Imagine, you've purchased a sprawling 19-century mansion on the New England coast at shockingly low price. Well, turns out that mansion was previously owned by a magician and practitioner of phantasmagoric theater. And just so happens that magician was possessed by a demon and he married and murdered a bunch of women. And just so happens that same demon escaped when you opened a shoebox you found on a demonic alter in your house. "Oops!" may be the understatement of the century.

Phantasmagoria was far from a critical darling. There actually seems to be a small cult of people who hate this game. It's not the greatest game ever made. It's overly long, objectives can be hard to grasp, and having one of seven discs almost solely dedicated to going into town to buy drain cleaner is unnecessary and hilarious.

The visuals have aged poorly. The acting and writing vacillates from underwhelming to ridiculous. Players complained about awkward character interactions and the gameplay left critics cold.

And yet I unironically love this game- faults and all.

I'm someone with a preference for the horror genre, a collection of over 3,000 b-movies and willingness to suffer through hours of astoundingly boring film- all of which combined make me the perfect Phantasmagoria enjoyer. I'm pretty much primed to enjoy Phantasmagoria for all it's bad effects and acting. I discovered this game as a 12 year-old with unmonitored internet access. I was instantly fascinated with this game. It was my gateway drug for horror films and FMV games. This game was some tasty, tasty FORMATIVE MEDIA for me.

The game's user interface will seem very familiar to fans of the HeR Interactive Nancy Drew games. UIs for adventure games aren't very diverse but there are times where Phantasmagoria looks like a biazarro version of The Curse of the Blackmoor Manor. I personally I believe that Phantasmagoria was a direct inspiration for HeR Interactive when developing the ND series.

Phantasmagoria (1995) is a point and click adventure game designed by mother of the genre Roberta Williams- for better or worse. The game features Full-Motion Video blue-screened over 3D rendered environments- surreal. The game caused significant controversy over it's violent and sexual content. Said sexual content amounts to a not even a minute long love scene with a little side boob.The violence on the other hand is a wonderful gore fest that ramps up in the mid-last part of the game.

Content Warning!

Most of the public outrage was directed at the game's infamous rape scene. But the thing is, the rape scene really isn't that bad. It's not explicit at all and is fairly short. In my opinion it's the most tastefully done scene in the whole game as it focuses more on the emotion of the scene rather than the physical assault.

That gameplay is slow and objectives are not very obvious. Gameplay is exploration based so just follow the adventure game mantra "click on anything and everything you can find". The bulk of the game has you moving Adrienne around the massive Carnovash mansion while encountering various bizarre secrets and supernatural happenings in between trips to town to deliver stilted lines of dialogue to NPCs and buy drain cleaner. If you ever find yourself at a loss as what to do or where to go you can click on that cute little skull guy on the UI for some direction. 

Things really kick up as Adrienne's husband Don is replaced by the same demon that drove Carno the magician to murder all his wives in comically ironic fashions.

The game's ending sequence consists of fast moving cut-scenes where the player must quickly click on the right part of the screen to progress (and keep Adrienne from meeting an unfortunate end). This section is probably the most difficult and annoying of the whole game so- save often.

    Phantasmagoria (1995)

Buy it here

or if you can work dosBox or ScummVM

download it here!

Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh

There was a sequel though it's pretty much in name only.There's only one reference to Adrienne from the first game to unite the two games.A Puzzle of Flesh is a different beast- it has some heavy Hellraiser vibes and.. umm aliens? It's not a very enlightened take on mental illness.But, it is goofy and has a distinct 90s flavor that I love.

But it here! or download here!

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