INTRODUCTION You are Adrienne Delaney, a young author who's married to photographer Donald Gordon. You have just bought a house in the picturesque Nipawomsett. The house is a strange place, the former mansion of an illusionist who died a violent death ... and the place is still rumoured to be haunted...
HOW TO PLAY
The game only uses the cursor.It's yellow and will turn red on spots where something interesting may happen.
On the start up screen you may choose to watch the introduction (needs CD1). You can also start a new game, load an old game, or, if you finished Phantasmagoria, watch the Chapter 7 Chase film.
Upon starting a new game, you name it and press Enter. Then you can choose in which of the 7 chapters the game is divided into, you desire to start. Novice players are adviced to start at the beginning, or else you miss the story.
There is only one savegame. Use it wisely. The savegame is called the "bookmark". Gameplay is straightforward. In the playing field, a red icon means check out, pick up or activate. A red arrow means "walk in the direction of arrow". Objects in your inventory can be picked up by clicking on them. Click on the eye (toolbar bottom right) to investigate them. You can turn them around in the pop up window and check for activity. And you can click them on the GameKeeper (toolbar bottom left) to hear a description. Clicking on the GameKeeper without item will get you a hint.
This game contains several horrid scenes: a rape video and various murder visions are some of the more intense films. For this purpose, Phantasmagoria contains a self-censor that blurs out the blood and other nastiness. Upon activation, it calls for a password. You will need to remember it in case you want to change it back to the full monty. Alternatively you could delete the memory.drv file in your Phantasmagoria folder.
This game will not appear to be too buggy when playing it on Windows 95 or 98. On any other system, you might want to play the DOS version of the game using DosBOX. I got the game to work on Vista, but it's quite a drag.
In case of repeated error messages, the computer may have remembered the first one and give you an error message every time you try again. This can be solved by re-starting your computer. In case the colours appear to be screwed up, you will need to change the settings of your PC to 256 colours. Sometimes, a video that should be played when clicking a hot spot, won't show. This is the case with the Theatre Make Up Room Mirror Vision, and the Barrel Vision. The Barrel Vision problem will only occur in chapter 5, so it can be viewed in chapter 6. The make-up room vid can only be seen in chapter 6 and will only work if you didn't look in the mirror in chapter 5.
In case you're playing Phantasmagoria on a recent operating system, like Windows XP, or Vista: good luck. One often-occurring error appears in Chapter 5, when you look at the magic lantern in the conservatory, and when you subsequently open the secret passage. It will chuck you out of the game, and the only work-around is skipping these scenes using the >>-button right over the P.
The autostart on these newer servers will NOT WORK. Instead, you'll get a message that the game is not yet installed. It actually is. You just have to play Phantas through the Start menu.
Vista may also have problems changing colours of the cursor, so it won't light on a hotspot. And it may just skip the start-of-chase VMD in chapter 7, which may become problematic. These issues have no known workaround.
As this game has a fairly low amount necessary actions, the walkthrough is very minimal indeed. There are various paths which may be taken, which will prove to be extra entertaining. These will all be in the Fun List section, along with the easter eggs. It is adviced to thoroughly explore the house and the garden, because it is rather nasty trying to find the right way when you're in a hurry.
At starting the game: You may need a tool, a hammer or a fireplace poker. Obtain the poker from the fireplace in the dining room. Go to kitchen. Open drawer. Get matchbook. Go to pantry. Remove floor rug. Open hatch with poker. Attempt to go down. Click matches on Adrienne. Go down. Click on hammer on the floor.
CHAPTER 1: Attempt to open theatre doors. Go outside to the car. Enter car. In town, walk to the real estate. Talk twice to the man at the desk there. Search his file cabinet, get the key. Go home, enter the long passage way in the main hall, opposite to the door. Open the door with the key. Enter library. Walk to desk, pick up statuette. Look at statuette in close-up box, click the head. It's a letter-opener! Click the library fireplace. Click on it with letter opener. Enter the chapel. Take big book from the table. Open the box.
CHAPTER 2: Get $5 note from the drawer in the bedroom. Go to the store in town, buy drain-cleaner, get a free soup bone, go to the house of Malcolm, give bone to dog, enter garden and knock door. Go home, enter barn, look at pots, give Don the drain cleaner. When he leaves, go upstairs and knock on the darkroom door.
CHAPTER 3: Click on the man at the tree. Go to the barn. Climb ladder. Take pitchfork, use it to get the pulley. Then click pulley, then click it on Harriet. When she's free, look at the hole, use the hammer to get the nail from the plank. Go to the top floor of the house, to the door with the key on the other side. Use nail to push it out, then use poker to get the key. Go in, and enter the tower room. Look out the window. Open the drawer of bedside table, read book. Go to Malcolm's house, give book to housekeeper. Then go home.
CHAPTER 4: Go downstairs, talk to Harriet, go in the garden and talk to Cyrus until he'll show you the way. Walk to where the trail's washed out, talk to Cyrus until he leaves. Cross the tree. One screen further, take the shiny lens piece off the ground. Advance, click on the telescope next to greenhouse, click the lense on it and peer through it. Return home, go to the room with the wooden planks before the tower room, use hammer on the planks. Enter this attic. Go to reception hall.
