Roberta Williams' Phantasmagoria is a 1995 horror-themed adventure game from Sierra Entertainment. Versions were produced for DOS, Windows, Mac, and the Sega Saturn console. Like the company's previous adventure titles, such as the King's Quest series, Phantasmagoria is a point-and-click adventure in which the player must solve puzzles in order to advance the story. The game is notable for its use of full-motion video and digitized actors. It also features graphic content that was a source of controversy upon its release, causing an uproar through the depiction of graphic violence, notably sexual violence.
In its manual, Phantasmagoria claims to be "one of the most sophisticated software packages ever produced". Development began with a budget of approximately $800,000; upon completion, costs soared to $4,500,000. However, Phantasmagoria was ultimately profitable, generating $12,000,000 in sales, making it one of the best-selling games Sierra ever released.
Phantasmagoria was re-released through Good Old Games on February 11, 2010.
The story of Phantasmagoria centers on Adrienne Delaney, a writer who purchases a large nineteenth-century mansion. She and her husband Donald Gordon made the purchase in the hopes that Adrienne could "get in the mood" for writing her next novel. What Adrienne and Donald do not know upon moving in is that a former resident, the magician Zoltan Carnovasch, was involved with deadly black magic. Carnovasch had summoned a spirit that possessed him and caused him to murder his wives.
Adrienne unknowingly releases the spirit during her exploration of the house and its artifacts, allowing the spirit to possess Donald. As a result, Donald becomes increasingly aggressive toward her over the next several days, with his behavior escalating to the point that he rapes her. Additionally, Adrienne begins to hear strange music and receives strange messages from a fortune-telling machine that is located in the house. During her exploration of the estate, Adrienne also discovers Harriet and her slow-witted son, a homeless family who have taken up residency in the manor's barn.
While researching the home's history, Adrienne discovers that Zoltan's wives all died in ways related to their personalities. She witnesses visions of the murders as she explores the mansion. For example, Hortencia, a gardener, was stabbed with gardening tools. Victoria, an alcoholic, was killed with a wine bottle. Lenora had her neck snapped in one of Zoltan's machines, and Regina was forced to eat animal entrails until she suffocated.
Adrienne learns that Zoltan met his end when his last wife, Maria, discovered that he was a murderer and planned to kill him with the help of her lover, Gaston. However, the plan went awry, and Maria and Gaston both were killed by Zoltan, but Gaston was able to kill Zoltan in his final moments. A young boy named Malcolm was the only witness to the tragedy, and Adrienne seeks out the now 110-year-old. Despite his age, Malcolm remembers the incident and informs Adrienne of how she must deal with the evil spirit which is possessing her husband.
Upon returning to the mansion, Adrienne discovers that Donald has been driven murderously insane by the spirit possessing him. He has also evidently killed Harriet, as he is wearing her scalp on his head. Donald attempts to kill Adrienne using an elaborate deathtrap, but she manages to escape and kill Donald, releasing the spirit from his body. Using an ancient ritual, she manages to trap the spirit once again. As the game comes to a conclusion, Adrienne is last seen leaving the mansion and its horrors in a daze.
Phantasmagoria is played like a standard "point and click" adventure game. Items can be collected and added to the player's on-screen inventory. Puzzles are solved using both inventory items and environment variables. Players that become stuck in the game can click on the Hintkeeper, a red skull displayed in the UI, for assistance. The Hintkeeper provides advice for every step of the game.
(Playable Character), novelist who purchases an old mansion as inspiration for her new novel.
Adrienne's Husband who becomes possessed by a spirit and goes insane.
Homeless woman, who lives with her son (Cyrus), in a barn on the mansion's grounds.
A Large homeless boy, probably in his mid-to-late teens, who lives with his mother (Harriet), in a barn on the mansion's grounds.
19th Century magician who was the original owner of the house purchased by Adrienne.
Wife of Zoltan, murdered with gardening tools by her husband.
Wife of Zoltan, murdered with a wine bottle by her husband.
Wife of Zoltan, murdered by having her neck snapped in one of her husband's magic apparatus.
Wife of Zoltan, murdered by being forced to eat animal entrails until she suffocates.
Wife of Zoltan, plots to kill him with her lover. Plan does not work, she is killed.
Maria's Lover, plots to kill Zoltan with Maria. He is ultimately killed in the process, but not before he murders Zoltan.
- 486/25 DOS or 486/66 Windows (Pentium recommended)
- 8 MB or more (16 MB recommended)
- CD-ROM: 2X speed (4X speed recommended)
- HARD DISK SPACE: 5 MB for small install (10 MB compressed)
- OS: MS-DOS 5.0 or higher
- WINDOWS: Windows 3.1 or higher
- VIDEO CARD: 640x480 256 colors SVGA
- OTHER REQUIREMENTS: Mouse, Soundcard with DAC
- 68040 25 Mhz Processor
- 8 MB with 5000 KB free
- CD-ROM: 2X speed (4X speed recommended)
- HARD DISK SPACE: 30 MB
- OS: System 7.1 or above
- DISPLAY: 13" monitor (256 color or greyscale)
- MOUSE: required