Review of "Phantom: Caverns of the killer"

Phantom: Caverns of the Killer is a Z-code 5 interactive fiction game written with Inform 6 and is © 2005 by Brandon Coker.

Review by David Welbourn

Oh dear. Where to start. Well, the spelling, punctuation, and grammar obviously need work. And although the prologue tells us about some great Egyptian warrior, you never learn anything about him, not even his name. The Egyptian part of the premise is also ignored except for a token mention of hieroglyphics on one wall. What a disappointment. Searching for an Egyptian tomb should have involved at least some of the following: a desert, an oasis, a pyramid, a hierogylphics puzzle, clay pots, scrolls, a mummy, figs, a curse, gods with animal heads, and so on. We got one of those, probably by accident.

So what did we get? The remains of a ghost town that could as easily be in Arizona or Queensland for all anyone could tell. A tower. A forest maze. A mine maze. A maze that's just a "maze". Some gem collecting. Clues that don't lead to anything. Puzzles that I solved without solving. In other words, I brute forced through the possibilites and used UNDO if I was wrong. Nothing fun, nothing clever, nothing interesting.

And none of it really holds together. There's probably some story that the author has in his head, but didn't put into the game. Where is the town? Why is it a wreck? Who owns the tower? Why is the tower so weird? Why are there generic treasures all over the place? Do they have anything to do with the Phantom?

And the ending... was unsatisfying. The game said I won, but it sure didn't look like it. Frankly, it looked like something very very bad happened. Except I don't know what happened exactly; the ending was too vague. Very very unsatisfying.

Best typo ever:

The reasonably large room seems to be aluminated, but you see no light source but your lantern.

Rating: 2

✍️🏻 See my handwritten notes.