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Video Game / Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh

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"You know, Curtis, you look a lot like your mother..."

Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle Of Flesh, commonly known as "Phantasmagoria 2", is a 1996 FMV Game and In Name Only sequel to Sierra's Phantasmagoria.

It's been one year since Curtis Craig (played by Paul Morgan Stetler) was released from the asylum. He's done his best to readjust to normal life - securing a desk job at his late father's workplace, WynTech Pharmaceuticals, making friends, and even entering a relationship with his co-worker Jocilyn. Unfortunately, some scars don't heal easily, and it seems every day is a struggle against his mental illness and sexual repression.

Then one day, things change. One of Curtis's co-workers is found brutally murdered in the office, and Curtis's hallucinations start ramping up in both frequency and horror. Paranoid that WynTech is somehow behind it all, Curtis beings to investigate the company's shady dealings while desperately trying to hold onto his own sanity.


This game provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Curtis's mother physically and psychologically abused him. It's because she somehow knew the "Curtis" that came out of the portal to Dimension X wasn't her real son, and she hated him and saw him as a monster.
  • Alliterative Name: Curtis Craig.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles:
    • As his hallucinations steadily increase and more people end up dead, Curtis starts to visit a therapist, Dr. Harburg, to talk about his many, many issues. However, Harburg is not in on the conspiracy and thinks that Curtis is just a paranoid schizophrenic, right up until the Hecatomb melts her to death.
    • Averted by Harburg's colleague Dr. Marek, who knows for a fact that aliens exist and is in league with Paul Allen Warner.
  • All The Worlds Are a Stage: The Battle in the Center of the Mind at the end of the game brings back locations and characters from earlier in the game, some slightly twisted, and the rest outright nightmarish.
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  • Almost Kiss: Curtis and Trevor, in which Trevor stops for some reason. Trevor then dies afterwards, much to Curtis' anguish.
  • And I Must Scream: Paul Allen Warner ends up as a severed head hanging in Dimension X and still alive in The Stinger. He gasps with a look of terror on his face, lacking the capacity to do anything else.
  • And Show It to You: The hallucination of Therese can kill Curtis by ripping out his heart, which is then held next to him.
  • Artificial Human: Curtis, to replace the real Curtis. As a result, he has a hard time connecting with people, but gets the consolation prize of being sexually desirable to everyone he meets, man or woman.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Bob is the Sitcom Archnemesis that everyone in-game hates, and when he gets killed the characters seem more affected by such a gruesome death being done in their office more than the actual person who was killed.
    • Curtis's therapist is pretty useless, and her reflections on their sessions behind his back make it pretty clear she's not particularly interested in his wellbeing.
  • Bag of Holding: Curtis spends the entire game wearing only some black jeans and a grey t-shirt with almost no storage space, but somehow he can hold numerous items varying in size from photos of his colleagues, to a massive toolbox which used to belong to his father, and even alien creatures from Dimension-X, which he is not shown carrying in the transition FMVs.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: the final confrontation with the Hecatomb. Curtis has to battle all his personal demons, ending with his abusive mother. See Power of Love further down the page for the outcome
  • The Beast Master: Curtis is somehow able to command his rat to fetch his wallet out from under the couch, using a granola bar to lure it in. It's eventually revealed that Curtis is an alien made from dead rats and that could have given him a telepathic connection toward rats.
  • Bedlam House: The mental institution Curtis was sent to is this trope on so many levels. This is why Curtis did not want to go into a mental institution when his problems started coming up. He should have explained to Dr. Harburg why he did not want to go into one when she advised him to. Then again, it is hard to say if she would have believed him or not, let alone done something about it. It also turns out the mental institution and Dr. Marek were in league with Paul Allen Warner and WynTech. Paul Allen Warner even brags to Curtis that Curtis was sent there so they could study him more closely. It is a wonder that Curtis can even function after what he had been through there, among other things.
  • Betty and Veronica: Jocilyn is the Betty (timid, steady girlfriend), and Therese is the Veronica (seductive, BDSM enthusiast). Therese dies and Jocilyn lives. It is up to you if Curtis gets Jocilyn or not.
  • Big Bad: Paul Allen Warner. This is not a spoiler. However, Paul Allen Warner's status gets hijacked by the Hecatomb, and Paul Allen Warner is treated like nothing more than an afterthought by the end of the game. That is a spoiler.
  • Body Horror:
    • The ultimate fate of Doctor Harburg, who gets melted into a pile of goo.
    • The Hecatomb looks as if he was put together by someone with only the crudest knowledge of human anatomy. It even has a beating heart on the outside of his chest.
    • Paul Allen Warner ends up as a head with tendrils connecting to him. He can only make frightened gurgles. His fate may qualify as And I Must Scream.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Zigzagged Trope. Curtis actually visits an S&M club, and his psychologist finds nothing inherently wrong with Curtis's passing interest in bondage photos. The woman who is encouraging him to try bondage does, however, come off as a complete nutcase and the term "safeword" never comes into the picture.
