Have you ever wondered if you, an ordinary person, could survive a night in a haunted mansion? Many of all ages, have always thought they could manage to survive one spooky night, but now is your chance to prove it! Introducing Phantom Halls, an action adventure game both published and developed by the independent studio Incendium. Having released to Steam Early Access on March 13, 2017, Phantom Halls pits players against some of their worst fears while urging them to complete character-specific quests. Though the game is in Early Access, leaving much work to be done, let’s break down how Incendium’s Phantom Halls plays for its current $6.99 price tag.
Boasting a “3D papercraft visual motif,” Phantom Halls has an exceptionally unique overall look. The graphics are somewhat polygonal, reminiscent of games from the early PlayStation and Nintendo 64 era. Though the art style is somewhat off beat, the game still looks very good, nailing the deliberate attempt to feel like a game from the late 1990s.
For a game that is being advertised as an “action adventure game,” as of now, Phantom Halls is lacking in both. Currently having the selection from a total of six characters, each offering a single quest (with one exception) in the same mansion, doesn’t represent much of an adventure. Even the quests that are included come off pretty dry. Simply fully clear both left and right on each floor, and by the time you’ve reached the top, you are done! Now enjoy the walk back through the already cleared rooms to the entrance, to “escape” the mansion.
This creates a very monotonous feel to the game, if you have done one character’s quest, then you have basically done them all. The saving grace is the somewhat humorous banter that goes on between characters as they rifle around in the mansion’s many searchable objects. Keep in mind that Phantom Halls is still in Early Access, and there are plans in motion to spice up the adventure. However, as the game stands now, it will require a lot of work to keep players wanting to spelunk around in the mansion.
Being a fan of side-scrolling action, I was incredibly excited to sprint through a haunted mansion, jumping, ducking, and dodging dangerous traps, all while gunning down any undead creepy crawly unfortunate enough to get in my way. Very quickly, it became apparent that Phantom Halls wasn’t the action game that was expected. The moment you begin your quest into the mansion you are confronted with you first challenging obstacle, learning the clunky, uncomfortable controls. Although difficult at first, eventually you become accustomed to the control scheme and venture off into the mansion.
Now coming face to face with your first frightening monster of the darkness, you prepare for epic combat, only to realize there simply is none. Being limited to only slow left and right movement along with one clunky attack (three once you have rescued some friends), doesn’t quite add up to an action packed experience. I mean you can’t even jump. In fact, during your time in the mansion, you are likely to spend more time rummaging through bookshelves, drawers, and oddly armed clocks than murdering creepy crawlies. The largest threat in the entire game, as of now, are predictable falling chandeliers. Keep an eye on the lights, but otherwise, there really isn’t much of a threat lurking around in the darkness.
Now, that sounds like a lot of bad stuff, but keep in mind Phantom Halls just released into Early Access. This means there is still a ton of work left to be done to the game! If Incendium keeps true to their promises to add depth to the quests, and finds unique ways to get player’s hearts racing, there could be a chance at redemption. For now, I recommend that fans of side-scroller action-adventure games wait for further development before purchase, avoiding distaste for the game before it comes to true form. Good news, Incendium is still very actively developing, and there is definitely potential hiding deep within Phantom Halls. Hopefully, Incendium finds a way to unlock that potential and create something that is a lot of fun!
For a look into some plans to come, check out the official Phantom Halls trailer below.
Keep and eye on the status of Phantom Halls, or purchase it for $6.99 and give it a try for yourself on their Steam store page. Watch out for questionable chandeliers, and good luck in the mansion!
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