Eternal Darkness is a very impressive Horror Adventure game.
Eternal Darkness was a great game, it was longer than I had expected and left me with a memorable impression. The graphics was a bit dated, other than that the only thing I hated about this game was the repeating dungeons. There's probably 3 or 4 dungeons in total of this game, but you replay them in different time zones, so things are different about them. While it's enough to give you new puzzles, you're still walking through the same rooms over and over and over again. It get's old.
It wouldn’t be unfair to compare this to Resident Evil, since they share some similarities, but Eternal Darkness does enough to separate itself so you won’t feel like you’re playing a Resident Evil clone.
Eternal Darkness is a Action / Adventure game at it's heart, although it's a Horror game, I wouldn't call it a Survival Horror though. Games like Resident Evil require you to conserve ammo and health and even save ribbons. Eternal Darkness requires none of that, since each character will get a Melee weapon, and that usually works out perfectly. Each character will also have a Projectile weapon, such as a gun, but I rarely had to use any gun and never ran out of ammo. You can save anywhere, so that's not a problem and you can refill your health with magic and refill your magic by running around, so there's really no surviving in this game. There's not alot of action in this game either to be honest. However, Eternal Darkness is full of puzzles and puzzles and puzzles, much like a Resident Evil or those Point and Click PC Adventure games.
Puzzle solving requires a ton of variety, but once you get a few dungeons in the game you'll start to realize a pattern with them. You'll have to pull levers, find items, use items, or use magic, or even use magic on item. Once you find an item you'll then have to find out what it does and where do you use it. You can't just pick up an item and then start hitting the B button expecting it to be used automatically like in an RPG, however if you find a key for instance, you'll have to walk up to the door, then go into your inventory and then use it. So this game is alot like Resident Evil in a lot of ways, but I wouldn't consider it a clone.
The fighting system is much different. As stated above, you'll be using a ton of melee weapons, like a variety of swords, axes, and others. Almost each character has a different weapon. Each character also have different HP, MP and Sanity meters, they have different stamina, strength and so on. The differences are subtle, but you'll notice them once you get a new character. The coolest thing about Eternal Darkness' fighting system is you can pin point which body part to attack. If you want to for a head shot, then you hold the R Trigger, and press up for a downward strike straight to the head. Head shots don't kill zombies in this game, so they'll run around aimlessly swinging at air trying to attack you. Eventually they'll regain their head and then charge after you again. If you knock down the zombie or cut him in half, you can then finish him off. When you finish off a zombie he won't ever come back, and then you'll regain Sanity points.
The Sanity meter is the most clever thing about Eternal Darkness. Each time a monster appears, a little bit of sanity drops from your meter. If your sanity gets really low, then your character will eventually start to see illusions. Some of them are subtle like walls bleeding, babies crying, women screaming, doors knocking, but others will screw with you. For example, if you run into a room and find a bunch of ammo, you'll then start to pick it up and be happy that you now have a ton of ammo, then the screen will flash white and you'll be in the last room you're in without any of the ammon. Another example is you'll trying to check your inventory and all your items will be missing, then after so long it will flash white and you'll be back to normal. There's better examples of this, but I don't want to spoil them.
The magic system is very simple to learn, but difficult to explain so bare with me. You'll start off with the "Circle of Power", this will create your magic. You'll find 3 Circle of Power in the game that can hold 3, 5 and 7 Runes. The Runes is what creates the magic, but first you must find Runes. When you find a Rune it will start off as stone with a Rune symbol on it, but you'll eventually find a zombie with the Rune symbol inside it's body and unlock that Rune for use. Once you have unlocked the Runes you'll need to learn the magic, so then you'll need a Scroll. The Scroll tells you about the magic and what Runes you need to create it. Once you find the scroll and rune you'll then be ready to create your magic, but there's three different powers in the game a Red magic, Green magic and Blue magic. Some monsters will be fused with Red magic, so you'll have to use a Blue magic spell to attack him. Although to use spells in battle you have to stand perfectly still or else it won't work. So casting in battle is pretty tough.
----------Characters / Story----------
There's a ton of characters in this game, but you'll mostly be playing as Alex. Alex's grandfather has died, and she was the closest kin, so she had to look over his estate. As she's going their her grandfathers mansion, she finds clues into how he died and eventually stumbles upon the Tome of Eternal Darkness. This book has been around for thousands of years and has been past down from generation to generation. The Tome grants magic abilities to the person that carries it. As Alex fights more pages to the Tome hidden in the Mansion, she'll learn more and more about the previous owners of the Tome. Once Alex finds a page of the Tome, you'll be forced into playing their story, and as you finish up that dungeon Alex will learn whatever magic they learn, and learn more about how her grandfather acquired the Tome.
The story started off strong, then it sidetracked me with weird characters that made no sense for a long time. By the time I was finished with the game I was in love with the story. The game just gives you a piece of the story at a time, and then after you put together all the pieces you can tell they put alot of energy into the story and all the weird little back stories within this game.
The graphics seemed a bit dated to me, even by 2002's standards so you can clearly see the N64's roots within this game. Resident Evil Zero came out just a few months after this and it totally blows away Eternal Darkness. The character models looked decent except for the cutscenes which looked pretty bad. All of the cutscenes are showcased inside of a small box, maybe taking up 2/3's of the screen. This would of been fine if they made the scenes in widescreen, but they cut off the sides and the tops, so it looks pretty bad. Some cutscenes look slightly condensed and blurry.
There's no special attacks in this game that will blow your mind, there's only a few monsters in the game repeated through out. There's no cool finishing moves. There's only a couple boss fights, you'll fight through dungeons you've already been through with different characters. You can see where they cut corners to make this a longer game than it should, but I still had a ton of fun through out the entire experience.
On the good side, the backgrounds looked nice, they're fully 3D and not pre-rendered like in Resident Evil although you can't control the camera in any way. However, Resident Evil Remake and Zero looks about 10 times better than Eternal Darkness. There's a ton of characters you can play, a ton of weapons, items, and other assorted goodies. You can tell they put alot of time into making the sanity effects too. Overall, the graphics were pretty average at best.
The sound was wonderful in just about every category. The voice acting was great, the music fit this game almost perfectly, and best of all the sound effects were amazing. I can't think of anything bad about the sound other than the sound of a door closing sounds exactly like the sound effect of an AOL chat when a person leaves you buddy list.
Eternal Darkness mostly takes place inside a big mansion, however the point of the game is finding pages of the Tome of Eternal Darkness and then playing as other people in different times in different parts of the world. Once Alex finds these pages, she will start to read them and then you will be able to play as the other characters in the game.
Each page is pretty much a dungeon. Within each dungeon is a normal map like you would find within a Zelda game that shows each room you've been, but I rarely had to use the map in this game, since the dungeons were fairly linear most of the time. You can save anywhere in the game, aslong as you're 'not in danger', so that's pretty cool.
----------Time to Complete Game----------
The game saves before the final boss and saves after you beat him, but it doesn't record the time while you are fighting him, watching the cutscenes and credits, so I probably put a total of 12:35 minutes into this game, if not more.
The game saves after you beat it, but I'm not quite sure what it does. You can play through it again to get a different ending and boss fights depending on what color of artifact you pick up early in the game, so there's a little bit of replay value.