How It Begins:
A screaming lady with long blonde hair is in a scary place that involves her being strapped into a torture chair. But that's not all; it's so scary that the camera flings itself around like a stunned wasp, and actual tons of fake limbs hang around from everything. She wakes up in bed with her husband, a man with a ponytail normally reserved for the sweatiest men from Porn Valley, California. BUT ACTUALLY SHE'S STILL DREAMING AND IS IN AN IRON MAIDEN. Then, she wakes up again. She kisses the porny bloke, who is blatantly evil.
How It Works:
After a breakfast scene in which there's much lumbering conversation that makes you want cave your own skull in with your sub-woofer, it's established that the newly-weds have just moved into a gigantic scary mansion apparently once owned by a nefarious magician called Carlo someone. Rather than ring up to check who her gas supplier is, the lady's first instinct is to wander round in front of a bluescreen, making stilted movements and looking at dull paintings in the worst attempt at point-and-click mankind has ever conceived.
Sex and violence is certainly lacking in the early bits of the game. Jumping ahead through the discs reveals my version has the controversial 'rape' scene edited out. However, if it's like the rest of the game then it's probably the ponytailed porn man mugging the line, "I may be dressed as an evil clown, but you are my wife and you WILL have sex with me!, followed by a clumsy cut to the blonde woman trying to do an impression of Jack Nicholson's wife in The Shining. When I played the ending through and buggered it up the lady got her head cleaved in two by a swinging scythe, which was both grim and strangely satisfying.
Actorshave Also Appeared In:
Ponytail man starred in Witchcraft II: The Temptress, while screamy lady once had a (I think, noil-naked) role in Channel 5's once-famed late-night wankathon Hotline. Brilliantly the twosome fell in love on set, and could well be trading stilted sexual innuendo and vague platitudes to this very day.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
So begins Phantasmagoria - or so it'd begin if I wrote the script. It's a true testament to modern video compression that Phantasmagoria's tiny, interlaced video window and twee blue-screening of the characters onto still backgrounds, that this game takes up 1.6GB. That's 2.5 DVD rips. It's more than an hi-def movie. It's... Phantasmagoria.
In essence, this is a halfway house between point-and-click adventures and the cursed genre of the interactive movie. What this means in terms of playing the game, is you get to control a digitised real lady, by clicking one of the few points on the screen that turn your cursor red. She will K then follow one of the limited I animations open to her, before shuffling around for a couple of seconds, and returning to her idle static animation. It'd be a bit I more convincing if she scratched her arse once in a while, but once she's guided herself into that idle position, there's nothing but a bristling of the white pixels that come from low-budget Chroma key. Anyway, the storyline? Well, you've just moved into a house. Needless to say, it's a spooky old house that used to be owned by an illusionist of questionable sanity, and behind the dining room fireplace there's a box of evil.
The evil flies around the house, landing in your husband, which finally causes him to grow a set of balls and chew you out for being a weird, still-standing hair-flicking woman who's just knocked a massive hole in their dining room wall for no other reason than she needs a hobby.
Of course, it's not all roses and dandelions being married to the incarnation of evil - he locks himself away in that darkroom, and ruins a perfectly nice picnic by being extremely snippy. So Adrienne takes refuge in her investigations in the nearby town of Nipawomsett (most likely named after the brown nipple and womb set that make up the gynaecological special edition of Monopoly). And oh, the rich tapestry of characters and puzzles you'll find there! An angry dog requires a bone, point-and-click fans - but where do you get a bone from? Well, explore the grocery store, and you'll find a barrel. And what's in the barrel? Free soup bones! How do you know they're free soup bones? There's a sign, saying 'free soup bones'!
To be completely fair on the game and its author, and to avoid being an utterly snide prick, Phantasmagoria is a surprising amount of fun, even if you do have to resort to irony far too often. And the story itself would probably make a decent film, once the (perhaps deliberately) twee introduction subsides into the murders and sexual assault of the later parts of the game.
Put on your most forgiving trousers, download a walkthrough, and plod through Phantasmagoria. It's a little bit of tepid history.