  • Boring, but Practical: In a gothic supernatural horror game, what's your most used item? Magic powers? A cross? A gun? No, it's a run of the mill screwdriver, and you'll use it at least once in every chapter.
  • Break the Comedian: Trevor, a Deadpan Snarker extraordinaire who enjoys things like comical puppets, trading cheeky emails with Curtis and telling spectacularly ridiculous stories. However, as the story goes on and the bodies start piling up, Trevor's witticisms start seeming like deliberate attempts to keep him and Curtis from going insane from stress as they delve deeper into the mystery. Once Trevor realizes how much danger they're in, though, all jokes are off: his last email to Curtis is a horror-stricken "FORGET WYNTECH AND GET OUT OF THERE NOW!" In his final scene, a deeply-shaken Trevor decides to go to the cops and blow the whistle, soberly warning Curtis to stay as far away from the action as possible so he doesn't get hurt. And then the Hecatomb murders him.
  • Break the Cutie: Let's face it. Curtis Craig received this in one form or another for his entire life. Which is a part of the Hecatomb's motivation for killing people. See the Grand Theft Me entry below.
  • Bury Your Disabled: Paul Allen Warner and Dr. Marek have been feeding mental patients from Marek's asylum to extradimensional Starfish Aliens because no one would miss them. It's implied that they were used as Human Resources.
  • Bury Your Gays: Trevor doesn't make it to the end of the game.
  • Camp Gay: Trevor is a fairly realistic example, although it's implied he's intentionally playing up the stereotype, as he completely drops it once things get serious.
  • Catchphrase: Beat it, Rat Boy.
  • Changeling Tale: Curtis being revealed as an alien clone of the original Curtis who was stolen away has shades of this, just making it told from the changeling's point of view and making him sympathetic as a result. It just replaces fairies with interdimensional aliens.
  • Chick Magnet: There's only two people in the office who aren't into Curtis in some form. Hell, even Trevor and Bob, allegedly wants him.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: While she obviously went nuts because of it, Curtis's mother could somehow tell the boy was an alien monster and not really her son.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Well, if Curtis's dad wanted his son to find this box, clearly the smartest thing to do would be to hide it in a small walled off room hidden behind a small closet in your workplace and hope that he works there too someday, and just happens to feel like checking out hidden tiny doors in the back of closets. ... and also shove a dress in there for good measure. The company has seemingly been looking after Curtis his whole life, as they'd want to keep track of the extra-dimensional being that thinks it's people. But that still gives us no clue as to why Curtis would suddenly become interested in that particular door at the exact same time that the Threshold Project is ramping up again.
  • Creator Cameo
    • Lorelei Shannon has a cameo as the female patient in the mental asylum who tells Curtis that he's "Sick and Wrong!"
    • Andy Hoyos cameos as a mental patient who shouts random words when clicked on, and also gets fed to the Hetacomb. His head also makes a few appearances in Easter eggs.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: There's quite a few in this game. In one given example, Therese is stabbed, gagged, held up by a hook and electrocuted to death in her own blood, with her cries of help being ignored as people assume she's working with a client.
  • Cuckoo Nest: Sort of. The villain is trying to make Curtis think that he (Curtis) is the one committing the murders and that he should check himself into a mental institute.
  • The Cutie: Trevor Barnes, Curtis' adorably snarky best friend who's always there for him, no matter what.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:! Curtis Craig defines this trope. His mother dressed him like a girl, subjected him to electric shocks while he was strapped to a chair, as well as chased after him with a knife with the intent to kill him. She kept on calling him "a monster", which was apparently her reason or excuse for abusing him. Curtis ultimately finds her having committed suicide. His father seemed to neglect him, kept looking at him with sad eyes, and tried to protect him from his mother - but not enough. He is shot to death by WynTech goons, and Curtis finds his dead body. It is later revealed that his father worked with Paul Allen Warner on experiments with a portal between dimensions. While no one was looking, PAW grabbed young Curtis and tossed him into the portal. Curtis apparently came out, but he was never quite the same. The reason for that is... you know what, you should look at the Tomato in the Mirror entry below.
  • Dark Secret: Oh, man, do some characters in the game have them.
    • Curtis is led to believe that he's a murderer with no memory of his crimes. He's not, and he's not even aware of his actual dark secret. See the Tomato in the Mirror entry below.
    • Paul Allen Warner has plenty of these (i.e. Experimenting with a transdimensional portal, using asylum patients as guinea pigs and getting them killed off as part of the experiment, using his partner's own son as a guinea pig, using the portal as part of an illegal drug operation, killing people to cover it up, having Curtis Craig's father murdered, and the list seems to go on and on).
    • Doctor Marek tortured Curtis Craig in the asylum, and is also in cahoots with Paul Allen Warner, at least by sending his own patients to him as guinea pigs for the experiments.
