I'm a 20-year old with no nostalgia goggles, but lots of love for both retro gaming and quality point'n'clicks. I'm at the early Chapter 2 of Phantasmagoria and the gameplay is mostly a terrible bore. Its reputation often seems to stem more from the boundary-pushing graphics and "mature" content rather than any actual game-related merits, so I'll ask out right - does it get much better? The premise is the most basic haunted house story you can get, but it is somewhat fun to explore all of its nooks and crannies. Or it would be if not the game's selling point - FMV sequences. Phantasmagoria makes sure to give player time to behold the compressed pixelated mess of our heroine looking into a mirror or washing her hands for what can be 15 seconds. Great fun.
Does it pick up and redeem itself with plot/puzzles/atmosphere/all of the above or is it all pain, no gain afffair?
The graphics were really *never* boundary pushing, at all...;) I bought the game when it initially shipped, so long ago my memories have cobwebs on top of cobwebs, and I recall being severely disappointed by the graphics of the game *then.* You can apply a couple of patches to remove the scanlines from the animation clips (DOS version), but that only marginally improves things--still, I'd advise you do that. (There is a thread in this forum with links for it.) I keep P1 around as a collector's item, but each time I fire it up I cringe at the horribly overdone melodrama...;) The two principal people in the game have horrible chemistry together on top of that--they simply aren't even believable together. If I had to sum it up, the game has no elegance, no finesse--it's just crude and rude--everything is just "too much" and the pace of the game is dreadfully slow because of it. FMV, imo, has yet to reach its peak--the potential today is simply awesome--but few developers are trying to use it; opting for polygon-driven 3d, instead. I hope that will change as the tech is ubiquitous for it today!
What I think sunk the game when it was released (and a lot of people liked it fine--I'm just a bit more of a critic, I suppose) was the computer-game tech level of the time--it was still a time of DOS, Win3.1, when 640x480 was considered "high" resolution and x86-driven animation clips were 8/16-bit and often the size of postage stamps...;) Also, I think the music was pretty bad--way, way overdone and heavy-handed. It promised one atmosphere but the game delivered another--oil and water. My advice is to stick with it as long as you can take it but not to feel bad if you get bored and decide to move on to something else...;)