CHAPTER 5: Go to main hall, talk to Cyrus. Go to barn. Attend seance. Go to conservatory, click on dragon statue in center of the room, click on the dragon picture on the wall. Enter secret passage. Move down with the lift. Walk on and move down with the next lift. Go down right to the theatre. Enter make-up room, open closet, take photo from top shelf. Leave theatre through main doors.
CHAPTER 6: Go to Malcolm, give photo to lady at door, go back home, in main hall talk to Mike working at the phone.
CHAPTER 7: Go to nursery, pick up glass shard. Go to crypt (in chapel, let Adrienne go left), pick up rosary beads from coffin. Go to theatre make-up room, get snowman from the vest on the floor. Go to darkroom. Take a deep breath. CHASE: All things must happen as quickly as you can. Don't wait for Adrienne to stop moving, you may just kill her. As soon as you have the opportunity, click on the drain cleaner on the right bench. Quickly grab the book.
In the chair: as soon as you have the opportunity, give Don the snowman and quickly pull the lever.
Run for the secret passage. There, go north, to the broken stairway. Click on the pipe in the top of the screen.
At the door, pull down the bar. Quickly run further into the chamber. Advance to the table. Click spellbook on table. Click corpse. Click talisman on book. Click shard on you. Put back shard and grab paternoster, click it on the book.
It's very enjoyable to play around with the chase, if you have the guts. While it takes up around 20 minutes if you play it the fast way, you can get hours of entertaining gameplay if you played it the proper way instead of cheating. It is a thrilling sequence, truly the heart of the game. It's the only time you risk death, and expiration lurks everywhere! Not to mention that Don's lines and cackling are good for a few laughs. For your entertainment, once you end the game by expiration or finishing, you may re-view your game.
There are 4 items you need to play the chair-and-beyond scenes. These are: the book, the snowman, a sharp object (brooch or shard) and a holy item (crucifix or rosary beads). After you have all these, Don will automatically capture you.
At the start of the chase, the easiest way to get killed is to do nothing when Don strangles you.
Alternatively, after using the drain cleaner, you may take the book immediately, but this means Don will capture you, even if you don't have all the objects. You can talk to Don or wait around. Both will get you taken to the Throne of Terror.
And then, you can run out. There's a more or less linear path, not a circular one. It's easy to get trapped.
Let's start with the legend: green underline means there may be an item to collect. This depends on your inventory. If you have the crucifix, you can't get the rosary beads. If you have the brooch, you can use the shard, but not take it. These are also the only places where you can attack Don with any of the weapons you may be carrying.
The two red circles are dead end. If you visit either the chasm, or run into the main hall, Don will capture you.
The red letters stand for the rooms where the corpses of Cyrus, Harriet and Mike may be found.
Also note that you can't run into any room where you would be trapped. Nor can you run into the library from the chapel.
There are a few basics to the chase scene. One is that there's a death option that's always present: doing nothing. Secondly, walking back into a room (dead-end on the map, the side paths) is never a good idea, as using a weapon is the only way to temporarily escape Don, and the weapon disappears after using it. Running back and forth is something you can only do once in a row before Don catches you. A catch of Don leads to the Throne of Terror section of the chase.
In the following section I'll deal with the rooms in map order from left to right. I use the word "room" if there's only one entrance/exit, passage if there are more than 1, and dead end if it leads to capture.
CRYPT On the way to the crypt, you will encounter Cyrus's corpse. When you're in the crypt, you can either click on the gargoyle next to the entry to crush your hubby, or click the fireplace poker onto Mary's tomb. After you've pried off the stone, you can crawl in. When you regain control, you can duck back into the tomb, but Don will find you. You can only leave the crypt if you use the gargoyle. You could also attempt to run straight out, or attack Don with bare hand, shard, poker or hammer. None will be successful.
The rosary beads will appear on top of Mary's tomb.
CHASM Don will catch up here. There are 2 vids of him doing so on the disk.
THEATRE When you first enter the theatre, you will find Harriet. Otherwise it's a 3-way passage with one dead end: the main door. Attempting to open it results in capture.
THEATRE MAKE-UP ROOM In the vest on the floor lies the snowman. When you get here, click the closet to crawl into it. Then click Don with your favourite weapon to try to ambush him, but note only the poker will work. After using the poker, it disappears from your inventory, so you can't crawl into Mary's tomb if you went here before the crypt.
GROUND FLOOR SECRET PASSAGE A 4-way passage. Not much of interest.
FIRST FLOOR SECRET PASSAGE If you pull the lever of the hatch in Mary's room, you'll get an unpleasant surprise. If you descend into this place from the 2nd floor, you'll have to walk back a little first to try it.
SECOND FLOOR SECRET PASSAGE When you descend it for the first time, Don will pull you up. You can escape him by jumping off the platform.
CONSERVATORY You can try to hide behind the couch here, but you will get caught.
SECOND FLOOR Three-way passage between conservatory, second floor and nursery.
NURSERY The glass shard can be found here. Hide behind the door and ambush Don. If you already have the brooch, you won't keep the shard after using it. Even if you keep it, this trick won't work the second time. You may also try other weapons for fun.
