For better or worse the age of the 'interactive movie' is upon us with the release of Phantasmagoria from Sierra. And yes, it does have seven CDs, though these are largely filled with video footage rather than with an enormous gameworld or with adventuring components. Roberta Williams, the game's creator, admits that it has been designed for a "mass market" and not for "hard-core" gamers, and as such she has tried to smooth out any frustration that new players might feel. Pointedly, this has removed much of the puzzle element that many experienced game players consider essential to good adventuring.
As an adventure game, therefore, Phantasmagoria is very easy, even without recourse to the red skull hintkeeper who doesn't hint, but tells you precisely what to do next. But it isn't strictly an adventure game, rather it's an 'interactive movie' and as such it is unfair to criticise it for its lack of mind-bending puzzles. Indeed, as an 'interactive movie' it stands alone. Although there have been other titles that have made use of full motion video none have quite managed to capture the spirit of the game world as this one has.
Copyright © Rosemary Young and Gordon Aplin 1995.
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Visually, this first step by Sierra into the realm of 'interactive movies' is superb, but be warned, you do need a fairly powerful machine to enjoy it in all its glory. Take note of the minimum system requirements -- a 486/25 with 8Mb RAM. If it works at all on a lower spec machine it would be practically unplayable. The music, too, is exceptional, and especially the title theme which has a suitably Gothic flavour and, combined with the graphics, it succeeds in conjuring up the perfect atmosphere for this eerie horror story.