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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Survival is the main goal. There's also a risk versus reward element, such as picking up lesser artifacts in order to safely leave a temple earlier, or choosing a nonstandard whip that comes balanced with specific benefits and disadvantages.
Positive Role Models
Players are treasure hunters whose spirit is trapped within the Abyss, a prison of ever changing temples. No personal interactions outside of occasional conversations with the deity trapped in the Abyss with you, no real character development to speak of.
Ease of Play
Basic controls are relatively simple to pick up and play (even more so with a controller), and watching where others have failed can help players avoid a similar fate. Still, there's a high degree of difficulty; players will often stumble into traps before realizing they are there.
Violence & Scariness
Players must run, jump, and slide their way through a number of different booby traps and guardians set up for each temple. They take damage, represented by the loss of health and a red pulse around the edge of the screen. No graphic depictions of blood or gore.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Phantom Abyss is a first-person adventure game available for download on Windows-based computers. Players descend into trap-laden temples, avoiding a variety of hazards and enemies while trying to recover magical artifacts that will allow them to escape. Players can also see "phantoms" of other players that have tried and failed to recover the temples' relics, learning from their mistakes. Basic controls are easy to pick up and play, though each temple is procedurally created with a steep difficulty curve. While there are many deadly traps and hazards to avoid, there's no graphic gore or blood shown on-screen.
Is It Any Good?
Have you ever wondered what you'd get if you crossed the Indiana Jones franchise with Groundhog Day, and then made a video game out of it? Probably not, but one look at Phantom Abyss will make you think someone somewhere must have. All the elements are there, from the golden idol protected by booby traps to the crack of your trusty bullwhip. Only, in this adventure, you're more likely than not to get crushed by the rolling boulder, chopped by the spinning blades, and killed by the poison arrow, starting your entire quest over again in a brand-new ancient temple. This is a lot of fun at first, especially when you zip around a corner and have that heart-stopping moment of just avoiding getting impaled by a hidden batch of floor spikes. Or when you make your way to a shrine and pick up some of the handy power-ups, like double-jump or double-range with your whip. This does a lot to make the final relic seem genuinely obtainable.
Of course, Phantom Abyss also likes to use the old magician's trick of keeping your attention focused in one place so you ignore what it's doing in another. Between following the movements of all the phantoms on the screen and timing your jumps or slides to avoid certain death, there never seems to be much time to genuinely observe the world around you. But once you start to take everything at a more methodical pace, you start to realize the significant repetition in play. Sure, each time you leave a temple, either by recovering the relic or by dying, you've got to start over with a new, procedurally generated stage. The problem is, there are only so many room configurations available for the game to build from. Eventually, you start to recognize room layouts, that feeling of déjà vu starts to sink in, and you can't help but feel like you've done just about everything the game has to offer.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.