Now I don’t actually own a physical copy of this classic PC game by thanks to the wonders that is GOG (aka Good Old Games) I am able to download it and play it on even my piss poor spec laptop. So essentially I paid money for air, the wonders of downloading games.
Phantasmagoria besides being a franchise with one of the most awesome names ever is a psychological horror FMV (full motion video) game. A Puzzle of Flesh, is the sequel to the very controversial original. Why is it controversial? Well the original featured a crazy amount of graphic content including horrific death scenes for characters and adult scenes which caused quite the stir back in the day when it was released. It included incredibly graphic death scenes, sexual content and rape. The sequel follows this trend but not on the same controversial level and is considered the tamer of the two entries.
You play Mr. Curtis Craig, a man who loves his pet rat ‘blob,’ and his girlfriend Jocilyn and never seems to change his grey pocket T-shirt throughout the entire game, he’s living the American dream. Curtis has also been out of a mental hospital for a year and creepy things start to go down at his home and work at the suspicious WynTech Industries Corporation, Curtis very quickly starts to question his sanity so it’s up to him to find out what’s going on or face another trip to the looney bin. It’s certainly a story I have not seen in a game before and contains a surprising amount of twists that most won’t see coming.
A Puzzle of Flesh is a point and click FMV game. The entire game consists of watching scenes and solving fairly simple puzzles. There really isn’t many opportunities to fail the game until later on where a wrong decision could lead to you dying in usually a rather entertaining scene, though death carries very little consequence as continuing places you right back at the scene before you got a game over. Puzzles are rarely challenging, only one puzzle right at the end becomes quite the head scratcher. A puzzle of flesh feels more an experience that an actual game. Your drive to continue will depend on how much you get sucked into the story, if you dig the horror scene this might be for you.
The point and click gameplay is not very solid at time. Sometimes you will reach areas of a game where you know how to progress but due to the games bizarre handling of combining items and how to use the inventory system. I had to actually pull out a guide to figure out how to get through the game even though I knew the solution only to find out the game wanted you to do some weird item combination thing that is not made clear in the instructions.
Graphics, well its FMV so it’s really actors doing some very bad acting which you will either adore because of its charm or just not feel very amused. Environments are fairly standard for a FMV game, some in an office, in a house and later a secret lab and strange world. The game does handle the crazy very well specifically when Curtis trips out and goes all mental. The game carries off the whole B movie horror film thing quite well.
Music is quite hilarious, very 90s especially when you enter a club later on in the game. During moments of fear and tense the sounds used are appropriate and add the tension. The voice acting feels over done by most of the cast but it works. Many of the characters come out with the oddest one liners that you won’t be forgetting in a hurry including the "My ASS!!!" from a police detective. Hardly an Oscar winning script but definitely a good laugh by today’s standards.
Verdict:- Pantasmagoria: a puzzle of flesh is memorable experience even if you only play through it once.
For fans of FMV games this is a must play but anyone new to this type of point and click game be cautious this game has mature adult content as well as graphic gore scenes (not for the squeamish) and is really only for those up for a basic gameplay experience and of course for those that loved the FMV boom in the nineties.
At times the point and click controls will become a pain and the way ahead won’t be clear due to the way the game handles its inventory system, you may have to seek help with an online guide. As a horror fan I really enjoyed this game and the story is nothing like anything I have seen before in game or film.
Second Opinion:- At one point in time these games were all the rage and along with point and click adventures are the main reason the PC gaming market grew so quickly.
Whilst absolutely not the best example of the FMV genre in any possible way it is at least playable and a bit of fun and you could do far worse than spending some time with this.
Transbot Scores:- 5 out of 10