Adrienne Delaney, expertly portrayed by actress Victoria Morsell, is the most prominent figure in Phantasmagoria, being both the protagonist and the player's alter ego. As such, her personality, attitudes, and mannerisms are open to close scrutiny. Cursory character assessments published elsewhere assert everything from angrily accusing Adrienne of stupidity and submissiveness to stating that she is such a strong character that it is impossible not to like her! Personally, I found Adrienne to be the most well-defined and appealing character I have played in a computer game and tend to agree with the latter character assessment with few qualifications for reasons explained below.
Above all Adrienne's complex personality traits stands curiosity. She has a desire to gain knowledge through dedicated exploration and the questioning of other people. Without this motivation, Phantasmagoria would be nothing but a plotless dreary, repetitive plod through an old house. Adrienne would never have attempted to rid Don of his possessed state by finding out about and banishing the demon she had unwittingly released.
Also important to her is the ideal of the permanent loving partnership of marriage. Realising that such a relationship takes the commitment of both parties, Adrienne initially believes she may have been the one to have done something wrong when Don's attitude towards her changes at the commencement of chapter two. Even when this belief is later discarded as her husband treats her with undeserved escalating hatred and contempt, Adrienne apparently forgives him and frequently tries to convince Don to listen to reason and revert to his former good nature. It is clear that Adrienne genuinely loves and trusts Don, and would do just about anything to help him return to normal short of sacrificing her own life.
Adrienne is a person who speaks her mind and is willing to stand up to anyone who offends her sensibilities. In other words, she is certainly not someone who is easily pushed around. As evidence, witness her defiant responses to Don's accusations and demands from the end of chapter three to chapter six. See also her angry reactions to the somewhat licentious real estate man during and after her rare visits to his office.
Of course, as can be expected from the player characters of all computer games, Adrienne possesses certain commendable heroic qualities in addition to those listed above without which it would be harder to gain the respect of most gamers. What stands out most is her ever increasing determination to do what needs to be done in the face of considerable adversity. Adrienne's decision to remain in the house in chapter seven and try to rescue the seemingly irredeemable Don after initially packing her belongings in a moment of weakness in preparation to leave is proof of this quality. Even after the demon finally reveals itself in its true form, Adrienne does not blindly panic and can still think and act intelligently. Thus, she is able to vanquish a hideous evil where all others before her had fallen.
Yes, Adrienne is the victim of physical violence on a few occasions as a consequence of her character traits, but she never lets herself be permanently degraded or demoralised by these experiences which only seem to enliven her positive attributes. Rejecting violence except in desperate cases of self-defence, Adrienne is able to solve most of her problems without bloodshed.
Unlike the average computer game hero, Adrienne is shown to be very human, displaying ordinary emotions and undertaking normal everyday actions unrelated to the central plotline. Her highly appropriate and understandable emotional reactions provide each key romantic, argumentative, horror, and violence scene with depth and authenticity, particularly in the introductions to chapters one and two, the murder of Carno's wives sequences, and the highly suspenseful conclusion to chapter seven. For examples of realistic everyday actions, the player can have Adrienne take a bite to eat from the fridge, get a drink at the kitchen sink, put on makeup and hand lotion, brush her hair, and even go to the toilet after first closing the bathroom door on the player to ensure privacy!
Minor aspects of Adrienne's personality not discussed thus far which add further character depth are numerous. For example, at first she rejects the concept of the supernatural and shows her scepticism quite plainly in response to the well meaning intentions of Harriet, but soon finds it to be all too real. Adrienne is also an animal lover who keeps a pet cat named Spazz, displays friendly reactions to dogs, and is not afraid of rats.
In conclusion, Adrienne Delaney is a strong, commendable, well-developed character that almost anyone should feel proud to play in a computer game such as Phantasmagoria. Her regrettable absence in Phantasmagoria 2 is lamented by many Phantasmagoria fans, particularly myself.
Title - Introduction - Gameplay - Plot Synopsis - Sound and Visual Effects - Main Characters - Censorship Issues - Miscellanea
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© Anthony Larme 1998