|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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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.