    • Finally, the original Curtis Craig not only survived being used as a guinea pig for the experiments, but he turned into a monstrous murderer with psychic powers called the Hecatomb.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Curtis can be this if you want him to. On every email, there's a "Sarcastic" response option. Also, Trevor. Even the Hecatomb gets in on it now and then.
  • Dead Man Writing: Curtis's father's letter. The way it is found truly makes it qualify for "the message can end up in the hands of its intended recipient even under circumstances that can border on a post-mortem Gambit Roulette" part of the trope. As Spoony summed it up:
  • Depraved Bisexual: Therese is a dominatrix who regularly frequents an S&M club. Not so bad by itself, but otherwise she comes across as a complete nutcase. She stalks Curtis to make him her new lover and goes so far as to break into his apartment and install a bondage body harness in his bedroom without his prior consent while he was away. When he objects because he has a girlfriend (Jocilyn), Therese tells him that she's welcome too because she finds her a 'real cutie'.
  • Devil's Job Offer: Curtis Craig's computer becomes possessed and he starts to receive strange emails; one of them includes a job offer from hell's recruitment department. However, these are later revealed to be hallucinations.
  • Downer Ending: Whichever way you choose at the end, things turn out glum. Not that Curtis' life is a bundle of laughs to begin with.
    • Stay with Jocilyn, whom Curtis doesn't care all that much for. And Curtis slowly starts to turn into an alien horror as he does not belong in this world. The game's writer Lorelei Shannon softens this a bit into a Bittersweet Ending: Curtis isn't mutating, he's acquired Voluntary Shapeshifting powers as a result of interacting with his homeworld. But along with this new superpower, he'll never fit in with humanity, be tempted to use it for dark purposes, is probably struggling with sex addiction and various mental health issues, and will never be completely happy with Jocilyn.
    • Go live with the Starfish Aliens, which is implied to be a pretty grim fate.
  • Driven to Suicide: It's implied that Curtis's mother sub-consciously knew that Curtis was an unnatural imitation of her real son and that the conflicting emotions of love and revulsion drove her insane, causing her to torment the boy and finally kill herself.
  • Dwindling Party: The game starts off with a large number of characters. By the end of it, Curtis and Jocilyn are the only ones left standing.
  • Easter Egg: The game's chock full of them. You can make Curtis pick his nose, find minigames on your computer at work, make Batman show up in the psychiatrist's office and more. The game even keeps track of all the ones you've discovered.
  • End of an Age: This game would be the last Sierra game to use their famed SCI engine in its entirety. note 
  • Epiphany Therapy: Played with. Curtis goes to see a therapist about his problems. He ends up having several sessions with her. He even manages to recover repressed memories of the death of his father. However, the sessions do not cure him of his hallucinations. At the end of the game, he does find the source of his hallucinations and resolves it. Unfortunately, by that point, he may ended up worse off than he was before he went into therapy in some other ways.
  • Evil Phone: When you make Curtis call himself, that's what happens, and can also happen when Curtis calls other numbers.
  • Evil Is Visceral: The Hecatomb, the hallucinations he causes, the deaths he causes, his projection, and his real form, the original Curtis Craig. Everything about the Hecatomb defines this trope.
  • Evil Twin: Inverted; the game's main villain is the original Curtis Craig, the hero is an alien who has taken on his form.
  • Extradimensional Emergency Exit: During the climax, Curtis Craig finds himself stumbling into the basement lab where Wyntech keeps their interdimensional portal and being cornered, first by a gun-toting Paul Warner - and then by the Hecatomb himself. Rather than attempt to fight the heretofore unkillable villain, Curtis opts to activate the portal and fling himself into Dimension X... which is still pretty dangerous, but at least there are no immediate threats here.
  • Final-Exam Boss: Kind of. Near the end of the game, Curtis goes through numerous visions...or...whatever that involve practically every dead character and traumatic scene from Curtis's past. You better remember that clicking on people during suspenseful scenes often gets you killed, and that the best option is to do whatever it takes to get the hell out of there. (Except the first puzzle with the doctor; that's just "pick an object and hope it works", and the last puzzle, which flips it) Fortunately, unlike most Sierra games, Death Is a Slap on the Wrist in this game, allowing you to instantly retry from before you died - In fact, it's the only way to get the death scenes added to the movie viewer.
  • Flipping the Bird: Curtis does one to himself in the mirror for some reason. He can also give one behind Bob's back.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The original Curtis Craig. He started out as a young, innocent boy, got thrown into a transdimensional portal, was used as a guinea pig, and ended turning into the Hecatomb, a cannibalistic monster with psychic powers and a hunger for murder.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: At one point Bob puts a password on Curtis' work file. If Curtis confronts Bob before figuring it out, the cutscene has Curtis claim the file is missing, not password-protected.
  • Gay Best Friend: Trevor Barnes to Curtis.
  • Gayngst: Curtis outright admits to have this in one of his therapy sessions, confiding that he's attracted to Trevor as well as Jocilyn, and has polyamorous fantasies about the two of them.
  • Genre Shift: The first game was Gothic Horror; this one's Sci-Fi Horror.