FIRST FLOOR Passage that exists in 2 parts: outside the darkroom, and outside Mary's bedroom.
DARKROOM After picking up the book, you may attack Don with the hammer for some dramatic effects. You can use other weapons, but Don dodges those. You can also check up on Don after you hit him, but that's not healthy. After using the hammer, it will not return into your inventory.
GROUND FLOOR 3-way passage to main hall, front door and first floor.
MAIN HALL Dead end.
FRONT DOOR The front door will not open, but after your attempt you may save your skin if you run up the stairs.
THRONE OF TERROR
The Throne Of Terror is where Adrienne gets strapped into a chair. She may try the following:
After the demon rises, Adrienne can run to the front door and get killed. She can also run for the secret passage. There she may remove the debris for the elevator, go back to the theatre, or wait around and die. To live on, you must run to the chasm. You can try to run over it and fail, or click on the drain in the top left of the screen to make it across. After running through the door, you must bar it. You can run away without barring, or un-bar it again, fith fatal consequences. Then run into the hall. Come closer to the table. Open the book on the table, get the talisman off Carno. When you use the brooch for blood, the pin must be out. Otherwise there's not much deviation from the plot possible here.
Not many games are made on 7 CDs anymore. I sure noticed this while buying it: at a second-hand store, I bought CD 2 to 7, but I missed CD1. When I came home, I discovered I couldn't play it. The next day, I went back and picked up CD1. For some reason the store was selling them separately.
Although the game needs 7 disks, it's very short, and will take 10 hours for an unexperienced player to solve. Up to chapter 7, it's not very hard either. This is because the game was primarily intended to attract a new audience, not satisfy an existing one.
The story draws strongly on the Shining. It has both a similar story and similar build-up. The story develops very gradually. After the 3rd chapter, I was quite let down with it: the cover promised nightmares, but the spookiness of the game didn't really get to me. At the fourth chapter, things definitely got more interesting with a rape and a murder scene. At chapter 5, one particular forcefeed-death scene made me sick. Chapter 6 continues the tension even stronger, and made me so creeped out, I didn't even dare to play Chapter 7. Even after reading walkthroughs and seeing YouTube videos, I didn't dare to play it. It took me nearly a year, and I played it on a different computer (with Vista) so I had a tiny screen. Kudos to Roberta Williams; although I'm a nervous wreck and I can't play fighting games, I never stopped playing a game out of fear.
Some things about this game bothered me: one is that it's not full. In fact, it's very stripped to bare essentials. It means that, when there is a closet with 5 drawers, you can only open one. On the other hand, Lou Ann's stories are told on disks 2, 3, 4 and 6, and they take up much space.
Secondly, it's very easy to miss a large number of videos. Complete scenes and people could be ignored. There's no need to visit Lou-Ann at all, and at first playing I completely missed the crypt. It's a bit of a pity.
At first play, I didn't have a proper soundcard installed, so I couldn't play MIDI-files. This meant I missed the music entirely, leaving the player piano useless. When I replayed it later, I found the MIDI music a nuisiance at times. The endgame song Take a Stand is rather uninteresting. However, the choir is impressive and Consumite Furore is one of my favourite game musics now. The sound is reasonably clear, although I do find it hard to understand Don's muttering; especially his cackling during the chase. It's hilarious though, and that's one thing I really appreciated from this game. Even the bad character is so lovable I was a bit sore killing him. Although the side character development isn't perfect, most of them will give you a good laugh. The acting is good enough, and credible, which is amazing considering it's bluescreen work.
Some very unfortunate points in this game come at the death of the cat Spaz. It's a bit of fluff so unlike the kitty that I didn't even know it was supposed to be the cat. The sections where Adrienne reads letters, articles or diaries are annoying and can't be skipped through. The letters of the authors are still in the house of the authors, so they never were sent. The door to the tower room has the bar on the outside, but the door opening to the inside. The intensity of Adrienne's reaction to videos doesn't always match their content: the make-up room vision is just the injured Zoltan, to which she overreacts. The completely sick murder of Regina, and the discovery of the corpses Mike and Cyrus, are things she seems to take with strength. The corpses of Mary, Gaston and Hortensia all seem in very good condition considering they've been dead for a century. Nor do they have any of the injuries they died from.
Considering the age, the overall looks of the game are neat. The computer-rendered images look realistic enough, and none of the characters suffers much from a blue hue, compared to 7th Guest which gives all the characters a green tint. The controls are good and fit the nature of the game: straightforward and easy, until the chase. At the Throne, the cursor becomes black/white and doesn't change over an active spot.
In all, I had a good time playing Phantasmagoria, although the game gave me many nightmares. Many games did in fact (Clue, Prince of Persia, even FoulPlay). It has an interesting and entertaining story, and very impressive videos. Playing Phantas was an experience: not killing or wasting time, but spending it in quality.
Wikipedia on Phantas
Anthony Larme's wonderful Phantas site
Akril's site on Sierra games contains a lot of information of stuff that is on the game disk, but not in the game. I added the info on the Phantasmagoria section.