A descent into Eternal Darkness

Posted by xyzygy (10062 posts) -

Bam. 
*Be warned: may be spoilers for Eternal Darkness* 
 
There it is. The game I have been looking for since 2002, the one game I truly ever wanted on the Gamecube but could never, ever find. Living where I do with one game store and having Gamecubes come and go during my life, the fates never aligned for me to play this game. I followed it intently before it came out, watched as it was met by absolutely glowing reviews and then faded away as every single game store never had Eternal Darkness in stock while I had a Gamecube (and when I got my Wii in 2006). 
 
Now though... IT IS MINE! You know how there are those games that you wish you'd have played but never got the chance to? Those PS1 games you wanted so bad but alas, those discs don't fit in an N64? That's what Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem was to me. I sat down to play it last night for the first time and was completely gripped just by the opening poem excerpt in the beginning. 
 
"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, doubting..." - Edgar Allan Poe 
 
The game deals with something more than just a good guy versus bad guy story. It takes place over 2 millennia and tells stories from many different perspectives during that time. It's one of those games that has more to it than meets the eye, like reading a really great book or watching a thought provoking movie. I had forgotten how games used to be told like this. It's not so "in your face" as games are now, not like God of War, Halo, Uncharted, Gears, etc where games are more in line with a summer blockbuster movie hoping to pull you in with cheap thrills and witty characters. 
 
No, Eternal Darkness surpasses these games in unimaginable ways. I sat down to play it last night, excited out of my mind to finally have this opportunity and 7 hours later I was watching as the architect Roberto Bianchi is being cemented into the foundation of his own creation. Such bitter tragedies pockmark this game and give it a truly human and vast feel. How fitting too, as the words of Edward Roivas during the game's opening state: "This is the story of humanity."  
 
The game is extremely moody and atmospheric. I've never felt so horrified in a video game as I do walking around the Roivas mansion, hearing footsteps whisk away on hardwood floor like I had company in the room, or the unending flurry of angry fists against the door as if someone is in dire need of help. Then there are the hallucinations - at one point (and this was right after I had left a bathroom witnessing my own dead body in the tub) I walked out of the room and noticed that the furniture was getting larger and larger. It caught me so off guard that by the time I realized I was actually shrinking, a high pitched scream made my blood curdle.  
 

 Anthony, a young messenger from the 12th century.
The game plays well enough - it has just the right amount of limitation (some would call it clunkiness, but there is a difference) to it's controls to make the game a challenge and to suit this style of game. The theme of the game is humanity and I feel that this carries over into gameplay - you can't dodge or any of that fancy stuff. You can just walk, run, target body parts and attack. It's simple and it works. There is magic but so far nothing I have come across is offensive - it's all meant to help you explore the environment along with the occasional support spell. If anything, the actual combat is the weakest part of the game, but that's hardly a criticism in comparison to how great every other part of the game holds up. The combat is still fun and I do find myself dying from panicking and running into the wrong room full of enemies or not using the correct support spell. It also has a neat meter called "Sanity", and if you lose it you will start hallucinating like I described above.
 
The voice cast is excellent and considering this game came out in 2002 it's an accomplishment. This would have been one of the first games on a Nintendo platform with a fully voiced cast, if I'm not mistaken, and they get the job done. I recognize a lot of the VA's from the Metal Gear Solid franchise too.
 
I'm going to post my final thoughts about the game once I'm done playing, as I know I'll have some feelings towards the characters and how they end up. I'm 7 hours in, just completing the story of Roberto Bianchi and I have no idea where the game will take me next!  
 
I JUST HOPE I CAN KEEP MY SANITY
#1 Posted by xyzygy (10062 posts) -

Bam. 
*Be warned: may be spoilers for Eternal Darkness* 
 
There it is. The game I have been looking for since 2002, the one game I truly ever wanted on the Gamecube but could never, ever find. Living where I do with one game store and having Gamecubes come and go during my life, the fates never aligned for me to play this game. I followed it intently before it came out, watched as it was met by absolutely glowing reviews and then faded away as every single game store never had Eternal Darkness in stock while I had a Gamecube (and when I got my Wii in 2006). 
 
Now though... IT IS MINE! You know how there are those games that you wish you'd have played but never got the chance to? Those PS1 games you wanted so bad but alas, those discs don't fit in an N64? That's what Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem was to me. I sat down to play it last night for the first time and was completely gripped just by the opening poem excerpt in the beginning. 
 
"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, doubting..." - Edgar Allan Poe 
 
The game deals with something more than just a good guy versus bad guy story. It takes place over 2 millennia and tells stories from many different perspectives during that time. It's one of those games that has more to it than meets the eye, like reading a really great book or watching a thought provoking movie. I had forgotten how games used to be told like this. It's not so "in your face" as games are now, not like God of War, Halo, Uncharted, Gears, etc where games are more in line with a summer blockbuster movie hoping to pull you in with cheap thrills and witty characters. 
 
