Return of the Phantom

1993 Microprose
Designed by Raymond Benson; Gaston Leroux (original story)
Reviewed 2000 June 30

Rating -3 Linearity straight
Reasonability deductive Connectivity minimal
Difficulty easy Relevance moderate
Interface 3rd paned menu Real-time minor

You play Raoul Montand, an inspector with the Surêté in Paris. During a performance at the opera house, with you in attendance, the chandelier comes crashing down, reminiscent of the incident over a century ago involving Erik, the Phantom of the Opera. As you investigate, you find that people have seen a strange masked man in formal cape. Is it a copycat, or is it a ghost?

It's a simple little story, but enough to provide for a good game. There is an interesting and ambiguous twist at the end. However, the story is not so outstanding so as to be worth the time for it alone. Unfortunately, there's little game to back it up.

There's very little to do in this game. You mostly explore and interrogate, and as you do events are triggered and the story progresses. There's a bit to do in the latter half of the game, but there the challenges are uninspired. There's a large, hyper-twisty maze, a picture puzzle, and a coded door lock. The few situational problems are all extremely easy.

The engine is similar to LucasArts' SCUMM; it's easy to use and flexible. Too bad this flexibility wasn't used in the game. The graphics are standard VGA, with rotoscoped people. The scenes are well done, portraying the opulence of the opera house, and the dinginess in its less public corners.

The game is intentionally aimed for beginners, but I think it aims too low. There is far too little to do in the game. The lack of action prevents full immersion into the story, and with nothing to slow you down the story doesn't get the best exposure.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.
David Tanguay's Game Reviews
Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.