  • Grand Theft Me: This is the goal the Hecatomb is trying to achieve with Curtis Craig. He is trying to drive Curtis into insanity, so that he can enter his broken mind and take over his body with little effort. This is because the Hecatomb is actually the original Curtis Craig, and he feels that the Curtis you played throughout the game stole his life and identity. The Hecatomb wants it back and he will do anything to get it.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Early on you have to show your coworkers your personal photos to progress.
    • The fact that you have to make Curtis check his mail early in the game. There's no indication that you need to do it, or that you even can.
    • There are multiple points in the story where you have to combine inventory items, which the instruction booklet doesn't even mention that you're capable of doing.
    • Presumably due to a bug, there's one point where you can only progress by right-clicking, something you don't need to do at any other point of the game, when left-clicking should have worked. (You can use a right click at any time in the game, but it does the same as a left click.) According to a mailing list maintained by the developers while the game was in production, the right-click puzzle is intentional. They actually thought that having a right-click do something exactly one time in the game was a clever idea. (There is a very oblique hint implying that this was meant as a kind of Interface Screw)
    • And then there's turning on the control panel at the end, which may very well be one of the least intuitive puzzle in adventure game history. It's a bunch of completely random shapes in various colors, only some of which are clickable without any rhyme or reason, and the whole time you're clicking around you have no idea what your ultimate goal is. It's particularly bad because up until this point, the only real "puzzles" you had to deal with were clicking objects on people until they stopped giving you dialogue.
  • Going Through the Motions: The waiter at the Dreaming Tree sure seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time working on receipts, doesn't he?
  • Have a Nice Death: If you die, the voice of the Hecatomb mocks you.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: The aliens in the Alien World that Paul Allen Warner had been communicating with. You only get to hear a voice from one of them, but you never actually get to see any of them. Which is weird, because you actually go into the Alien World. The author says the little alien tools Curtis screws around with are the Dimension X aliens. Just too alien for humans to recognize as sapient. This is never spelled out directly in-game.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Powell, who expresses her disgust at Curtis and Therese's "strange way" of showing affection through bondage and pain.
  • Hospital Gurney Scene: The beginning of the game starts with this. Curtis is the patient being wheeled in and being given electric shocks with Dr. Marek looking on and telling him "You're having a psychotic episode". All this is to show that Curtis Craig is not a well man. However, there is more to the story than that. Curtis, years later, has a flashback revealing that he was put in the mental institution and strapped to a wheelchair. He has no idea how or why he ended up in both positions. No one will tell him anything and he is unable to connect to anybody there. So he causes a distraction, unstraps himself from the wheelchair, and runs for it. Unfortunately, he gets caught by Dr. Marek and some orderlies. Doctor Marek says "Curtis! You've been a bad boy! Now I have to punish you!" Then the flashback shows the Hospital Gurney Scene, and Fridge Horror sets in when you realize that they were not trying to help Curtis, but were subjecting him to Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • In Name Only: Phantasmagoria was imagined by Sierra as a kind of Horror Anthology Series. This game's story is therefore almost completely detached from the one in the original Phantasmagoria. There is exactly one reference to the first game, and it is not plot critical in any way. Both games do have some things in common. Both protagonists see disturbing visions, and both of them have to contend with a monster at the end of the game. There were early plans for a third game, with yet another protagonist, and vampires (The idea would later be floated as a possible storyline for Gabriel Knight 3). Originally, each game was to be a different kind of horror, going from "Demonic" to "Body Horror" to "Classical Monsters".
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Curtis' attempts to deny that he is insane make him seem all the more nutty.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Played with. A good example is when Curtis finds a tiny room with a locked door at WynTech. He manages to get in there. There is a filing cabinet in there. Curtis gets a toolbox out of there. The toolbox turns out to contain a dress, a letter from Paul Allen Warner, and letter from Curtis' father. Later on, Curtis finds the room sealed off, and concludes that "They're hiding something!" Curtis shows the letter to his therapist, but the therapist is apparently not convinced that there is any conspiracy.
  • Jerkass:
    • Bob, to the extreme. "Stealing files" is the worst Curtis accuses him of when the detective asks him what Bob did to wrong him, but Bob straight-up sabotages Curtis's computer and was preparing to brick his entire hard drive when he got murdered. Mind you, Curtis did not even get to find out what Bob was doing in his cubicle, which is why "stealing files" was his worst accusation.
    • Curtis. As you go through the game it's really hard to feel sorry for him at all. He cheats on Jocilyn with Therese and tries to cover it up, withholds evidence and obstructs justice, and proves to be no better than Paul Allen Warner in that area.
    • Detective Powell. As detailed under Police Are Useless, she is terrible and unprofessional at her job as well as a very vicious, unsympathetic individual overall, harassing Curtis with no actual proof just because he acts strangely. One can not really blame Curtis for obstructing justice if the main police unit involved in the case is this awful and incompetent.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Curtis after Jocilyn says he's acting weird following Bob's murder. He says, "Oh, I'm sorry, Joss. I guess finding disemboweled dead guys in my cubicle just throws me right the fuck off."
