Adrienne hopes to find an inspiration for her next novel in her new home, but starts having nightmares immediately upon moving in. Adrienne explores the estate, making mysterious discoveries like strange music, warnings written on her computer, and ominous messages from a fortune-teller automaton.
Unbeknownst to the happy couple, Carno had practiced black magic when he previously lived in the mansion and had summoned an evil demon that possessed him and caused him to murder his wives.
The user interface is a screen surrounded by a stone border, with buttons and eight inventory slots along the bottom.
Adrienne can only hold eight items at once, and each black slot can contain an image of an item that the user can click on to retrieve or use within the game.
According to Arinn Dembo from Computer Gaming World, the game is focused more around the story and the frightening atmosphere, rather than on a difficult gaming experience, and therefore the puzzles are relatively easy, logical, and straightforward.
Successful mystery novelist Adrienne Delaney (Victoria Morsell) and her photographer husband Don Gordon (David Homb) have just purchased a remote mansion off the coast of a small New England island previously owned by a famous 19th-century magician, Zoltan "Carno" Carnovasch (Robert Miano), whose five wives all died mysteriously.
Phantasmagoria is a point-and-click adventure game that features live-action actors and cinematic footage, both during scenes between the gameplay and within the three-dimensional rendered environments of the game itself.
the player controls protagonist Adrienne Delaney, who is always on the screen.
During her exploration of the grounds, Adrienne finds a secret chapel hidden behind a bricked off fireplace.
After opening a locked box atop an altar, Adrienne unknowingly releases Carno's demon, which promptly possesses Don.
Objects in the game can be picked up by clicking on them or interacting with them in a film sequence, after which the item automatically goes into the inventory.