Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 06/23/02 | Genre: Survival Horror
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem was scheduled to be a launch title when the GameCube released in November of 2001. However, Silicon Knights decided to delay the title so they could perfect the camera angles and add a few more small touches to the title. While the wait has been long, now that I have had a chance to play Eternal Darkness, I must say I am impressed. How impressed am I? If you don't already own a Cube, this title might warrant a purchase of the system.
ED begins with the player controlling a young girl named Alexandra Roivas. She has to come to her grandfather's house to identify the remains of his body. Not satisfied with the results of the police investigation, Alexandra begins searching her grandfather's house to find any clues that might lead to answering why and how her grandfather was killed. Without giving away very much of the story, Alexandra will discover a book that will lead the player through several different times zones in an epic plot. Each time zone is played out in a different chapter within the game and allows you to control a different character. While the story seems very confusing at first, in the end, all loose ends are tied up and things will make sense.
Originally, Eternal Darkness was set to appear on the Nintendo 64. Even though Silicon Knights had the game practically finished, Nintendo held them up and convinced them that this would make a perfect GameCube title. (Nintendo also did this with Dinosaur planet--which Rare has transformed into the amazing Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet--set for release this fall.) While many graphical changes have been made to Eternal Darkness in its move from the Nintendo 64 to the GameCube, some N64 elements remain. For example, during the cinematic scenes, the skin of the characters is very blocky looking and not as realistic as it could have been. Several other textures in the game also appear to be low quality. It appears that these textures were left over from the nearly complete N64 version. At first this really turned me off from the game--but I soon looked past these flaws due to some minor graphical tweaks discovered while playing. For example, when playing as Alexandra (or any of the other characters), when walking, the character will turn their head and look at an object they can interact with. Also, long hair will swing back in forth when walking. There are also several places where lights flicker and show off some of the great lighting effects the GameCube is capable of. However, one of the most impressive features of Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is the very short load times. When the game first loads up or when you load a game, the title will take a few moments to load up. However, once the game begins, the load times are non-existent--even when loading up the cinematic sequences! Also, Resident Evil fans will be pleased to hear that when opening a door or going into another room--there are no load times that show a door being opened!
Speaking of Resident Evil fans, most of the people familiar with the series are very aware of the horrible voice acting. Fear not! In Eternal Darkness, the voices are great. Each character has their own unique voice and they are definitely up to the high standards Nintendo demands. One of my favorite things about the voice acting is when a new chapter begins in a different era with people who speak a different language. As the chapter begins, you will hear the characters speaking in their native tongue with subtitles appearing below. After a few moments of this, they shift into speaking English and the subtitles go away. (You can turn the subtitles on all the time via the options menu if you wish).
One of the most intriguing features of Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is a green sanity meter. When playing through the game, you will encounter many strange events and unusual creatures. As you face these events, your sanity meter will lower. When this meter empties completely, you will begin to see things and hallucinate--further drawing you in to believe that you have become insane. What kind of things can happen? So far, the character you are controlling will begin to scream and talk to themselves saying "I can't believe this is happening..." "What is going on???" At other points, when you start to go insane, the camera angle will turn slightly off center and keep moving more to the side as you lose more sanity. When you begin to go insane and try to leave a room, the game appears to turn off and may even force you back into the room full of enemies you were trying to flee from. The Insanity Meter is a very cool feature and it will do many strange things to you. However, I don't want to spoil all the fun in discovering them for yourself! Just remember, when strange things start to happen, you must ask yourself, am I going insane along with my character?
Developers Silicon Knights have really gone all out to spoil gamers in the sound department. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem has full support of Dolby Surround Sound if you have the necessary equipment to use it. However, if you don't, the sound and music is still excellent without the surround sound. Using the Altec Lansing XA3021, I was quite impressed with how rich the music was and how eerie the sound effects were. In fact, I usually have to stop playing after a few hours because the music and sound effects begin to scare you. Unless you are very brave or just enjoy being scared, do not play Eternal Darkness at home alone when it is dark... you have been warned...
