Written by Morpheus Kitami
With the switches Will came to my rescue. I checked the first two hints, and it seems like it's the alphabet puzzle I was told to expect. So, that means I need to find a four letter word to type in...er...one that might actually open the door. Daae is the right length, but I don't think I can press the same letter twice...? No. My next guess was Erik, which is a crappy password, but requires one parse what this door actually is. I don't think I would ever guess that, but my normal patience has long since been depleted.
|A real man would take this spider web and use it to solve a puzzle, 5 CAPs if you get that reference|
Next puzzle...a spider-web. I assume this is just a test to make sure you picked up that sword in the last room. After the fact anyway, I assumed Raoul was going to break the sword on it knowing his track record. Suddenly, in a blinding flash, the phantom jumps out and Raoul impales him with his sword. Triumph!
No, I'm screwing with you, there's just more maze. I feel like I can encapsulate this game's puzzle design exclusively with the word maze. Its a curious design choice.
Thankfully, this section quickly deposits me in front of what I hope is the phantom's lair...and the door is locked? One is, the other is open.
|Here's a little something for our lady readers|
...and a sliding block puzzle? On a time limit? It's one of those...I don't know if there's an actual name for it, but you press each tile and it changes, you have to find a shape that way. Meh, the only problem is that the game doesn't tell you what you need to put it. What is it? I don't know, and even though I thought I figured it out with a violin shape, Raoul burned to death. Quite comically, first he takes off his jacket, then he bursts into flames like someone shot him with a flamethrower.
|I miscalculated how much of an egotist the Phantom is|
The real answer, is to make his mask out of the tiles. This opens the trap door in the upper right, which I can use the grappling hook on. Better be quick on your feet too, the flames don't stop. Glad I noticed that hook earlier.
|Is it just me, or does this feel Giger-esque?|
This deposits me in the Phantom's...throne room...? And apparently Raoul has the tread of a bull in a china shop, because Christine noticed me. Christine is in the door on the right.
|These all feel like incredibly stupid things to say, apparently I was right to play him as an ass earlier|
Okay, I guess if my choices are be stupid or leave someone to get murdered by a madman I'm going to be les incomparable un foole. Oh, no, its a musical lock. Only, I have to figure out what to play from four pieces. I don't have do anything. Phew. Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that I spent 4 hours of nothing getting here I would really enjoy this room.
The four pieces are four different Bach tunes, of which have long names. Select the wrong one and Raoul goes up in a magnificant blaze. I think that would put a damper on it's effectiveness as an organ, something a musician should care about. It is surprisingly not Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, that piece you definitely know, but rather my last choice, Little Fugue in G Minor. I guess I should have recognized what he played sometime earlier, assuming that's what it was. Crap, it's been so long I don't remember that.
|Again, very nice, but it feels wasted|
I...wait...what in the...? Oh...this is very familiar, but I guess technically this is the first time such a thing has ever been seen. Christine, who is in a weird Giger-esque pod can't get out. The room is very nice, very creepy, feels like it's been taken from an entirely different game.
It takes me a moment to figure out how to solve this puzzle. I need to unlock the pod (which is also the Phantom's bed). In the skull on the right I have to use my key to unlock it, then press one of the skulls to cause it to open. Also, its hydraulic. I roughly know where this is going at this point, but perhaps you don't.
After freeing her, Christine tells me how Erik put her into a trance and left her here, to get more food. Even gave her a ring and declared her his bride. She gives it to me, because she doesn't want it.
Finally, she managed to take off his mask while he played the organ. This caused Erik to believe she would never love him. Apparently he has the face of a corpse. So, she tricked him. This is how she reappeared earlier, and why she got kidnapped during the performance. Now we can run away.
|Oh, no, who could have foreseen this happening?|
|Hey, we haven't actually talked to him, have we?|
Now it is time for two great men to duel. After declaring that Christine shall be his bride forevermore, he starts pelting Raoul with fireballs. So...Erik is a fire mage? How does that relate to time travel? Just because I know what the plot is, doesn't mean I know the details. I use my sword on him and we briefly clash before Erik gets thrust unto the throne and disappears. I sat on it earlier and all I got was a message that someone was watching me.
Christine tells me to grab the score off the organ, possibly because she figures if Erik can't play his little tune he'll burn up. I dunno. It's Don Juan Triumphant, so I guess that isn't a concern. My concern is that I might have to go to the maze with her.
|This is the best thing that could have possibly happened here|
Oh, there's an oar here. Does that mean I can take a boat back? The game had several signs of that throughout the maze, and Christine said she was taken here by boat.
|Because she barely escaped from the Phantom|
Yes, there is a boat. And we get exposition. Christine wants Raoul to run away with her, but Raoul tries to tell her he's from the future. She doesn't want to listen, she just wants to hear the silence. The trip back is otherwise uneventful.
|And he's back!|
This course of events couldn't end happily, of course, and the Phantom grabs Christine as I get out of the secret shaft. Which way? Up? Yes! To the rafters again. Aha, I think I know where this is going, I have to get him on that damn chandelier and then cut it free. Or he's on the chandelier. Huh...where is this going? Its even frayed too.
|I sense no way this could go wrong, as the chandelier makes the same sound as in the start of the game|
The Phantom makes his short threat, Christine disappears and we duel again. He knocks the sword out of Raoul's hand, Raoul grabs his cane and we start tussling on the ground of the chandelier.
|Not the most flattering angle|
This takes away my items and actions, and now all I get are ways of interacting with the scenery, as it were. Push cane, and Raoul reverses the situation and starts pummeling the Phantom. Now I can take off his mask.