  • Karma Houdini: Doctor Marek, the man who put Curtis through at least a year of torture, and was apparently in league with Paul Warner, only gets his comeuppance in a dream-like scenario; the real one goes unpunished.
  • Kavorka Man: Curtis, as mentioned is decidedly attractive to all the characters despite being ridiculously plain in both appearance and personality. This is apparently a new development, since he's just as confused at everyone he knows suddenly coming on to him as the audience.
  • Lack of Empathy:
    • Curtis most certainly has this. He compares the death of Bob Arnold as road-kill found on the road. He also admits to his therapist that he truly feels no connection to people. He apparently considers his pet rat Blob to be his only family. There are reasons for this, however. That, and he does have moments of actual empathy.
    • Paul Allen Warner. Just about every scene involving him in some way demonstrates this trope in disturbing ways. One particularly creepy example takes place shortly after Bob's murder. If Curtis goes back into WynTech, he will find PAW working in his office. That's right, PAW is working in his office, on the heels of a gruesome murder, one that took place in the cubicle farm next to his office, and one that caused trauma to a large number of his employees and leave work for the rest of the day. Is that awful or what?
  • Limited Wardrobe: Curtis seems to wear the same grey pocket-T every day.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Curtis is most certainly a loner, and at home he treats a pet rat named Blob like the only member of his family. He has a few friends in the workplace, like Jocilyn and Trevor. It turns out that he has reasons for living like this. This trope becomes a problem for Curtis when Detective Powell questions him about where he was when a murder happened. He tries to explain that he spent the night in his home with Therese. Unfortunately, he is unable to tell her where Therese lives because he does not know that. Also, he does not want to explain to her that Therese broke into his home and he not only did nothing about it, but he engaged in bondage sex with her. Detective Powell can tell (maybe) that Curtis is a loner and she is convinced that he is serial killer because he is a loner.
  • Mad Scientist: Curtis's father was this and so was Paul Allen Warner. However, Curtis's father apparently became a Reluctant Mad Scientist after PAW threw Curtis into a dimensional portal.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Just like in the original, there are no ways to lose until the endgame, but there are quite a few cutscenes for "deaths" there depending on where you screwed up.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Paul Allen Warner - PAW. Warner raised Curtis and paid for all his schooling and the like after Jonas Craig died, using WynTech money as a sort of apology.
    • Phantasmagoria, believe it or not is an actual word that has two definitions - 1. A series of events involving rapid changes in light intensity and colour. 2. A dreamlike state where real and imagined elements are blurred together.
    • Hecatomb is also an actual word that has two definitions - 1. In ancient Greece or Rome, a great feast and public sacrifice to the gods, originally of a hundred oxen. 2. Hence loosely, any great sacrifice; a great number of people, animals or things; a large amount.
  • Mind Rape: The hallucinations Curtis Craig experiences throughout the game turn out to be this. They are being caused by the Hecatomb, a creature that has the powers of telepathy and telekinesis.
  • Mind Screw: This seems to have been what the developers were going for to an extent.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The very first puzzle of the game involves Curtis trying to retrieve his wallet from underneath his sofa. He could just move the sofa aside or lift it up...or he can just grab his pet rat, get her to go in there and grab the wallet, and then coax her back out with a granola bar. Yep.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on whether or not the clone Curtis returns to his home dimension.
  • Mythology Gag: At one point, Curtis gets an announcement in his mail about Adrienne Delaney's newest book. Considering the book is titled "Coping With Loss", it's clear the events from the first game really took a toll on her.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: A variation of this occurs near the end of the game. Curtis is in WynTech and he is looking at e-mail messages on one of the computers. One is from Trevor Barnes, who simply says to forget about WynTech. That's right, Trevor could not even be bothered to explain why in his message. Sure, he explained why to Curtis in an isolated room WynTech, but it's a little too late for that by then, isn't it?
  • Nice Guy: Tom Ravell, who is the only one of Curtis' coworkers apart from the somewhat-irritating Jocilyn who doesn't verbally abuse him, stalk him, conduct evil experiments with an interdimensional portal, or waste his time with a pointless story about potatoes.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Curtis Craig is simply a prime example of what not to do when a serial killer runs loose. He barges into a crime scene Detective Powell is investigating, he finds evidence that he does not hand over, and he acts hostile to Detective Powell when he should be trying to explain to her why he is not the murderer she thinks he is. He is not a murderer, but the Hecatomb is one. Too bad Curtis would have had a hard time proving that anyway.
  • Obviously Evil: Paul. Allen. Warner. If you can't figure out he's evil in some way within the first minute of meeting him, you're not exactly a good judge of character. This is apparent even before he's introduced:
    1. He casually dismisses the environmental damage caused to a species of fish in the company's efforts to get needed ingredients for drugs in an email message.
    2. He gives a cover story for the lower levels of the building being restricted and he backpedals in an email message - "We are trying to keep you out, I mean in!" (Strange, you would think that you cannot backpedal in an email message).
