Phantasmagoria (CD-ROM)

on August 01, 1995 by Ann Kwinn
Call it 45 gigabytes of gore: The seven CDs that comprise "Phantasmagoria" are numbered in blood (red silkscreen). As this program runs, one expects to see someone get stuck in the mouth with a trowel; that is, after all, what was promised. Instead, all is locked doors in a beautifully rendered haunted house.
   Game players manipulate a photo-realistic and well-endowed character, Adrienne, who with her husband has moved into an island mansion originally built, the hint book says, by a demented magician. The first two introductory videos are enjoyable but, even with the hint book and onscreen Official Hintkeeper, users might find themselves wandering with their cursor looking for action.
   The intention of the game design is to reach a broader audience than more complicated games. "Phantasmagoria" is broken into seven chapters and the interface is simple but, after an excellent intro reminiscent of a Disneyland ride, with scary things flying past in the dark while a medieval choir sings, the excitement is too slow in coming. One unique aspect is that players can choose between adult- and teenage-suitable versions; password protection allows parents to lockout children from the former. The game's two years of development and $4 million budget are high figures in this business, and the effort has yielded great art direction and two hours of half-screen video of 11 characters. Maybe Sierra should have made a movie instead.    Starring Victoria Morsell and David Homb. Directed by Peter Maris. Written by Roberta Williams. Produced by Mark Seiber, J. Mark Hood and Roberta Williams. A Sierra release. Rated M for mature.
Tags: David Homb, Victoria Morsell, Peter Maris, video game, fantasy

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