A Puzzle of Thoughts

I was recently thinking about Phantasmagoria: a puzzle of flesh. Which I played in High School, so it's stretching the memory a bit. It isn't a game I'd ever recommend, by the way, but there were some aspects of it I found interesting. It is a far more mental story than the first Phantasmagoria game. And it was brave enough to explore abuse, mental illness and its treatment, bisexuality, and S&M. I had some admiration for a game attempting so many difficult themes, though ultimately it really disappoints.

If you don't want spoilers for a old, not terribly good adventure game then stop reading now.

At the time, I didn't understand the ending. After exploring a relatively serious real-world setting, we suddenly find ourselves in a brightly-coloured, alien landscape. I assumed this was part of the main character's hallucinations, which had been getting worse throughout the game. But it was still very jarring.

Having read some online interviews, I now know that this was supposed to be because the protagonist actually was an alien, and that was why he had such difficulty fitting in on earth. He was attracted to both male and female because, as an alien, he was neither. I was sickened when I found this out. To include themes like sexuality and mental illness, and then to explain these differences as being something other than human? Very insulting and saddening.

I wouldn't normally be this blatant... but seriously, fuck that for a plotline.

By coincidence, when I was thinking about this, a friend linked this real-world story of someone's experience in a mental institution. This reminded me that their are much worse, real-world things to get enraged about.

The authour of a Puzzle of Flesh was right about one thing. Madness is still one of our greatest fears. And people can be truly horrible when faced with things they are afraid of.