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As always with Nintendo, when they make a good game, they MAKE a good game. The N64, although popular, the disk system of the PlayStation far surpassed it, but we always turn back (at university, at friend's houses etc) to play the classics of the N64: Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Ocarina of Time.
The Gamecube game, and albeit its superior graphics to the PS2, it flopped. But, it did have THOSE games, the ones that surpass the realms of good that lead to multiple playability and countless remakes and re-imaginings.
This game is one of those big guns. Although selling relatively little this has become a cult came across fans. The story takes place over a 2000 year timespance mixing the lives of many characters interconnected by the Tome of Eternal Darkness, a magic book that chronicles the lives of those trying to fight the evil of the universe that's coming to enslave the human race.
The story develops as if it was a novel. It reminds you of the works of Italo Calvino and David Mitchel, telling a story that transcends time where everyone is interconnected.
The greatest aspect is the Sanity meter. The more ghouls you see the more insane your character becomes. The camera angles skew so you turning your head trying to keep focus. Blood pours out of walls. Flies crawl across your screen. Your head explodes. Your console shuts down saying it's wiped all memory from the system. The music gets louder, quieter, you hear running, breathing screaming. The walls close in. Your weapons disappear. You go insane.
Not quite on par with other survival horrors but definitely a worthy title. If only it were popular enough for a sequel on the Wii. Let's Hope.
Even writing this review brings back the music...
Never a particularly bad console, but never one of the 'big players' on the scene, the Nintendo Gamecube was one of those consoles that attracted a fanbase almost solely through the quality of its exclusive games. It lacked the graphical punch of the X-Box, the world of variety of the PlayStation 2, and, heck, it didn't even play CDs or DVDs. It was a Nintendo games console for people who wanted from Nintendo only what they did best - high quality, quirky, unique games. They wanted the guaranteed killer apps that franchises like Mario and Zelda would bring to the table, along with the out-of-the-blue surprise hits like Pokémon and Animal Crossing that were destined to explode.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem was one of those feathers in the Gamecube's cap. Although not a Nintendo title, it only appeared on the Gamecube, and at today's prices, its almost worth buying the console just to play it. It grabbed the baton from the then-stale Resident Evil series, shoved it to the ground, and ran off in a completely different direction. This introduced us to one of the most psychologically daunting and genuinely unsettling experiences in recent gaming memory.
In this survival horror title, you take control of a dozen characters from an equal number of time periods - ranging from Ancient Rome to the modern day war-struck Middle East. Combined, their tales weave together the history of a terrible evil's attempts to destroy the world, and man's suicidal attempts to halt it. Your main character is Alex, a young woman who is exploring her recently deceased grandfather's mansion, trying to solve the mystery of his enigmatic death. It's not long before she finds, hidden in a secret room, a book called the Tome of Darkness. She explores the mansion further to find its pages, and each one tells the tale of people from the past who have been touched by the darkness. You live their stories, which are set in a variety of locations over hundreds of years, including a church, an ancient temple and mysterious new worlds. In one such adventure, your character is accused of murder. In another, you have to track down and outsmart a vampire monster that is laying waste to your servants. At the climax, Alex summons all of their power to destroy the evil once and for all.
The game is spooky. It tries its very best not only to affect your character, but also to reach through the screen and psychologically haunt you, the player. It adopts a massive number of new and intelligent tricks to break the fourth wall (which separates you from the reality of the game) and drag you down into the insanity that each character is overwhelmed by. Warning: If you don't want any of the game's surprises to be spoilt, don't read the rest of this paragraph, just rest assured that they're good. For all of you who are still here, here's my example. I was intrigued by this 'psychological' edge when I was first presented with the game, so I was excited when my character's Sanity meter started to run low. I was presented with the incessant giggles of small children piping through my speakers. Unimpressed, I wrote this off as nothing but a cheesy distraction, and hardly the mind-shag I had been promised. I carried on playing and rose my blade to strike a bothersome zombie. My Gamecube crashed. It froze up, and the screen went black. I even heard the disc inside the console thunk to a premature end. I blinked. Before I could react, the screen exploded back into life, my character panting and screaming, and the zombie lunging for my flesh. The game had tricked me. It had thrown me off course by making me think my Gamecube had given up the ghost. Eternal Darkness is full of clever touches like this, and while they're only fun and enjoyable in retrospect (they're agonising at the time), they make the game one hell of a strange, wild experience. I won't spoil any more of them for you, but they get worse.