    3. Curtis calls Paul Allen Warner on the phone to let him know that he completed an assignment, and Curtis is told "Well done, my boy! Well done! I am going to keep my eye on you!" (PAW says this in a rather creepy way).
    4. Curtis goes into PAW's office and finds a lot of mounted animals on the wall (Which is creepy, because why would anyone want to mount animals on the walls of his or her company office?).
    5. Curtis remembers how he heard Paul Allen Warner yell "I'll kill you, you son of a bitch!" to someone who is imploring him to stop doing something that's obviously immoral.
    • To reiterate — All these examples take place at the beginning of the game before you actually meet the guy. And after you do he spends the entire game acting as suspicious, creepy, and sinister as possible, stopping just short of regularly breaking into diabolical laughter.
  • Only Sane Man: Surprisingly, Trevor. He's a pretty efficient hacker and, at the game's climax, tells Curtis he needs to get the hell out of WynTech. Why he decided to wait around in the highly isolated store room just to tell Curtis not to go to WynTech is another matter though... If he had just gone to the police before that, the outcome of the game might have turned out better.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Therese gets an odd foreign accent on a few lines. The actress' real name is (according to The Other Wiki) Ragna Sigrun, which is Icelandic. So presumably that's her real accent slipping in through her put-on American accent.
  • Pain Mistaken for Sex: When Therese is being murdered in the bathroom of the S&M club, a few of the other patrons hear her screams. They think she's having sex with someone so decide to ignore her, as she's apparently known to use the bathroom for hookups (having previously done so with the protagonist).
  • Parental Abandonment: Curtis' mother killed herself and his father was murdered.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish":
    • Curtis's password on his work computer is "Blob", the name of his pet rat whom he constantly fawns over and has a huge framed photograph of on his desk. Yeah, that's not obvious at all.
    • His boss isn't much better, making the top-secret classified files about interdimensional travel not only available on the company server, but the passwords to access them are words and phrases that anyone snooping around his office would come across. For example, the password "Carpediem" is on a wall plaque, while "Rosetta Stone" is in a book about passwords and secret codes and is pointedly highlighted.
    • At one point early in the game, Bob steals the file you were working on and password-locks you out of it. The password? "Ratboy", the insulting nickname he's been calling you by the whole time.
  • Phone Call from the Dead: Throughout the game Curtis will receive various post-mortem messages (phone calls, letters, e-mails) from both his dead mother and his various murdered coworkers, who call him a monster for causing their deaths. The ending reveals them all to be hallucinations sent by the Hecatomb in an attempt to drive Curtis insane.
  • Point-and-Click Game
  • Police Are Useless: Initially averted, but quickly played straight to the point of being painful to watch. The only time you see the police in action after Bob's murder is Detective Powell, who is not a credit to the force for many reasons including the following:
    1. She allows Paul Allen Warner to get his office back to work the day after the murders, ruining the crime scene, and all she does in threaten him with an obstruction of justice, no actual action is taken.
    2. She latches onto Curtis as her prime suspect with absolutely no evidence aside from he acts a bit weird and suspicious, ignoring the idea his odd behavior may have something to do with his cubical being the site of a horrific murder. She also questions him alone every time despite being convinced he's a homicidal maniac.
    3. She lets Curtis know he's her prime suspect and intimidates him with a warning that if she finds any shred of evidence to point to him, she's locking him up. She then never puts him under surveillance of any sort, or does any sort of actual interrogation.
    4. After Tom is killed, Curtis told her he overheard Paul Allen Warner and Tom arguing about Warner forcing everyone to come in to work the day after Bob's murder, the argument including Warner threatening Tom's life, and he suspects a company conspiracy is to blame for the killings. She never even considers the possibility he may be on to something. Hell, it's almost as if she deliberately refuses to consider it purely because Curtis is the one who said it.
  • Polyamory: Curtis confesses in one of his therapy sessions to having feelings for both Trevor and Jocilyn, and wishing that he could be in a happy relationship with both of them.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Curtis hears Paul Allen Warner issue a death threat to Tom, and Curtis does not even try to warn Tom that the last time he heard Paul Allen Warner issue the same death threat to somebody, that somebody ended up dead. Indeed, Curtis fails to tell several characters details that they might need to know.
  • Power of Love: When Curtis gets a hallucination of his mother preparing to kill him, he goes up to her and hugs her, saying "I love you, Mom!" She breaks down and cries. The hallucination wears off, and the Hecatomb projection starts falling apart and decaying. This gives Curtis the opportunity to pull off the Hecatomb's breath mask, causing the Hecatomb to die.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Dr. Marek is a complete psycho running a hellish Bedlam House where he tortures his patients. He's also in league with a Corrupt Corporate Executive and merrily sacrifices his patients to be consumed by interdimensional aliens. He also bugged his colleague Dr. Harburg's phone to keep tabs on Curtis.
