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About the Story
You're trapped in a terrifying amusement park... can you find the means to escape?
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Number of Reviews: 2
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I'm happy to report that Phantom of the Arcade 2 is a dramatic improvement over its predecessor in a number of ways. The writing, although not grammatically perfect, is much stronger and evokes the atmosphere well. The puzzles are still quite simple, but they require a little more thought than in the previous instalment.
The intro to POTA2 drew me in suddenly. It was enjoyable and clever and, as a matter of fact, made me laugh. The player finds himself in the backstage of a theatre, looking for costumes to use for a Halloween party. Something unexpected occurs and the next thing he knows, he is in an abandoned amusement park. He must collect a list of items to make his way back out.
The plot is simple, but what more could one expect? The intent of the game is fulfilled well--it's a fun, spooky romp. Tongue is placed firmly in cheek here, and stays that way--another improvement over the original. This game uses the convention of room descriptions that tell some of the story the first time they are entered, often requiring a second "look" to get the basic description. While this may not always be the wisest approach to IF design, it works well here. This method was only responsible for two flaws that accidently revealed minor plot elements before they had happened, but they weren't crucial. On the downside, there were many unimplemented nouns in the room descriptions which made the game seem a little unfinished. When examining scenery, I would rather see "you see nothing special about the [item]" than "you can't see any such thing"--especially when it is staring me in the face!
There is one NPC, largely unimplemented, but for some reason I didn't mind. The way she is used works well. It is possible to finish the game successfully, but with two different outcomes. What those outcomes are, I'll keep secret, but if you find that you haven't finished to your satisfaction, there may be something else you can do.
There is also one interesting bug at the very very end, which lets you rack up an unlimited score. But the game is over by then, so it doesn't impact on the story.
On the whole, I enjoyed this spook-fest considerably more than its predecessor. Don't expect any purple prose in this one: it is light fare to be sure, but if you like spooky, haunted settings, as do I, this one might be worth a try.
POTA2 has many compelling elements -- a creepy atmosphere, a believable plot, a snarky narrator, and a dash of humor; however it also features features missing punctuation, erroneous game messages, profanity, a bare-bones implementation, and a throw-away ending. The result is a playable, moderately enjoyable game that fizzles out at the end.
As far as the atmosphere goes, horror often needs moments that release tension so that it doesn't become unbearable; POTA2 provides those points in just the right amounts (for example, note the name of the Ferris wheel contrasted with the rest of its description). The plot is basic, but functional and believable, but the main puzzle is thrown off-kilter by the uneven scoring system. I thought that the game was much larger than it turned out being due to that alone; a third or more of the points result from one action at the very end of the game. And speaking of that action, a false message leads you to believe that there's another item you have to find, when that is not the case.
The implementation's bare-boned nature also misleads you into thinking that there are more tasks to complete; in an absence of guidance, you're left to experiment endlessly with no clue as to whether you're on the right path or not. This encourages you to waste time on red herrings and not use certain items for their intended purposes. Even those intended purposes are not obvious because they are, in at least one instance, a stretch.
The ending came as a complete surprise, and an unwelcome surprise at that. Apparently winning involves making a certain choice at the beginning of the game in an area which you cannot get back to in order to do something that is wholly unethical -- in short, something which I would never have thought to do, and which would be out of character for the PC.
On the whole, POTA2 initially tastes good, but leaves you with a bad aftertaste, much like a diet soda on a hot day.
Phantom of the Arcade 2: Shadows, Darkness, and Dread on IFDB
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This is version 4 of this page, edited by Zape on 4 May 2021 at 10:42pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item