As in real life, zombies and demons can often be overwhelming, so it's good to see that your posse in Eternal Darkness come equipped with methods to whip them into shape. The most direct is the combat system. Each character is armed with an arsenal of weaponry (which reflect the time period of the character using them, so look out for some historically-accurate weapons if that's your thing). These are mostly just variations of knife and handgun, although these are generally all you need in life as well as games. The combat engine has aspirations for greatness, as you can target specific body parts of your enemy to blind them or incapacitate them. This helps you out if you're stuck in a room heaving with the living dead. Chop off their heads and leg it into a corner, and the idiots will blindly knock each other out.
This is all well and good, but they wouldn't be able to survive in a world of horror without the help of their magical powers. Once your character finds the Tome of Darkness, they can weave spells that are essential to master if you intend to progress through the game. Most of the game's "puzzles" revolve around using a certain spell of a certain strength at the tight time. For example, Reveal Invisible will help you track down the vampire. This can get complex at times, when you have to take into consideration different 'colours' in the magic world, and have to perfect your timing to fire off the spell at the right time. The system does take away some of the creativity behind the problem solving, and I often descended into trying out random spells over and over in order to overcome a problem. In addition, you really have to master the system to be able to finish the game, and this can cause a little boredom and frustration. Personally, I don't feel that this system belongs in a game of this depth and intelligence, but it doesn't bother me enough to ruin the game or even come close to.
A questionable magic system aside, the game is of an intensely high quality. The storyline is its real triumph. Packed with insanity and death, it's definitely not your average cutesy Gamecube experience. Rather, it is a chilling journey through some of the darkest periods in human history. It feels as if the developers have explored the history books with the finest of toothcombs, selecting the eras used with the intent to cause as many chills as they can. In one scenario, you are in a war hospital and bombs are devastating the world around you. After some nervous exploration and discussion with the dying soldiers and the nurses fighting to keep them alive, a bomb finally hits - the electricity cuts out, and you are plunged into the darkness, suddenly now completely alone. Moments like this achieve glorious effects and, while the game will never make you leap behind your sofa and stay there until it all goes away, your skin will crawl. This, combined with a great story, a plethora of characters and environments and only a minutely flawed gameplay system, make for one of the Gamecube's, and indeed modern gaming's, most enjoyable experiences.
(A version of this review has been posted to Ciao)
This game has been a long time coming. Originally it was set to appear on the N64 but because of the console nearing the end of its lifespan Silicon Knights moved their project over to the GameCube to allow more time working on the game. It is easy to liken this game to Capcoms Resident Evil and, while it does have its similarities, Eternal Darkness is an altogether different game. There is less schlock horror with the zombies and weird monsters and more of an underlying tone of evil, which becomes apparent due to the heavy narrative story that you will witness during the game.
The story begins with a phone call early in the morning. However this time theres no guy at the other end asking what your favourite scary movie is. It is the police telling young Alex Roivas about a none too pleasant discovery. Her grandfather has been found murdered in his mansion and his head is missing. Police, however, cannot find any clues at all as to who or what caused his grisly demise. Alex takes it upon herself to piece together what has happened and it is there that she discovers the Tomb of Eternal Darkness and the story begins. During the game you take control of twelve characters, which are all linked one way or another to the quest of stopping the Eternal Darkness from taking over the world. The characters span over twenty centuries and can see you taking control of a monk, a thief and ancestors from your family. Gamers wanting a quick blast with a shotgun will be disappointed in this game the story is paramount and it is all the better for it. An ingenious aspect of the game is the fact that sometimes locations interweave with characters so you may visit a certain place again but it has changed significantly since last time.
Each chapter of the game lasts roughly one hour though some of the earlier ones can be over a bit more quickly. As you progress the enemies and puzzles that you face will increase in terms of difficulty. After each chapter you will then take control of Alex who, from what she has learnt from the chapter previously, hunt down another chapter that is hidden in the mansion and also discover some of its many secrets. Even though most of the game has already happened you can still die so combat skills need to be brushed up on as well as having your thinking caps. The combat system itself is a mixed bag. Enemies can be targeted by pressing down the R button and the part of the body that you have targeted will flash up white which you can then attack by pressing A. This means that you can cause all matter of decapitations to your enemies if you aim correctly. However the system is not perfect. When there are multiple enemies you can all too easily target the wrong one and also, a finishing move to kill off an enemy and regain sanity, is also very time consuming and can leave you vulnerable which may obviously be the point but can also be annoying when you target an enemy on the floor rather than the one shambling up next to you. On the whole it does work well and you will also have quite an arsenal of weapons to play with.