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Curtis, courtesy of the powers of the Kavorka Man, sleeps with both Jocilyn and Therese, starts visiting a bondage/swingers club with the latter, and has his best friend Trevor declare his undying love for him although Trevor dies before their relationship can become physical.
    • Therese as well, being a frequent patron of an S&M club in town.
  • Red Herring: There are several alien creatures collected by Curtis in Dimension X, though one of them selves no purpose and it disappears once he's doing the circuit board puzzle or is in the human world.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Curtis is an alien who has shapeshifted into the form of the real Curtis, who has been trapped in fake!Curtis' home dimension.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Curtis. At least in the first part of the game.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: This seems to be part of the Hecatomb's motivation for killing WynTech employees and other people connected to Curtis. He apparently feels Unstoppable Rage over the fact that an alien took his life and identity in his place. Too bad he blames the alien for ruining his life and not Paul Allen Warner, who threw him into the Alien World in the first place.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Both of the women Curtis works with. Although Therese is more...extreme about it. Jocilyn certainly is this trope. Here is why: when she finds out Curtis cheated on her with Therese, she yells at him and runs off. She vanishes and stays that way until the end of the game. At the end, she shows up out of thin air to talk to Curtis and somehow found out the truth about his being a Tomato in the Mirror. Curtis was doing just fine without her, by the way. How is Jocilyn able to appear and disappear, as well as find out answers is not explained. In fact, questions like that most certainly fall under Fridge Logic.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Trevor's legendary potato story, not to mention some of those inane emails. The potato story is especially weird, occurring as it does fairly late in the game and therefore fairly far into Curtis' apparent breakdown. You wouldn't think that it'd be the appropriate time for him to sit and listen Trevor ramble on about rabbits, but apparently it is.
    Crunch bird, my ass!
  • Serial Killer: The Hecatomb. He kills people connected to Curtis out of rage, enjoyment, and revenge. He is also killing people to get to Curtis. He does not try to kill Curtis because he needs him alive so that he can take over his body. There are implications that Bob Arnold was not his first victim. Oh, and the Hecatomb is also a human that has developed mind powers that can reach from one dimension to the other and has essentially become a supernatural monster.
  • Sex Signals Death: Strangely enough, averted by Jocilyn, who is the only one of Curtis' coworkers who survive to the end, despite them doing it on the first disc. Played straight, however, with Therese.
  • Shirtless Scene: Curtis spends an entire scene talking to Detective Powell shirtless when she visits him at his apartment. This isn't for fanservice; Curtis is exactly as pale and skinny as you'd expect a computer nerd to be. It's just so Powell can comment on the scars left on his chest by Therese after they had bondage sex.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The game makes references to Psycho (the Norman Bates Hotel), and Hannibal Lector.
    • The message Curtis gets from the Hecatomb that simply says "SOON" (a threatening note that tries to not sound threatening, which is short for "I WILL COME AND KILL YOU SOON"), is comparable to a scene from I Know What You Did Last Summer.
    • Wyntech's security director (named in emails) is Ed Gein, the real life inspiration for killers as diverse as Norman Bates, Leatherface, and Buffalo Bill. With him in charge, it's probably no wonder Wyntech faces a slew of murders.
    • Both Beavis and Butt-Head and The X-Files get referenced by name.
    • The end credits song "Rage" has the line "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are in my head and screaming".
  • The Shrink: Dr. Harburg.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Bob.... He's a rival employee of Curtis, both dislike each other, and they're simply fighting over a promotion at work. It is such a pity that Bob found out in the hardest way possible that he was not in a sitcom.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Played straight. Social services is not even mentioned. If a social worker had any idea what Curtis Craig's parents were doing to him and that both of them are somehow dead, he or she would have had Curtis removed at once.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: At one point, the game won't let you progress until you pick up a completely innocuous loose button on the floor to use in another, later scene.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Therese Banning.
    Curtis: Do you break into people's apartments often?
    Therese: No. Only when I really like them.
  • "Staying Alive" Dance Pose: The asylum inmate who spouts out weird lines when talked to can attempt doing the pose with his finger lifted and shouting "DISCO DANCE!"
  • Starfish Aliens: Literally. The residents of Dimension X, who all resemble invertebrate sea life. Word of God says they have a Hive Mind and communicate via biochemical reactions such as combining or dividing.
  • Straight Gay: Trevor exists somewhere between Camp Gay and Straight Gay. He's got all the speech patterns and mannerisms you'd expect from a gay guy in fiction, but they're subdued enough that he doesn't quite count as camp.
  • Talkative Loon: The other patients in the asylum scenes.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Why, our protagonist Mr. Curtis Craig, of course! He's quite the apple of many of his co-workers eyes at his job, and it isn't that hard to see why.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Our first unsubtle hint about Curtis' evil boss: all the animal heads in his office!