Have you ever wanted to cut your enemies into little pieces? If so, in Eternal Darkness, your dreams have been answered and you won't have to be locked up for the rest of your life for murder. Using a very unique combat system, players can take their weapon of choice (normally some sort of sword) and aim for the head, left arm, right arm, or chest of their enemies. To do this all you must do is hold down the R button. This will lock your player in one place and then by moving the analog stick, you will then be able to aim for the desired location via a white highlight over the part you are aiming for. Once everything is in place, hit A and you will attempt to swing at the desired body part. If you find yourself surrounded by multiple enemies, slightly lift up on the R button and then quickly "click it" down again. You will switch to the next closest enemy so you can attack a specific body part on their body. Most of the time, I found that it was very helpful to knock the heads off enemies first. After this was done, some enemies may begin to fight each other until you go and finish them off.
Other controls in ED include running by holding down the L button, sneaking with the X button, talking to other characters and interacting with the environment with the B button, and all other buttons utilize a Magick system you get to use later in the game. This magic system is fairly complex and gives you the chance to create your own Magick spells after locating different runes and information on creating a new spell. Once a spell has been created, you can then map it to any of the remaining buttons on the controller.
I don't know about your, but Resident Evil's puzzles got to be really old after a while. While some of the same types of puzzles are included in Eternal Darkness, you will find that they are less obtrusive and actually correspond to the plot. For example, you will have to light and extinguish several different sets of candles to open some doors. These candles are spoken about within the level and you actually can figure out what to do based on how closely you monitor your surroundings. While there are several different types of puzzles, I really don't want to ruin them for you. During my playing time with ED, the more surprises I had, the more fun I was having.
There is only one difficulty level in Eternal Darkness although I have found that in several chapters, I barely escaped with any life left. Depending on how you handle a situation, you may not live to continue on. Before just "jumping" into danger and confronting it head on, look for an alternative way to get involved in combat so you won't have to worry about dying and having to continue from your prior save. I found this out the hard way running into a room full of monsters and trying to destroy them all. However, because I did not think about my actions, I ended up getting cornered in a wall and eaten alive.
If you do need to stop playing, ED allows for you to save in any room where there are no enemies or dangerous events occurring. While at first I was not accustomed to saving my game manually, I have found that this system works much better than an automatic saving system. Be prepared to save often and you won't have to worry if "disaster strikes."
If you like stories deep and confusing, this is the game for you. Eternal Darkness tells its tale of terror throughout the centuries in the shoes of multiple characters each with their own unique attire, weapons, accent, and feel. For example, in the beginning you start out as Alexandra and soon after you will move into the sandals of Pious Augustus. Augustus has heavy army and will feel slower than Alexandra does. This again shows the great level of detail Silicon Knights went to in order to make Eternal Darkness be as realistic as possible. For those of you worried about the confusing story, don't worry. In the end, it will make perfect sense.
Now that I have played Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, I can easily say it was worth the wait. While I would have loved to see it as a launch title for the Cube, Silicon Knights might not been able to finish up a few "small touches" to the game. Also, I mentioned in my opening paragraph that those of you who don't own a GameCube may want to consider purchasing a system because of Eternal Darkness. I can understand that some of you may be thinking "I won't buy a system for one game..." However, before jumping to that conclusion, please remember the high number of quality titles shipping for the GameCube between now and February of 2003: Super Mario Sunshine, Mario Party 4, Star Fox Adventures Dinosaur Island, Metroid Prime, and the new cel-shaded Zelda. Sure, those are only a handful of titles. But with Eternal Darkness and those titles in your game library, you will be sure to have 6 of the best titles released this year. And if you didn't notice, these were all first party titles published by Nintendo. This is not even including the great third party titles coming for the system.
The little Cube is flexing some muscles this year and I completely recommend you jumping on board if you have not already done so. While there may not be a steady flow of mature titles like Eternal Darkness Sanity's Requiem appearing on the GameCube in the coming months, gamers looking for great gameplay, can find it on the Cube. Those wanting a mature game will be hard pressed to find a better title on any other platform. If you have the guts and are willing to lose your sanity, enter Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. It is a ride you soon won't forget.