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  • Writer's pictureAntal Bokor

I Didn’t Find the Treasure I Hoped When I Raided Phantom Abyss


Screenshot: Phantom Abyss

I’m still undecided whether Early Access games are saving video games, or making them worse. Sometimes, however, they just lead to disappointment. Such is the case with Phantom Abyss, a game that I played in Early Access with excitement for the final product–only to be ultimately disappointed.


Phantom Abyss is a first person parkour ‘em up set to a vaguely Indiana Jones theme–though sometimes it feels more like Legends of the Hidden Temple. The goal is to maneuver through various randomly configured dungeons (they call them temples), avoiding traps, while employing your whip and dash to escape or progress. 


It’s definitely one of those games that sounds great on paper, especially with its asynchronous multiplier. See, you’re not actually playing in real-time against other players, but you see other players’ runs as phantoms. The goal is to learn from their mistakes, survive where they didn’t, and take their whips if they perish. It’s not really a race, though it does have that feel–and sometimes certain modifiers benefit from you staying ahead of phantoms.



Screenshot: Phantom Abyss

The parkour in Phantom Abyss isn’t the best. It’s not that movement feels bad, it just doesn’t feel particularly fun, either. You have dash, which is probably the most useful movement tool despite the whip being one of the marquee game features. The whip is a little too hyped up. Sure, you can use it to open chests and grapple up walls, but it’s frustratingly janky and unreliable.


At first, the dungeons were interesting; the traps I encountered were varied and exciting–until they weren’t. It only took a few hours before I felt like I was running through the same corridors just in different configurations. 


Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of danger in these dungeons. You have to survive spikes, pitfalls, things that’ll fall on your head, darts, etc. And even traps you’ve encountered before might be more dangerous if you’re forced to approach them from less than ideal directions. There are also different modifiers that can help you, but they more often give you more to watch out for–like giant poison spitting heads or laser firing orbs. There isn’t combat in Phantom Abyss, though, so all you can do is (try to) avoid getting damaged. If your health drops to zero, you lose all progress in that dungeon.



Screenshot: Phantom Abyss

There is a progression system in Phantom Abyss that lets you upgrade different abilities, which make the challenges in the game ever so slightly easier. You can even unlock different whips with their own inherent abilities that can give you an advantage or even influence your playstyle.


However, as much fun as I had parkouring around in the first few hours of Phantom Abyss, I never ended up finding the fun. Each run felt drab and even those clever traps started to see a little same-y, until I felt like I’ve seen everything–and what’s left is to see it in different configurations. 


Phantom Abyss is definitely an example of a game with a great idea that just doesn’t land. It’s too bad, because a Fall Guys -ish meets Indiana Jones -ish sounds like a great thing on paper. But even with a progression system that beckoned me to keep playing, I tapped out as soon as I discovered that I just wasn’t having any fun.


Phantom Abyss is available now for PC via Steam and on Xbox Series S|X,

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