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Is There A Rape Scene In Phantasmagoria?

I wouldn't have predicted this, but my Phantasmagoria review page has already resulted in two emails asking me this question. Apparently the story that there was rape in this computer game made it into the mainstream media somewhere and there are a lot of people out there wondering if it's true or not.

So, okay, first the straightforward answer: There certainly is an abusive sex scene in Phantasmagoria, between the main character and her husband. It's one of the cutscenes, not something the player had any control over. The scene wasn't graphic thanks to the camera angle, but it's quite obvious the couple are having sex. Adrienne (the main character) seemed receptive at first, but then her husband, Don, got rough with her and she started crying "Stop, you're hurting me." He didn't stop; laughed at her, as I recall, and left her crying on the bathroom floor afterwards. An unpleasant scene, in other words. Was it rape? I didn't think so at the time--I never got the impression that she didn't want to have sex with Don, just that she didn't want him to be abusive during sex. A semantic point, no doubt, but important to the plot: if Adrienne wasn't genuinely in love with Don, there'd be no reason for her to stick around trying to save his soul. She wants to be his wife, she just doesn't want him, you know, turning insane and evil. Which he's in the process of doing. It is a horror flick, after all.

Either way, though, it was a pretty unpleasant scene, and this is not a game for kids (it also involves several disgusting murders, demonic possession, and an unhappy ending). However, I'd also like to take this opportunity to defend Phantasmagoria for a second here: this abusive sex scene was not condoned by the game, not by any stretch of the imagination. The main character the players are identifying with is the victim of the abuse, not the abuser. The abuser is the villain of the game, who is also incidentally possessed by Satan. They really couldn't have made it clearer that this was an evil act if they put a big flashing neon sign above Don's head saying "Evil! Evil!" There are lots of things to blame this game for--its tepid plot, awful acting, substitution of gross goriness for actual suspense--but the encouragement of spousal abuse is not one of them.

Hopefully that will lay things to rest. Peace. (-:

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