Happy Halloween! Last year, I wrote about Resident Evil in what was my 5th article ever for Halloween. This year, I decided to write about a game I had never played until this month, when I sat down and beat it. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was a game developed by Silicon Knights and published by Nintendo. Considered by many to be a cult classic and one of the best games on the Gamecube, this game has made quite the name for itself. This game is now over 15 years old, does it still hold up well?
Eternal Darkness is a really interesting game. The game has several different settings and characters to play as, since you’re essentially playing through chapters of a book. What book? The Tome of Eternal Darkness. The main character finds the book at the beginning of the game and has to go through several chapters, each with a different character. These characters go through several trials in their chapters, and each find the book of Eternal Darkness themselves. In each chapter, the character finds the same villain that every other character finds, and each character has a similar fate to the others. The interesting part about these chapters is that they’re all true stories, taking place in different parts of history. They go from World War 1 to the Dark Ages to before Christ. Something historical is usually happening in these stories, while the main villain is causing horrible things to happen in the same area that this event is taking place, and his army of undead is wreaking havoc with him. The usual task is to get to through the area you’re in, collect items, and kill the undead zombies in your way. The game places a lot of emphasis on combat, using swords, knives, and guns. The game has a unique targeting system when using weapons on enemies, letting you target specific body parts to do them in quickly. There are several unique magic spells to use as well, doing things such as killing enemies, healing you, giving you a shield, enhancing your items, and more. The gameplay of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games is quite interesting. The Wiimote is involved very frequently and – I really think Eternal Darkness has a unique gameplay style. You’re probably asking yourself what the hell I just wrote. Eternal Darkness is a game that loves to mess with your mind. The game implements a Sanity Meter, that depletes when your character is around any enemies. When low, the game starts to really mess with the player and the character. There were parts in the game where bugs would start to crawl all over the screen, the volume would pop up and lower itself without me touching it, and even my game pretending to delete all my saves! It’s quite unnerving, and it gets worse. I was healing myself, and my character exploded, making me freak out. While I was reloading my gun, my character shot himself, and once even turned into a zombie! These sanity effects are really cool, and they really help this horror game be scary.
Though the game has some really cool parts, it has a lot of things that really bother me too, and I’m not talking about the Sanity Effects. There are many times where the game doesn’t tell you at all what to do. I got really frustrated while playing the game, and had to use a walkthrough. Along with being super cryptic, the game is incredibly unforgiving. There are no lives, and if you die, you go back to the last time you saved. On top of this, the cutscenes are unskippable on the first playthrough. Some characters are incredibly weak, and this game isn’t easy. I have walked into a room before, not knowing that there were incredibly tough enemies, and gotten killed easily since I wasn’t prepared. The Magic spells, while cool, can be incredibly situational, and these situations don’t tell you that the spells need to be used. There are instances where I need to reveal something invisible, but I have no way of knowing this, so I walk around aimlessly. The hardest boss I faced in the game can only be damaged by magic, but I don’t think there’s any way to find out about this without a walkthrough.
The way of casting spells is also really outdated. You have to cast the spell from the menu, then stay still until it finishes casting, leaving you completely vunerable. This is unacceptable by today’s standards. Along with bad spell casting, some chapters are a lot better than others. It’s obvious to tell what chapters Silicon Knights worked harder on. Since the chapters use a lot of the same locations, there are some that feel incredibly similar to others, which isn’t good. Each location in the game is used for at least two chapters, which is a real shame, since this game could have used more variety. Overall, the gameplay really doesn’t hold up today.
The controls of Lego City Undercover really hold up well, as Chase Mcclean has some of the best lego handling of this generation – sorry, I need to get my sanity meter up a bit. The controls for Eternal Darkness are also really aged. While moving around isn’t that bad, the A and B buttons are swapped for most actions. Instead of attacking with B and Interacting with things with A, it’s flip flopped. There are several times where I’ll accidentally fire a gun when I’m trying to pick an item up, and sometimes I’ll try to attack but hit B instead of A, since most games use B for attack. A lot of spells can be mapped to the D Pad, but the Gamecube’s D Pad is horrible. There are times where I hit the right direction, but the game thinks I hit up, and it’s not a sanity effect. The run button is L, which is also strange to me. Overall, the controls really don’t hold up either.
The music and graphics of Shrek: Fairly Tale Freakdown are some of the strongest 8-bit graphics on the Gameboy Color, with the surprising lack of All-Star by Smashmouth, but – sorry, sanity’s still a little low. The music and graphics of Eternal Darkness are also disappointing. The game is incredibly dark. I turned up the brightness all the way in the game’s settings, and I still had trouble seeing things. I get that it’s a horror game, but there are ways to make the game seem dark without making it unable to see. The character and enemy models also leave a lot left to be desired. This was a very early Gamecube game, and was originally supposed to release on the N64. This shows since the models of characters and environments are polygonal and blocky, and the only impressive part are the FMV cutscenes, which looked amazing for the time, but today look like something that would be good on VHS, and nothing more. The graphics really don’t hold up today. The music isn’t necessarily bad, but I genuinely don’t remember any of it. There are zero tracks that I can think of off the top of my head while writing this. I get that it’s a horror game, and music isn’t as important, but some dark tracks would be a really nice touch for this game. The music and graphics really leave a lot to be desired.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, really isn’t that good of a game in 2017. While I understand that in 2002, this was a super ambitious title that was genuinely scary, today this game is just a chore to play through. I can find almost no redeeming factors for this game besides that some of the characters are interesting and the game is genuinely scary. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem has not aged well at all.
I just wanted to say thank you guys for reading this article. This is my 30th article, and from now on, I’m not longer going to be numbering them, since it’s gotten a little redundant in my opinion. Anyway, the next set of articles I’m going to be releasing for Games Growing Up is going to be something big. For the next ELEVEN articles, I’ll be reviewing each game from the Classic Mega Man series! See you in two weeks for the start of the Games Growing Up Megathon!