Indiana Jones has managed to remain one of the most iconic action heroes in movie history, even though he’s got about a 50% hit rate when it comes to decent films. But enough about the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – today we have Phantom Abyss, an unabashedly Indiana Jones-inspired roguelike game that pits you against everyone else in the world in a race through tombs filled to the brim with deadly traps.
Phantom Abyss launched today in Steam Early Access, and it’s a curious mix of genres. There’s the tomb-raiding and whip-cracking of classic Indy movies, mixed with a kind of precision trap evasion that calls to mind Super Meat Boy. But this is also a unique spin on roguelikes: each tomb you run through is procedurally generated, and each one can only ever be beaten by one person. Once someone reaches the end, that particular layout will be closed forever.
However, failed runs aren’t wasted effort, because players who follow in your doomed footsteps will be able to see your ghost’s path through the dungeon. If you fall prey to one of the many, many traps and dangers, future players will see where and how that happened. It’s almost as if the bloodstain system from Dark Souls was activated for a player’s entire run.
When you see the crowd of ghosts leaving the starting line in a Phantom Abyss level, it feels very much like the end-of-level replays in Super Meat Boy, or perhaps like the massive ghost car parades you can see in Trackmania.
If you’re the one to reach the relic deep in the heart of a dungeon, you get to keep it as a unique trophy, and the dungeon is closed forever. It’s a compelling new spin on achievements, we reckon.
In addition to player ghosts to guide your way, you also can unlock new whips and blessings from gods to help protect you on your journey. But you’ll always be facing danger – there are spikes, bottomless pits, and collapsing floors that all are conspiring to end your run early.
Developer Team WIBY says Phantom Abyss will be in Early Access for “at least a year” as features are added and community feedback is incorporated into the game. The final version, the studio says, will contain new rooms, zones, traps, whips, and more.