The chandelier falls, and with a triumphant sound, we are both dead.
|At some point there was an option for Raoul to be a dick, because of course there is|
This returns me to the present. Where Christine Florent is the Christine...and she's alive...I thought she died. What happened?
Nothing...none of this happened. Raoul fell from the catwalk and wasn't pushed. Raoul tries to tell these people what happened, but nothing did. Christine goes to fetch a doctor and Raoul, determined that something has happened, goes to check Madame Giry's book.
|So time has changed...|
|He is, unless someone decides to make a fan sequel|
And then we get some random quote. I got 248 out of 250. Probably because I missed the yellow color thing.
This Session: 30 minutes
Final time: 4 h 20 m
I said during the first entry that there should be more games based on The Phantom of the Opera. That is no longer my opinion. Indeed, I fully understand, there's just nothing you can do with it. Certainly this game hasn't done much with it. Apparently Erik is some sort of fire mage/chronomancer/hypnotist with alien technology but can't be bothered to deal with some random dude properly. What? What happened? You just made this crap up because it looked cool? That would have worked if the whole game was like that, but this just feels like someone put a couple of H.R. Giger paintings in at the last minute.
Since I can't accurately explain my complaints of the game's plot, and since the game is based around music, my musical critique of the game's plot.
But the other elephant in the room. Let me just start by saying an incredibly controversial opinion, I hate mazes. I used to like them, but now I just see them for what they are; A method of padding. Text adventures had a reason at first. Your twisty turny mazes, or drop items all along this maze to be able to know where you've been. I'm missing many, because I hate them now. Then it was inertia, something we just accepted as standard. This isn't even that, it isn't a copy of something good, its just a confusing, hateful mess. For that reason alone one should never, ever play this game. If I played this when it was new, I would have written letters, to Microprose, to the gaming magazines, this is just awful.
One thing I am interested in talking about is the claim that this title was the future. In a shocking twist of fate, I am not about to say that was wrong. There are indeed ways that this game's style has indeed taken over modern games, and ways that it is a complete failure. Some of these weren't obvious when the game was first sold.
|Taken from an archived version of Allgame|
So, let's take the obvious point, the visual spectacle. While it might be true that Myst couldn't be predicted, the general trend towards 3D could. We are talking about a company that was founded based on 3D simulations of reality after all. The simple act of everything being in an open 3D environment, even pre-rendered, completely demolishes what this was attempting. I specifically cite the Puzz-3D games because those titles were recreations of actual places. They achieved what this game set out to do. Now this is something that never would have happened for Phantom of the Opera, because those titles didn't do too well...and there isn't a Puzz-3D of the Opera House.
But in a different sense this game was the future. This is the game that would be what a thousand attempts at a revival would accidentally imitate, not even consciously. Modern adventure games tend to go less on the puzzles and more on atmosphere, story, plot. Which is not a bad thing if you can provide it. I would not go as far as to slander everyone by comparison to this game, but this just represents an extreme on the low end of these titles.
This is not to say that Phantom is complete garbage. There are good points, it's easy to find virtue in this game. But the negatives completely destroy any reason to play this game. Until that maze I was even going to say that Return of the Phantom would be a good title to introduce someone to the genre, but even on easy that maze is far too tedious. (This seems to be the primary change between difficulty settings). For instance, the game does a good job of explaining technical details that might be unfamiliar, as opera terminology is not common knowledge amongst plebs like myself. And being able to see where a door goes by examining it is something I have never seen before, and strikes me as something that would greatly improve many games in the genre.
While working on the summary and checking reviews I discovered that the game has a sort of fast travel option on some screens that can be done by pressing spacebar while moving. I say sort of because it only skips you ahead a little, which means you have to hold it down. Not really that useful on most screens.
Puzzles and Solvability
Let's take aside the maze for this category, because that does something special to this game. What other puzzles were there really? Some pixel-hunting? A few simple inventory puzzles? I feel like its a very bad sign for an adventure game to make me ask what puzzles it had. The Kristal may have been a dumpster fire, but at least it tried. This didn't. This feels like it has puzzles because that's something an adventure game has, not because anyone had any interest in making them. Solve a rotating block puzzle, use grappling hook on something just out of reach. This feels like child's play.
