Written by  :  Jeff Clawson (7)
Written on  :  Nov 05, 2003

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The One That Changed Me

The Good

You're always gonna read about games that everyone loves. The Mario's; the FFVII's; the Halo's; the GTA's; the Captain Novalin's; these games just work and they work pretty much everybody. Then there is the small pantheon of games that only a few people played, but those who did hold them up as the greatest of all time. The Maniac Mansion's; the ICO's; the Chrono Trigger's; the Revolution X's; lesser known to the masses, but revered by those that love to play them. Eternal Darkness is definitely a classic game that sold disappointingly, but hopefully will garner enough positive attention to warrant a sequel. Moving beyond that, for every video game fan, there is an even smaller list of games that just simply change you. Every so often, and I mean once every six years or so, you play something that just engrosses you in its perfection. An experience, whether story-driven, graphics-driven, reality-driven, that simultaneously punches you in the gut and gives you an orgasm. A video game so original, so polished, so infectious that you devote extra time to it, you think about it when you're not playing it, and you tell everyone with working ears about it. Eternal Darkness is that game, for me. I bought it, on a whim, at a Blockbuster in December of 2002 (mind you, this is a good six or seven months after renting it, not really doing much after the first level, and forgetting about it); I played it non-stop through the end of January. Everything about this game appealed to me: analog control scheme, brilliant/engrossing story, convincing voice-overs, great urine-inducing soundtrack (you find me one person who claims they didn't piss themselves the first time they hear that heavy-breathing, whispering effect that happens about every 45 seconds, and you've found the deaf man I've been looking for), beautiful graphics, cherished characters, what's not to like? Sure, "survival horror" fans gave a unison, "been there, done that" shrug, and I say to them, you're stupid. You're a big, fat stupid-head who eats pretzels. Aside from the perfect list I've already given, I submit to you the most original aspect of the game: the sanity meter. This device is worth alone the purchase of the game. Every time you see a monster, your sanity lowers; as it lowers, you start to see things. Your character enters a room and spontaneously disembodies himself; you see images of yourself lying in blood in the bathtub; blood drips from the walls. And, when your sanity gets ridiculously low, gone is the environment messing with you/your character, and the game starts to mess with you/the player. Volume meters pop up, controller error screens bark at you, the image goes blank; if this isn't genius to you than we're not going to agree on much. I like models over CGI in Star Wars, anyday. I think just because they crap out another Mega Man game, I don't have to buy it. I think Blood Work is a decent film (and there's really no one who agrees with me there, so that one's kind of exempt). And I think anyone who hates Eternal Darkness without giving it a chance is a total douche.

The Bad

Pronouncing the villians' names.

Not getting five minutes to blow crap up with Pious' staff (If I were Matel, I'd be pissed).

The advertisement for an Eternal Darkness sequel only being part of the illusion-based sanity effect and not being pronounced a reality...yet.

The Bottom Line

Like Final Fight, but with less crap and more gooder.