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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.