Interface and Inventory
Once on easy mode, this is your standard Lucasarts-style interface. I am annoyed that F1 activates the menu and the score is buried deep within that menu, but the controls and interface are fine otherwise. However there are two subtler issues. Raoul walks slowly, in a game that expects you to walk a lot. Up and down stairs, through a maze, across a wide opera house. Secondly, you could have quite easily subtracted almost all these commands down. Throw, put, give and close were never used, and the big item interface was also pretty useless, since you almost always do one thing with an item.
Story and Setting
I am offended by this story. That is all for now.
You know, now that I think of it, for a game that sells itself on its setting...it doesn't really feel like that much of an accomplishment. It doesn't feel like a grand opera house, it feels like I haven't begin to see a fraction of what these halls contain. Is this truly the grand opera hall? Or is it just some rundown theater? I feel like there should have been so many more rooms in the opera house, and not, you know, the sewers.
Sound and Graphics
You'd think it would ace this category, what with me using the MT-32 sound, but it's really not that impressive. The background music is...well, there. Various bigger musical stings are just that, stings. The only sound itself I can remember is that of the chandelier shaking, which was quite clever.
I don't feel strongly towards the way it looks one way or another. Its not bad, and I didn't really have to suffer much in pixel-hunting, but it's not interesting. It's at that awkward point where they're trying to make things realistic but they don't really have the resolution for that. That said, characters sprites were nice and very well-animated.
Environment and Atmosphere
There is an absolute ton of writing in this game relating to theater terms. This, I feel, is the game's strongest aspect. The game has almost as much writing here as on its story. In this regard the game has an edutainment quality to it, and I could see the game sold as that. Learn about the details of opera and the theater while solving a fun mystery, please provide own mystery.
That said this aspect of the game is somewhat dampened by the extreme length of some sections. It doesn't really feel that atmospheric to watch Raoul walk up a set of stairs, it feels like I'm watching a man walk up a set of stairs. And of course, the decline of the maze. Hard to get engrossed in a game when you feel the need to listen to something else in the background.
Dialogue and Acting
This feels like it was written by an American who wanted to sound French, but the only way he knew how to do that was to pepper in some basic French words. The voice-acting doesn't improve upon this. Speaking of which, that's very shodily done, at least in the quality department. It's clear and understandable, it just doesn't feel very well recorded. I am undecided on the voices themselves. They are amateurs, but almost all of them do a pretty good job emoting. I feel as though in a proper recording environment I would mind them not at all. There is no pretense of them sounding like the French, they are all solidly American.
1+5+3+5+7+5=26/0.6=43.3 or 43.
Special consideration, -2 for the maze. Just, no. So 41.
Vetinari, who also mentioned the maze, got the closest with 43. He even would have gotten it right if it weren't for the maze, except that was why he voted that way. This feels like one of those philosophical questions that isn't about the right answer, but how you think.
Anyway, period reviews...I didn't see this when I was checking the previews, but ASM has an ad for various games you can buy under their preview. Apparently for 149.90 Deutschmarks you can buy The 7th Guest, Inca or Jutland, a WWI naval sim. Checking my computer's calculator, and finding the latest currency exchange with the Euro, that's $82. Hmm...Oh, in their review while they don't have anything in the rating summary of gameplay, they do give it an 11 out of 12. I'm not translating this, whoever wrote this review was easily impressed.
Computer Gaming World's review is somewhat questionable, describing the story as unique, but does tell me some things I didn't know. For instance I probably should have checked what Rex Nebular played like before starting this game, but apparently I gave this the same score on interface as TBD did. Maybe I'm not just cynical towards games, I really am getting the creme de la toilette. Their reviewer also tells me that there's a sort of fast travel function that can be done by holding down the space bar. I don't think this would have improved much. Keyboard commands for the actions is something he wanted, but I don't get it. He optimistically rates the game length at 12 hours and doesn't mention the maze nearly enough.
Compute, which was the only other English review I have, is less a review and more an advertisement. You won't mind the slow walking speed, yeah, sure. All the non-English magazines are around the 70-80 range, which just goes to show how hard people fell for this thing's graphical appeal. It doesn't look that special to me. Am I wrong? I feel like that doesn't matter considering the game has an absolutely horrendeous maze.
150 CAPs to Morpheus Kitami
- Regret Award - 100 CAPs for playing through Return of the Phantom
- Axeman Award - 50 CAPs for playing through Twin Kingdom Valley
50 CAPs to Mariano Falzone
- Monk Award - 50 CAPs for playing through La Abadía del Crimen
20 CAPs to Laukku
- Assistant Monk Award - 10 CAPs for guessing the closest score to La Abadia del Crimen
- Forest King Award - 10 CAPs for guessing the closest score to Twin Kingdom Valley
20 CAPs to Vetinari
- A-Mazing Guess Award - 10 CAPs for guessing the closest score to Return of the Phantom
- Why Isn't There An Elevator Award - 10 CAPs for giving the best answer to my floor question, and giving more thought to it than anyone at Microprose...actually just anyone.
2 CAPs to Lisa H
- Generous Comparison Award - 2 CAPs for a rather generous comparison between Twin Kingdom Valley and Lucifer's Realm