Retro Gaming, Video Games

Cult Classic Throwback: Phantasmagoria

Y’all ready for a throwback? Let’s talk about a classic that not only (pleasantly) haunted my childhood, but soon became a cult favorite in the horror single-player community.

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Sierra On-Line’s Phantasmagoria.

The year was 1995. Interactive movie gaming was at its peak and that summer a brand new point-and-click debuted. Phantasmagoria was the brain child of writer and designer Roberta Williams and developer Sierra On-Line. Though the release date was pushed back several times before, the highly anticipated horror game was received well and experienced a bit of controversy along the way. It was massive to bring to life – costing millions to film and develop with a Hollywood-size cast and studio to boot. What you have in the end was a game that would successfully immerse you into a world of suspense and mystery.

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Phantasmagoria follows Adrienne and her husband Don, who apparently decided on what seems to be a whim to purchase an immaculate old mansion located on its own island. It is quickly discovered that this is no ordinary old mansion, as it used to belong to a man by the name of Zoltan Carnovasch, a magician of the 19th century with some extremely peculiar taste. That right there should have been a sign to Adrienne that something was up, but I digress. It gets MUCH WORSE. Our boy Carno, as Zoltan is lovingly dubbed, had an issue keeping a wife. In fact, he had five of them that all ended up dead in pretty gruesome ways. Eventually Zoltan died, as well, and thus the mystery was lost to time. Until Adrienne came along.

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You know how writers are: they enjoy a good mystery. Adrienne is no different, as mystery is her genre of choice. For anyone who has played Phantasmagoria, you know good and well that we develop a love-hate relationship with this poor woman. Personally, I hated her orange shirt and her stiff posture as she walked, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t copy her walk around my house when nobody was paying attention to me.

Anyway… while Don worked on his upstairs darkroom for his photography, Adrienne was left to her devices to explore the estate and all of its weird quirks. Along the way, she stumbled on folks squatting in her barn, she discovered a bricked-up entrance to a secret chapel, and she even managed to unleash a vengeful demon – talk about a great day of exploring!

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Phantasmagoria boasts some great feats with this game. After all, how many games can you name that features a choir of 135 people singing in Latin about releasing a demon with heavy 90s influence? The nostalgia this game brings with all 7 disks (or 8 for the Sega Saturn!) is nothing to sneer at, though some might not agree with the storyline. It’s violent. It’s gory. It has a controversial rape scene. However, developers included a censorship option to alleviate some of the heavy content for younger or more sensitive players. That never stopped me, though. Go big or go home, right?

Back in 1995, you had to buy this baby for Windows 95, MS-DOS, and Windows 3.1. Later it was also released in Japan exclusively for the Sega Saturn. Now you can download it on Steam to either relive the nightmare, or experience it for the first time.

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So, tell us what you think! Did you ever play Phantasmagoria? Experience any strange nightmares of your own after finishing the adventure? Join the discussion below!✌

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