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Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

Developer: Silicon Knights
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Action / Adventure
Players: 1
Similar To: Silent Hill 2
Memory: 16 blocks
Rating: Mature
Published: 07 :19 : 02
Reviewed By: Ryan Newman

Overall: 9 = Must Buy


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You've just inherited the family mansion, congratulations! Well, there is also the small fact that the house also holds a key to keeping the ancient entities, known as the Ancients, at bay, all while small groups of people do all that is in their power to see that the Ancients return. As you read the history, you will reenact the past and face the future as you're now the chosen one, and it will be up to you to stand the storm and keep the world from eternal darkness.

Gameplay: 9.5/10
Eternal Darkness is played out in several different segments that are spread throughout history. From a Roman soldier to an Indiana Jones-esque explorer, vast amounts of weapons will become available, as will new spells. The game is told through one main story that is set in the present and while all the weapons might not carry over into the current world, the magic does. Each story tells the tale of a normal person who was put in an extraordinary situation and given the task of keeping the world safe from Ancient beings who wish to do it harm. Whether the persons went into the situation for love, fame, or conquest, they all ended up in the same situation, and while some faltered, the others lived up to the task.

The game is played with the main character being in present day, but as she reads through a book, she relives the lives of the people that have been given the role of protector before her. Pious Augustus, the Roman soldier, is the first tale told and as he finds his way in a cavern, he will pick one of three ancients, and then he will fold and go towards evil. There are several more characters afterwards, each with their own back-story and place within the overall world. With the stories intertwined, Eternal Darkness has an extremely polished feel to it and really plays out like a fantastic adventure more so than anything else. That isn't to say that there isn't going to be some bloodcurdling screams though.

Each of the characters must face trials of vast horrors and try to keep their head about them, for every time a monster is seen, the character loses a bit more of their sanity. The lower the sanity meter goes, the more outrageous Eternal Darkness becomes as the game will pretend to delete your save files, stop in that moment and tell you 'Thanks for playing!' and ask that you pick up the full version, or even show illusions of monsters that aren't really there. To regain sanity, a finishing move must be performed on the monster that was seen. The finishers can be particularly satisfying since specific body parts can be targeted and attack - cut off the head, the monster can't see, cut off the arms and it's can't attack - so it's nice to maul and finish off a nasty that was troublesome.

The aforementioned weapons and spells also make their presence known throughout the various segments. Players will get to fight off the undead using shotguns, swords, torches, pistols, and a variety of other sharpened objects. While the modern weapons had their charms, I found the older, melee weapons to be much more efficient and enjoyable. The variety of spells are also as plentiful as the weapons as each spell requires several pieces for it to work, but they also have varying degrees of working depending on which rune is used to cast it; a reveal invisible spell might not work the first few times, but casting it on a different rune will make it work, it can get confusing at times, but there are quick cast spell keys and a list to chose from without wasting time.

There are some pretty enjoyable spells that will enchant items, heal the player, or my favorite, put up a force field so the gamer gets the same treatment as the computer as they shoot and hack their enemies, all while an invisible barrier knocks back any who try to break through. In short, the player has a good amount of defensive and offensive mechanisms at their disposal, and all I can say is that it's about time!

The game's action keeps the pace up and the puzzles never prove too difficult to solve, helping the overall flow of the game stay steady. Having the game in various segments also lends itself to being the perfect title to play through and leave, but being able to come back to and play some more, without having to backtrack and remember what all was done; at the same time, it is also a great title to play for extended periods because it's always fun and interesting to see what time period will be next. With the atmosphere of Silent Hill 2, the look of Resident Evil, and a play-style all its own, Eternal Darkness proves that a horror title doesn't need to be slow and methodical, it can have fast combat, sensible puzzles, and still retain the creepy elements that make it overly addictive. Eternal Darkness is exactly what the GameCube and the industry needs; the GameCube gets another fantastic title to add to its library and the industry gets another example of how gaming can be just as a powerful of a medium as anything else in conveying a fantastic story.

Graphics: 8/10
Unfortunately, it's obvious that Eternal Darkness started off as a Nintendo 64 title, but it's still a great-looking title. It's only when the occasional mesh - think of the semi-animated veins on the cavern walls in Rayman 2 - or a static bitmap image is used as a background, as opposed to actual 3D objects, that it becomes apparent that this wasn't a GameCube title from the get-go. Some of the highlights include the fantastic character models, which not only sport some great designs but also a fair amount of detail, the spell effects, and the lighting. The animations are also well-done, especially the finishing moves, as are the various locales. So while some things might look a little dated, a nice coat of polish was definitely lathered over everything to get it up to snuff - and then some.

Sound: 10/10
The sound of children giggling and doors being pounded on can be heard throughout the levels, and they are used to great effect. The music matches the various levels and changes in atmosphere, and it all is done very well. The voiceovers are also top notch, perfectly matching their virtual counterparts, and the various mumblings of your own character is enough to send a shiver up the spine of even the most hardened gamer. The implementation of the sound was so well done in all aspects - music, effects, voices - that Eternal Darkness has become the benchmark title that companies should use to see if they are taking full advantage of all the aural possibilities.

Control: 8.5/10
With a system that is a mesh between Resident Evil and more arcade oriented titles, the controls manage to escape most of the downfalls associated with 3D action titles. Using an interesting touch-sensitive method to choose which part of the targeted enemy to attack, and a double tap method to switch to a new target, Eternal Darkness features one of the most streamlined systems that I have run across in quite some time. With both the analog and digital controllers providing adequate control and response times, there is a style tailored to either preference. The option to give spells a specific key is similar to the 'hotkeys' used in PC games - hotkeys, for the non-PC gamer, are keys assigned to a task so that the player doesn't have to scroll through several menus or take the cursor off the window of play - and proves to be a convenient and time-saving method on consoles as well. If there is one complaint, it's that the characters seem a bit rigid in the movements; if an enemy or trap is nearby, I would had to turn around and run instead of side-stepping or doing a quick back step to get out of harm's way. Other than that, the streamlined control really simplified the title and, in turn, makes it much more accessible to any gamer.

Overall: 9/10
Eternal Darkness proves to be a thoroughly enjoyable title from beginning to end. The different segments provide enough variety to keep interest high and they are so well intertwined with the overall story that I really appreciated how the game came across as if I was playing through a movie or book. With genuinely creepy moments, fantastic sound, replay value out the wazoo, and a story that is told so well that it comes across flawlessly, Eternal Darkness is another notch on the GameCube's belt, and it's a title that no GC owner should be without.

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