1995 Sierra On-Line
Designed by Roberta Williams
Reviewed 1996 May 1

Rating -5 Linearity straight
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity moderate
Difficulty easy Relevance strong
Interface 3rd paned simple Real-time minor

You and your husband have just moved into an old mansion. It's haunted, and strange things happen. You must cope with it, deal with it, or escape.

Phantasmagoria is a tedious game. There is little direction to what you should be doing, so you are left to just wander about the house, looking for things that have changed since the last time you were there. Things you couldn't touch on previous visits may now be active, and different things might happen when you use things. There are few puzzles. Play largely consists of wandering around the house looking for the active item (person, etc.), then wandering some more looking for the next active item, and so on.

The story is a stock horror script: evil creeps up on our heroine, and she first denies it, then flees, then waves the magic wand to defeat it. The story advances at the beginning and ending of the chapters, and occassionally during actual play. It's too common to be scary, unless you've seen only few horror movies.

The last chapter (of seven) is a bit different. You are chased through the mansion, and are given a short time to decide what to do next. It's not a test of dexterity, but, unfortunately, it's not a test of wits, either. Your pursuer can arbitrarily ambush you, and potential weapons have arbitrarily effect. You're left to try something, and if it fails you try something else. The game device is okay, it's just poorly used here.

On the positive side, everything stays within the story. There are no contrived puzzles. It's also very pretty. The only visual drawback is that the characters (filmed) are not aliased with the backgrounds, which makes them stick out awkwardly -- it is similar to bad blue-screening.

David Tanguay's Game Reviews
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