  • Television Geography: The game uses a section of the real map of Seattle for the travel interface. However, in reality the area it shows is all sparsely built suburban region, not the dense downtown the game locations show. Additionally, the game gives an address for Curtis's home which is a real address in Seattle, but it also is not located in the section of the map the game uses.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Curtis is actually an extradimensional alien. The real Curtis never left the alien dimension, and has mutated and developed psychic powers to torment the clone Curtis with past dimensional barriers.
  • The Chew Toy: Curtis Craig is either this or The Woobie. You decide!
  • Themed Cursor: The most frequently used cursor is the Wyntech logo.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, a major part of the game is Curtis going to therapy when the murders begin and he starts hallucinating. However, his therapist is quite possibly the most useless therapist in the history of psychotherapy and generally just sits and nods while he talks about his massive amounts of childhood trauma, sexual issues, and slow descent towards insanity. Then she lets him walk out of her office right before she records notes on how she believes he is paranoid, delusional, and has the potential for violent behavior.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: All the main character deaths are really over-the-top brutal.
  • This Loser Is You: The game flip-flops on this with Curtis. On one hand, almost the entire office has the hots for him (maybe even Bob if you believe what his actor has to say about the character,) but on the other hand he's still a geeky loser and The Chew Toy, regular referred to as "Rat Boy."
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Curtis frequently experiences scary or gory hallucinations throughout the game, and he wonders whether he's finally gone insane, leading the player to wonder exactly what is real in the story. They're actually visions that the Hecatomb aka the real Curtis Craig placed in alien Curtis's head to make him lose his mind.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Tom Revell goes into WynTech to type up a report of Paul Allen Warner's conduct, so he can send it to the Board of Directors and take down PAW. This would be fine, except he is all alone in the cubicle farm in the middle of the night. One would think he would take precautions after a murder occurred across the room a day earlier and PAW told him "YOU ARE A DEAD MAN!" But no, he did not.
  • Tortured Monster: The Hecatomb turns out to be the original Curtis Craig, sacrificed to the aliens by Paul Allen Warner. He has been encased in their organic matter and mutated to the point that his organs are outside his body and he will die if his biomask is removed. In his torment he uses his psychic powers to lash out at everyone he can and tries to drive alien Curtis to madness for inadvertently stealing his life.
  • Try Everything: There's a lot of times, especially in the end game in Dimension X where you pretty much solve puzzles by clicking every item you have on something. Entertaining enough when done on people, as they'll usually offer up an optional FMV, not so entertaining when done on objects. Especially bad when you have to enter the cubicle farm, sit through a cutscene of Detective Powell yelling at you to get out of the crime scene - which you then must immediately re-enter. She just stays in the cubicle though, which is the actual crime scene. If you try to enter that particular cubical again, she'll throw you out, but entering the other ones is fine, because Curtis quietly opens the door the second time he goes in, being sure to not alert her.
  • Tsundere: Believe it or not, Bob may actually be this towards Curtis, according to his actor (he was just in extreme tsuntsun mode out of denial for his possible feelings for him.)
  • Two First Names: Curtis Craig.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Curtis gets one after having terribly creepy hallucinogenic bondage sex with Therese, with scratch marks and bumps all across his chest.
  • Was Once a Man: The Hecatomb. Would you believe that a human being ended up becoming a monster that only has a few human-like characteristics?
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Hecatomb is revealed to be the original Curtis Craig, thrown into the alien world when he was young by PAW and forced to grow up in a hostile alien dimension. He wants to destroy alien Curtis and kill his friends out of revenge.
  • Wrongly Accused: A detective starts to suspect that Curtis is a murderer. Curtis is not really sure himself. The strange thing about it is that she's right, From a Certain Point of View. The murders were pulled off by Curtis Craig; the real one, not the alien construct you control throughout the game.
  • Yandere: Jocilyn in one of Curtis' visions, where she pulls a gun on Curtis so that if she can't have him, no one will.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Played with.
    • Curtis finds evidence of a conspiracy. He does not even turn over the evidence to the cops. In fact, there is only one cop he interacts with. On his side, he acts like some raving loony to her. On her side, she dimisses his claims, does not even try to investigate them, and clearly thinks he is full of it and worse. He also tries to communicate his findings to his therapist and even shows her some concrete evidence. His therapist thinks that he is paranoid, delusional, prone to psychotic episodes and has some capacity for violence. To be fair, he was certainly acting hysterical towards her at some points. His therapist does believe his claims in the end when she discovers her phone is bugged. Unfortunately, the Hecatomb kills her off shortly afterwards.
    • Another example is when Curtis finds his therapist dead, and he sees a vision of the Hecatomb. A spooked security guard bursts in. Curtis says "Get it! Get that thing!" and points at the vision. The guard sees nothing and motions to Curtis to move to another part of the room. It is implied that the guard heard the doctor's death screams on her phone. The guard thinks that Curtis not only did something to the doctor, but that Curtis is out of his mind.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Actually subverted; Warner survives this attempt, and ends up having his decapitated head attached to a series of tendrils in the alien dimension. The way Curtis looks over at him at the end implies Curtis put him through the portal.

Alternative Title(s): Phantasmagoria 2