Taking A Look Back At "Phantasmagoria"

“Phantasmagoria” is a point-and-click adventure horror video game from 1995.

Those of us of a certain age will remember what it was like playing PC games in the 90’s.

I remember being at a sleepover at a friends house and his older sibling had this game with a weird name that I just couldn’t pronounce no matter how hard I tried, but I was intrigued as I was a big fan of computer games at the time but we didn’t have a PC at home so this was all new to me.

My friends brother was a bit hesitant about letting us play the game but our constant pleading and nagging wore him down enough to finally agreed to let us have a go on it, providing we didn’t say anything to his parents or blame him if we had nightmares (we were young kids).

I sat next to my friend as we watched the story unfold as he clicked away at the mouse. All of this was new to me, this wasn’t the ‘Super Mario’ Or ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ games that I was used to playing, this was something extremely different and I didn’t know what to make of it but I was certainly interested.
For those of you wondering what “Phantasmagoria” is, it was a 1995 PC Horror game, known as a point-and-click game, it was basically an interactive movie. It does feel a bit voyeuristic looking back but you control the situation and what the main character of ‘Adrienne Delaney’ does.
I haven’t played it ever again since that one long might all those years ago but I have certain images and scenarios in my memory, I don’t know if they’re real or not, for all I know I could’ve misremembered it but it certainly made an impression on me and my young mind.

The game had real actors which was such a strange concept to me at the time, it wasn’t a cartoon or an eight pixel character, these were real people. This made things much real for me, as well as the frightening aspects of the game my moral compass was also being put to the test.

We never did finish the game, apparently it could take many hours, and whilst I’m sure we did play it for a long time it probably wasn’t as long as I thought. We played enough of it that it left a mark on me though, enough of a mark that I still think about it from time to time.

Whilst looking at the information on this game I discovered it took 7 discs to install the game, this might sound like a lot to some but I do remember certain games being like this. I have a vague memory of my cousin having a game that had 14 floppy discs! (showing my age a bit there).

I also discovered that there was some controversy surrounding the games release, which didn’t surprise me initially when I read that there were many complaints about the graphic gore and extreme violence which is nothing to be shocked about really as this has happened a lot over the years.
There were also many complaints about an apparent rape scene that was featured in the game, I’ve never heard about this before and I haven’t actually seen it myself so it’s had for me to comment. But, I do somewhat understand why this would upset and anger some people.
Despite all this game makers Sierra stressed that the was only intended for adult audiences, the company willingly submitted it to a ratings system and also included a password-protected censoring option within the game to tone down the graphic content, which is a smart move business wise.
The game actually cost $4.5 million to develop, $1.5 million of that being spent on a studio that Sierra built specifically for the game. It may not sound a lot by today’s standards but this was a lot for a game back then, especially with it being a non-console game.
A year after the release of “Phantasmagoria” there was a sequel titled “Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle Of Flesh”, I never even knew about this one but from what I’ve read it wasn’t very well received by players of the first game due to lack of continuity and a completely different tone to it.
I have often wondered about this game and if I should try and play it again or look up clips online but I don’t want to tarnish that memory I have of that fateful night when a simple computer game managed to shock me in a way I never even knew was possible. Like I said earlier this was no ‘Super Mario’ or ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’.
Sure the game will have aged badly, it would more than likely bore the younger gamers of today, but those who played the game seem to remember it fondly with many nights sat in a dark room clicking away.
If you are interested in the game then here is a video of the full game play through (though I must warn you it is nearly four hours long):

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