No, Eternal Darkness surpasses these games in unimaginable ways. I sat down to play it last night, excited out of my mind to finally have this opportunity and 7 hours later I was watching as the architect Roberto Bianchi is being cemented into the foundation of his own creation. Such bitter tragedies pockmark this game and give it a truly human and vast feel. How fitting too, as the words of Edward Roivas during the game's opening state: "This is the story of humanity."  
 
The game is extremely moody and atmospheric. I've never felt so horrified in a video game as I do walking around the Roivas mansion, hearing footsteps whisk away on hardwood floor like I had company in the room, or the unending flurry of angry fists against the door as if someone is in dire need of help. Then there are the hallucinations - at one point (and this was right after I had left a bathroom witnessing my own dead body in the tub) I walked out of the room and noticed that the furniture was getting larger and larger. It caught me so off guard that by the time I realized I was actually shrinking, a high pitched scream made my blood curdle.  
 

 Anthony, a young messenger from the 12th century.
The game plays well enough - it has just the right amount of limitation (some would call it clunkiness, but there is a difference) to it's controls to make the game a challenge and to suit this style of game. The theme of the game is humanity and I feel that this carries over into gameplay - you can't dodge or any of that fancy stuff. You can just walk, run, target body parts and attack. It's simple and it works. There is magic but so far nothing I have come across is offensive - it's all meant to help you explore the environment along with the occasional support spell. If anything, the actual combat is the weakest part of the game, but that's hardly a criticism in comparison to how great every other part of the game holds up. The combat is still fun and I do find myself dying from panicking and running into the wrong room full of enemies or not using the correct support spell. It also has a neat meter called "Sanity", and if you lose it you will start hallucinating like I described above.
 
The voice cast is excellent and considering this game came out in 2002 it's an accomplishment. This would have been one of the first games on a Nintendo platform with a fully voiced cast, if I'm not mistaken, and they get the job done. I recognize a lot of the VA's from the Metal Gear Solid franchise too.
 
I'm going to post my final thoughts about the game once I'm done playing, as I know I'll have some feelings towards the characters and how they end up. I'm 7 hours in, just completing the story of Roberto Bianchi and I have no idea where the game will take me next!  
 
I JUST HOPE I CAN KEEP MY SANITY
#2 Posted by mzuckerm (351 posts) -

This was such a good game.  I played it somewhere around 2005, which was already a few years after it was released, and I was blown away.  Curious to hear if it still holds up.

#3 Posted by Enigma777 (6084 posts) -

I've been meaning to play this game for a while. Might be time to dust off my 'Cube and grab a copy. 

#4 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11994 posts) -

I played it for my blog series a more than a year ago and thought it was ok. While it's not quite Alpha Protocol or Arcanum levels of me being entirely baffled that people like this game, I'm still surprised people like it so much. The combat was clunky, the puzzles were usually pretty simplistic, and the story was every Lovecraftian trait mixed together. The sanity meter is cool, until you realize that it's a gimmick rendered entirely pointless by the "restore sanity" spell, which most players will get first anyways. I know there was a hidden ending for playing the game 3 times, but I don't think I could do that.

#5 Edited by xyzygy (10062 posts) -
@ArbitraryWater: I can understand why you'd think the combat is clunky. I'm finding the puzzles to be the perfect degree of complex, they're not so bad that I have to actually stop playing the game but they're not so easy that i can just fly through the game. 
 
But about the storyline, I don't think it matters if it's "Lovecraftian" or not. I'm not expecting Silicon Knights to coin a new term for unprecedented storytelling, like "Silicon Knightian" or anything. When I'm playing the game I don't think "Well, this is Lovecraftian" or whatever. I just enjoy it and it really affects me, doesn't matter what style they use. 
 
Oh, and another thing I want to add... I actually enjoy not using the restore Sanity spell. I love the hallucinations and the paranoid feeling the player character starts experiencing.
 
@mzuckerm: Other than the limited controls (which is understandable for a game like this) the game is holding up amazingly. Great VA, graphics aren't bad at all, awesome sound design and effects. The story is the star here for me.
#6 Posted by mzuckerm (351 posts) -
@ArbitraryWater: It's funny that you link this with Alpha Protocol, which is another game I thoroughly enjoyed.  But anyway, I think the best part of Eternal Darkness was the narrative.  When I first played it I was just getting into Lovecraft, and I thought they hit everything just about right.  They gave you just enough story to keep you satisfied, but enough mystery to keep you on the edge of your seat.  Plus, they did something that struck me as particularly innovative, messing with the player.  For instance, the screen where the game acts like your system has been disconnected, the screens with the flies, automatic death scenes, etc.  I thought those were really well done, and pretty creative for the time.
#7 Posted by wolf_blitzer85 (5288 posts) -

I played the absolute hell out of this game when it came out. I really wish I still had it.

Online
#8 Posted by Tordah (2484 posts) -

Such an excellent game. The story and the atmosphere is what makes it stand out to me.

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