Saturday, September 11

Game review - Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

    Holy Crap! How did I miss this gem last generation? No joking, this is a really, really good game and I just played through it for the first time. For those who haven’t heard of this masterpiece, Eternal Darkness is a survival horror game exclusive to the Nintendo Gamecube. It also happens to be one of the, if not the best survival horror video game in history. Let me give you a number of reasons why.

1.    Epic story. Throughout the game you play as 12 different characters, each in a different time period over 2000 years. What you’re trying to do with these 12 characters is stopping the ancients from dooming the world to eternal darkness. The main character is Alexandra Roivas, who’s investigating her Grandfather’s mysterious and gruesome death. She ends up fighting the demons of the ancient world and defending the entire human race while doing so.

2.    It proves that you can have good controls and still have a scary game. Ok, there’s this argument that Resident Evil fans like to throw around stating that survival horror games need to have clunky controls to be scary. In any of the older RE titles, as well as a number of other horror titles, you basically move like a tank. The characters turn slowly and often have to pause to do anything. Not in Eternal Darkness – your character will instantly move in the direction you move the joystick, the button configuration is simple enough that you’ll learn it within a minute, and the camera controls quite nicely. The game even has a targeting system where you can lock onto a specific enemy and target specific body parts on them, which is quite remarkable for a survival horror game. But despite all this, the game is challenging enough that I had trouble fighting my way through several rooms. Considering I often play through one or two games for the first time every week, usually on hard, that’s saying something. But is the game scary? Well, that brings me to my next point.

3.    Insanity meter. Seriously, this revolutionary concept is very well executed and hasn’t even been attempted since. I won’t explain the specifics, but the sanity meter represents the mental state of the playable character. As the sanity bar drops, the character’s sense of reality starts to warp. They’ll start hallucinating, hearing noises. Eventually, things start to happen to the game to fool you. For example, there’s one point where the current playable character begins sinking into the floor. There was also a moment where “Mute” appeared on the screen and all the sound went dead. These are just examples, and trust me – I haven’t spoiled any of the scarier ones. Beyond the character’s warped sense of reality (or your own for that matter), if the sanity bar drops far enough it will start depleting your health bar as well.

4.    This game is art. There are still plenty of people out there who argue that gaming can never be art; this game is proof to the contrary. It does things that only videogames can do, like fooling you into thinking that it’s glitching on you. It tells a compelling and complete story that still leaves room for interpretation.  It will freak you out and make you laugh at the same time. I could go on, but to sum thing up, this game is art.

    So to sum thing up, this game really impressed me. I’m not usually too big on this genre (most horror movies and games bore me), but I enjoyed everything about this game. It’s not my favorite game by any means, but I certainly enjoyed it enough to play through it again someday.  If survival horror adventure games are your cup of tea be sure to hunt this down and play it - you won’t be disappointed.

Two word review - Awesomely Original

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