Another key aspect of getting along in the game is the use of Magik. The Magik system is surprisingly deep and complex but integrated perfectly and it is vital in use, not only as a stand-alone function but also with combat. You can heal yourself, enhance weapons, reveal invisible walls and summon creatures to do you bidding among many other spells. Spells are created by you collecting Runes and then a Codex to decipher them and they are then added to your spell list which can be accessed via the main menu and you can also set your most used spells to the D-pad for quick use. However it doesnt end there. Each spell can be set to a different colour of alignment (red, blue or green) and it is vital to use the correct one in order to make the spell effective against certain situations. For example you may come across a barrier of a red colour then a blue alignment will bring it down. It does sound complicated but you are broken into in gently enough. Also with different Circles of Power and the number of Runes available the more adventurous player can even conjure up totally unique spells.
A much vaunted and discussed area of the game are the sanity effects. As you go through the game you need to keep an eye on your sanity metre. As you see enemies then your sanity will slowly decrease. If it gets too low then your sanity slowly slips away. It can start off simply enough by hearing some babys cry or blood seeping from the walls but some are just incredible. It is unfair to spoil just what will happen when you do reach the point of no return but, believe me, it had me questioning what was really happening within the game. You can top your metre up using a spell and finishing off a dead enemy (by pressing B) will also regain some. To an extent it can be seen as just a gimmick of the game but it really can make a difference.
Graphically the game can sometimes show its intentions of it being released on the N64. There are no lush background and locations that we have seen in the Resident Evil games. Visuals are, on the whole, very good but are nowhere near as stylish as some of the other games on the console. However that is not to say that they dont look the part. Some of the locations are breathtaking on terms of scale and detail. The Cathedral level in particular really does look fantastic, which is brilliant architecture, expansive rooms and the sudden bursts of light when lightning strikes, which light up the stained glass windows, is a sight to behold. Character models, human and monster, are generally good. Some monsters can look a bit too angular but they still look good enough. Human models are pretty much excellent especially when you see them in the cut scenes as their facial expressions are relished in great detail and the lip-syncing is perfect. There can also be quite a lot going on the screen at any one time. Lighting, animations and the sheer amount of detail that this game can sometimes offer at any one point is seamlessly presented without a hint of slowdown, which really does please. Camera angles are also placed quite well not only to give a great cinematic feeling but to also let the player see the action. However sometimes it can be hard to make out an enemy round a corner and this can result in some nasty surprise but on the whole the camera works well.
Luckily not only does the game offer a superb story but it also excels in the vocal department. There are no cheesy, halfhearted voice-overs in this game. Each and every voice of a character is performed perfectly. The Roman Centurion Augustus, who plays a pivotal role, really does ooze that deep, menacing drawl that evil people tend to have in films but without hamming it up. Without good voice actors the story wouldnt have the same effect but because both are so good it really makes it stand out. Indeed sound in the game is quite spectacular in general. Musical scores fit the mood perfectly and sound effects are abundant and varied. Sound is used to build up tension and chill the player and works well. Although I have yet to get one people with a surround sound system will have the experience improved tenfold thanks to the Dolby Prologic II being put to use.
The game is quite an epic one. You can expect a game to last around twenty hours but you can see that increase to about thirty depending on your skill. There are also multiple paths you can take depending on which alignment you choose at the start of the game which can alter in game events to a certain degree. If you are dedicated enough and play the game through three times on different alignment settings you are treated to a unique ending so there is plenty value for your money.
From its amazing story to its unique Magik system Silicon Knights have come up with a game that ranks along the best for the GameCube. The game does require time and dedication, however, and leaving it and then coming back to play can be initially confusing. For those who can spend the time with it then you have an amazing story full of twists, stunning cinema style cut scenes and a great Magik system. Put plainly enough this can be seen as a thinking mans Resident Evil. However this game is so much more and many people should experience the Darkness.
