Written by  :  ETJB (450)
Written on  :  Jan 11, 2010
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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An Adult Adventure Game

The Good

For those people to young to remember, it was not too long ago that computer games were made on floppy disks and video games were made on cartridges.

The CD-ROM revolution slowly, and with plenty of goofs and pitfalls, forever changed both industries because CDs and DVDs can store much more programming then a disk or cartridge and still be profitable for the software developer or published.

One of the first major differences was that CD based games could now have full motion video or even CGI animated sequences.

It did not take long before a slew of games attempted to bring the, mostly, computer world of adventure gaming into this new age. Characters would be brought to life with voice actors, in environments that reflected the CD storage capacity.

Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of the Flesh was one of the more daring and ambitious projects to combine full video and CGI graphics with the traditional 'point n' click' graphic adventure games. Technically, the game is a masterpiece with the game environment brought to life with B-minus actors, full motion video, digital images and even some CGI animation.

The story itself is also groundbreaking for a computer game. It beautifully weaves together dark horror and science fiction elements with something taken out of “The Office” and tosses in a soap opera love triangle, kinky S&M nightlife and an identity crisis to boot.

The Bad

Yup, this computer game was taking us to a more ‘adult’ and ‘realistic’ environment then had been possible prior to the CD-ROM revolution. However, it was not without its minor and rather huge faults.

The difficulty level involved with the puzzles was uneven. Most were pretty easy except for illogical limitations, i.e. you can only open mail in your apartment’s living room. Other puzzles were nothing more engaging in a series of conversations with your co-workers.

Yes, the co-workers are certainly an interesting bunch of people. You have your two girl friends, the overweight office bully, the gay best friend, the friendly supervisor and the totally insane and corrupt boss. There are plenty more characters to interact with, but it can get a bit tedious talking to the same people all over and over just to get little bits of information or to help move the story along.

On the flip side, some of the puzzles are too hard. I am thinking of two in particular; one involving a seemingly simply tool chest and the other, near the end of the game, can only be solved by sheer dumb luck or reading a walkthrough online.

The Bottom Line

Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh demonstrates a tremendous amount of ambition and it shows.

The graphics and sound are amazing, the storyline is, for the most part, engaging and the game shows a real desire to appeal to an older demographic with its graphic violence, blood and gore, workplace puzzles, soap opera love affairs, mental illness, gender identity, gay best friends and a wild techno S&M nightclub.

It would have been nicer if some of the puzzles were a better developed, if some of the lines were a bit less corny and if their was more exploration possible.