As exciting as an obstacle course can be, nothing beats the real deal. Thanks to Phantom Abyss, you can traverse dangerous temple traps with no actual danger to yourself. Made by Team WIBY and published by Devolver Digital, the game tasks you with making it to the end of a temple. While often compared to multiplayer titles like Fall Guys, Phantom Abyss offers numerous twists on the genre. But can these twists navigate the title out of the dense temple of indie games? The answer is just as complex as mastering the parkour.
After completing a brief tutorial, Phantom Abyss drops you right into the races with everyone else. The movement system can be a little challenging, in particular the safety roll. More often than not, I found the cue did not match up with a safe window to execute it. There’s a whip mechanic that’s also executed somewhat poorly, the flaw seeming to lie with how it’s used conflicting with its usability. The temple courses are randomized, but certain rooms are recycled, and the whip seems to be coded to allow only certain spots to be compatible with it. This led me to expecting a certain reach from the whip that wasn’t always there. Outside of that, controls are snappy and responsive, and getting a good stride going feels good.
There are a few key bits of information the tutorial doesn’t tell you, so I recommend returning to the starting area. Chief among them is an in depth explainer into what actually goes on in Phantom Abyss. Unlike Fall Guys where you race against a crowd of other players, here their journeys are already complete. Since each temple can only be completed once, it’s up to you to learn from your opponents, or repeat their mistakes.
In addition to other adventurers, after the first leg of your journey, an angry temple guardian will place additional obstacles in your path. Occasionally, the placement would be entirely unavoidable, which feels a bit cheap. Also, if you die, you only get your loot back when upon completing the temple, including any unlocked whips or keys. All in all, while it requires a little homework to avoid confusion, I did manage to figure it all out in the first few hours.
Visually, Phantom Abyss is satisfactory. It won’t win any awards, but it will hold a good frame rate on a decent rig. The only time I experienced lag spikes was when large numbers of visual effects crowded the screen. There have been reports of disconnects, but I did not personally experience any during my five hours of playtime. Outside of that, I never noticed any other bugs or errors. All obstacles have an audio and visual cue that are easy to distinguish. With hopefully more refinement on the way, this will surely become a polished game.
Overall, Phantom Abyss shows a promising start for the fledgling title. While it may be difficult navigating the tough journey of Early Access, Team WIBY has already released multiple content updates. In its current state, the game is more than competent and enjoyable. I look forward to seeing where Phantom Abyss goes.
Early Access Score: 8 out of 10
Early Access Scores don’t represent the final score of the game, as things are subject to change. We will provide an official final score once the game launches. This score simply stands for the current experience.
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