With Halloween being so close, I have to keep this Voice Of Horror thing going, so enjoy it while it’s going on, because once Halloween is past, these will be more spaced out. But for now, I’m excited to bring up two more games that scared the bejeezus out of me as a youngling: The 7th Guest and Phantasmagoria II: A Puzzle Of Flesh. These were two games that I played through several times on the PC and still remember very fondly to this day.
The 7th Guest
Around the age of 8 or 9, my family got our first real PC. It ran Windows 3.1 (how many of you remember THAT?) and almost every game had to be run via DOS. This was during the height of point-and-click adventure games such as Myst, Grim Fandango, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Loom, and others. However, to us horror fans, the game that stood out at the time was now defunct Trilobyte’s The 7th Guest. A point-and-click puzzle game that took place inside a haunted house where the player had to solve twisted riddles and games in order to figure out the truth, The 7th Guest was a game built around gorgeous, albeit MIDI, music and haunting, creepy sounds that truly breathed life into the Stauf mansion. The soundtrack, composed by The Fat Man, ranged from twisted jazz to eerie lullabies to lounge music, all of which always felt slightly…off.
As this was a game that was put out on CD-ROM, the audio was of much higher quality than NES and offered more depth and variety of sounds. The sound bites of plants rustling, doors squeaking, the house moaning and groaning all added to the gaming experience that made The 7th Guest a difficult game to play in the dark.
Phantasmagoria II: A Puzzle of Flesh
Several years later, when I was about 14, I managed to get my hands on a used copy of Phantasmagoria II: A Puzzle of Flesh at a local EB Games. I only got the first Phantasmagoria years later and always had trouble running it on my Windows XP PC, so I never fully got the opportunity to enjoy it. However, A Puzzle of the Flesh worked almost perfectly (a hang up here, a crash there, nothing serious) and I was able to delve yet again into the world of survival point-and-click. In this game, players are put into the role of Curtis, a seemingly mild, everyday guy who begins to experience terrifying hallucinations and events, all while gruesome and grisly murders are being committed.
This was yet another game where each successful click would activate a movie, complete with actors and sets, to show the resulting action. Because of this approach to gaming, the audio had to feel just as real, even if the cut scenes might have felt a little forced here and there. What resulted was a game where the background noise became truly unsettling and made one feel as though there was something crawling underneath one’s skin. As Curtis descends deeper and deeper into the madness of his visions, the music becomes more and more unsettling and the sounds become more and more acute. This was one of the first games where I needed to take a break every once in a while to get the jitters out of my spine.
Fun fact: Phantasmagoria II: A Puzzle Of Flesh is considered to be one of the first games to feature not only an openly gay man in a positive light (by the LGBT community standards), but also Curtis is revealed to be a bi-sexual man.
‘The Voice Of Horror’ banner was designed by Dead Pixel’s Adam Dodd