|Note that the bottom pair of screenshots are the only screenshots in this review to depict the entire user interface along with the viewing screen. This interface appears on screen at all times while playing the game except while using the opening menu and watching the Game Introduction.|
In Phantasmagoria, you control the actions of Adrienne Delaney, a successful mystery novelist who, together with her husband, Don Gordon, a photographer, recently purchased and moved into a huge Gothic nineteenth century mansion situated on a small island somewhere along the Massachusetts coastline of north eastern United States. Everything is seen from the third person perspective and gameplay is essentially a point, click, and drag affair with the left mouse button. By slowly moving the gold cross shaped cursor around the screen, the player will discover it changes colour to red when it passes over something or someone of interest. At other times, it changes its shape to an arrow to indicate that Adrienne may move in the direction to which it is pointing. Cursor changes provide the player with the opportunity to click the mouse button and see what happens. For example, Adrienne might walk somewhere, talk to someone, or pick up an object. Actually using an inventory item is as simple as dragging it from one of the eight slots allotted for these objects at the bottom of the screen over to a currently displayed game location where it might be used. If the intended action is allowable, that inventory item will be highlighted in red and the player may then click the mouse button to let it occur. This may be done even in the middle of a few of the movie scenes. Unlike many adventure genre games, however, the player has no control over the protagonist's dialogue with other game characters. Obviously, Phantasmagoria does not provide an intensive degree of gameplay by most standards, but it is more involved than in The Seventh Guest and Myst.
As in Under a Killing Moon, the player may enter the game at the beginning of any of the seven chapters and be automatically equipped with all items and situations vital for continued gameplay. This is particularly useful if you reluctantly or accidentally delete some of your saved games (an unreasonable maximum of ten are allowed), or have a favourite scene you would like to review and therefore access quickly. Note that saving the current game under a different name is impossible. Saving the game may be accomplished at almost any point and each save file takes up only a few bytes on your hard drive.
Those gamers looking for some degree of novelty will be pleased to note that examination of acquired objects requires dragging them one by one over an animated "eye" at the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Items are subsequently magnified in a pop-up window where they may be manipulated and viewed in minute detail. Players who are unsure of what to do next may click on the skull icon at the bottom left hand corner of the screen - the "Official Hintkeeper" - who will voice a hint relevant to the current situation. Furthermore, the majority of chapter seven involves the twenty to thirty-five minute ending to the game filled with cinematic cut-scenes during which the player, far from being placed in the traditional role of a passive observer, may influence and actually interact with it to an extent previously unseen in cd-rom gaming (except perhaps the shorter climax to Full Throttle that only involved cartoon like characters with which it is harder to empathise). As a welcome added bonus, players can review their performances later by simply replaying what they have accomplished as a continuous, this time totally non-interactive, movie!
Title - Introduction - Plot Synopsis - Sound and Visual Effects - Main Characters - Censorship Issues - Miscellanea
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© Anthony Larme 1998