue-lite that revolves around this idea, and it enters Early Access, bringing with it some very satisfying gameplay.

Phantom Abyss casts you like some kind of ghost that’s trapped in ruins. After going through part of the location, you come across a whip that lets you tackle almost anything. Afterward, you come across a huge statue that informs you that you are stuck and that you will have to get your hands on some relics to free yourself. Obviously, getting them is easier said than done. You will die greatly in your efforts to accomplish this task.

Each race begins by grabbing your whip and heading for a portal to a temple. Each of them can only be attempted once. If you die on your way to the Relic, you cannot try it again. It doesn’t really matter since Phantom Abyss is a thug-lite, so it’s really no different from the others in that regard. But what is different is that you can see the ghosts of everyone who died in this temple. You can follow them until they disappear if you wish. It’s a cool feature that makes you feel like you’re a small part of something big.

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Meet your misfortune

Phantom Abyss is played in the first person and is purely a matter of parkour. As you make your way through the temples, you’ll avoid spikes, rotating blades, falling floors, and more. Each temple also has a special trap that activates, with lower floors containing even more dangerous traps. For example, a special trap spawns a large creature that starts following you, which means you can’t stop moving forward. The deeper we go, the faster it goes. Another spawns an enemy that drops gas bombs above you.

The game is going quite well, as the controls are responsive and you can use the whip to bypass the traps as you see fit. However, there is a weird view wobble when spinning that cannot be cut, and hopefully this will be fixed. You can also slide or roll on landing to avoid taking fall damage. Exploration will lead to finding chests full of coins. The currency is used to purchase blessings, which are either a simple heart recharge or a boon. I must say, however, I really don’t like it, you can only take three hits by default. If you make a single mistake early on, you might as well give up and start another race again. It is not too difficult to heal a heart or two, but there is very little room for error.

Speaking of which, some of the pitfalls are uncertain. The most important are the openings in the ground that cause you to fall on spikes. It can be difficult to use the whip to get out of it, meaning you’ll almost certainly take two or three hits if you fall into it. I do not think that Phantom Abyss honestly must have a ‘make a mistake and you basically lose’ trap, so I wish it was different. Either way, the game is already enjoyable, although you start to notice the same parts quite quickly. I would still say that Phantom Abyss worth it in Early Access, and should get even better as development progresses.

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