[8 out of 10]
ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITYS REQUIEM IS
Good in all areas
ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITYS REQUIEM IS NOT
Full a person with little time
Brilliant in all areas
This is an adult game; I'd go as far to say this is even more adult than Capcom?s classic Resident Evil series because Resident Evil is more of a B-movie whilst this title is one of those epic tales of adventure and confusion. Nintendo don?t normally make adult game but you have the adult content rival consoles brag about but the fun gameplay Nintendo has always been famed for. Now Eternal Darkness features one of those storylines that is so in depth that even after ten hours of play you don't truly understand what exactly is going on. It all starts horrifically enough, you?re a Buffy look alike named Alex who, after hearing of her grandfathers death, heads off to his mansion. Yet her grandfather has been murdered in a most horrific and brutal fashion and you are determined to discover what exactly happened. After finding a secret passage you uncover the Tome of Eternal Darkness that has several chapters missing. Each chapter tells of a time in history, people, much like yourself, who have unwittingly become involved in this horrific quest featuring the ancients of earth. You play as these individual characters and after each chapter you are forced to find the next chapter page to continue your story. I won't delve much further than that, the story is an intricate part of the gameplay and to spoil it here would be blasphemy. But it is the gameplay that really sets it apart from other games because this is unlike any survival horror game you'll ever play. Yes it features Zombies, yes it features strange puzzles (although not many) and yes it features fixed (although swooping) camera angles. The gameplay evolves rather dramatically throughout, early chapters feature you beheading zombies and working out simple puzzles, a little later then the sanity element kicks in and later the magick (spelt correctly) system becomes vital in completing the game. The insanity effects are clever, the concept of insanity means that as you deal with en
emies you begin to lose sanity, you can redeem it by 'finishing off' foes yet there will be times when you lose your sanity. This can damage your health yet the most exciting thing about insanity is the effect. Things happen in the game that plays with your minds, footsteps that aren't your own, people banging on doors, blood dripping off the walls are a mere few of in game insanity effects, other effects include messing with the gamers mind. The Magick system is vital for working out puzzles and defeating hard opponents especially when your health is low. All these elements go to show that this is no Resident Evil clone. Graphically you have proper 3D models, which as are very nice, the special magick effects are equally stunning. In the sound department you have music that mimics your state of mind so expect some freaky yet very nice Dolby Pro Logic II sounds. A large variety in gameplay, an epic quest and without a doubt the best horror game avalible on any console. One of Gamecube?s finest games. Dringo.
The game is set from before BC to 2000 AD. It tells the story of the fight against the 'Eternal Darkness', a terrible power that threatens the human race's existence. I know this sounds really corny, but rest assured, the plot is much better than I am making it sound! Quite simply, this is one of the most playable games on the Gamecube so far. Every facet of this game's mecahanics has been polished so bright it shines like a diamond. Like the game its most compared with, Resident Evil, it uses immovable camera angles but unlike Resident Evil it is not pre-rendered so the camera can move and thus never really gets in your way, while retaining the suspense created by the camera angles. You have an unlimited inventory which means theres little to no pesky backtracking and the control system is simple yet detailed enough to be able to control your characters effectively. The actual game plot is incredibly good and contains that elusive 'compulsivity' factor that forces you to play until you see the final cutscene. The game jumps between about ten characters, the 1st few characters each having about a 1hr portion of the game and the later characters having longer portions effectively giving you enough time to actually care about the fate of your characters while not having enough time to get bored of any of them. And you will care about them, as all of them have unique characteristics, professions and personalitys; immersing you into the game still further. The game also presents you with a variety of things to do, in a multitude of locations, and in a number of different time zones from a 16th century Priests attempt to clear his name of murder in a spooky Amiens cathedral to a 20th century Psychologist researching his family tree in (you guessed it) a spooky old mansion The only real gameplay flaws are a slightly annoying combat system which, while fairly novel, is poorly executed- you can strike at the arms, torso or head but it
s often easier to just take out the head and just hack away. Also the sanity system, while another novel idea, could also be executed better- the game shows you the sanity meter, which tells you when youre insane or not, and this means that you can tell when you are and arent insane, spoiling the effects somewhat. It would be much creepier if they removed the meter. The graphics are generally good, detailed and nicely moody, although the characters are poorly rendered. The game is not quite as visusally stunning as Rogue Leader, Resident Evil , Halo and the ilk as well. Excellent. The best sounding game on the Gamecube. The voice acting is superb, music fitting and well composed, sound effects clear and appropriate and the sanity effects are particularly disturbing. The game will last about 10-15 hours for expert players, and about 15-20 for lesser players-so a reasonable length. There is plenty of replay value as well, with 3 difficulty endings and some unlockable options. The game can be a tad easy though, on account of regenerating magick that can be used to restore your health over and over again. and again. You may not want to trawl through it again once youve completed it as well, as the game loses a lot when you know the story. A good game despite the minor flaws, and one of the best games on the Gamecube.