Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
Critic Reviews add missing review
Average score: 90% (based on 77 ratings)
Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 107 ratings with 9 reviews)
Things weren't going well for Alex Roivas. Her grandfather was murdered in his mansion and the police were baffled by the horrific crime. Alex was sure that the clues to her grandfather's death lay somewhere within the mansion's walls so she's checked every nook and cranny for any information. And then, in a hidden room, she found a book: the Tome of Eternal Darkness. The Tome of Eternal Darkness does two things: it gives its owner magic powers and shatters their senses.
Eternal Darkness follows the adventures of twelve playable characters who discover the Tome, the existence of otherworldly beings, and the struggle to save humanity. Taking place over a staggering 2000 years, Eternal Darkness trots the globe with the best of them and is a terrific third-person adventure just this side of survival horror. After Alex discovers the Tome, she reads the first chapter, "The Chosen One" about Roman Centurion Pious Augustus.
Pious's level introduces the Dark Gods and their minions. There are three gods vying for supremacy: Chattur'gha, Ulyaoth, and Xel'lotath. Each one has a difference color associated with them: red, blue, and green. Red is also the color of the life bar, blue of the magic, and green of the sanity. There is an important connection here. Each dark god has their own school of minions including the traditional walking dead, gigantic Horrors, somewhat innocuous Trappers, and Bonethieves who like to hide inside people.
After Pious's level, Alex finds a clue about where the next chapter page is hidden in the mansion. This model follows for each of the chapters in Eternal Darkness, with the level in the past revealing more of the story and Alex gaining new spells and gaining more hints about her grandfather's death. With this new information, Alex can uncover more of the story, and what a story!
By all rights, Eternal Darkness shouldn't work. The chapter structures are repetitive and there is a tendency to revisit the same locations over and over again. It's formulaic, but effective, with enough interesting characters, interesting spells, interesting puzzles, and interesting variations of the same area to hold the player's interest. For instance, the first time you visit a French church, it's as Anthony, a young man trying to warn Charlemagne about a cosmic conspiracy. Six hundred years later a monk is at a cathedral in the same area, during the time of the Inquisition. Four hundred years after that, a journalist is stationed at the cathedral, now converted to handle the wounded from the First World War.
The characters are also not variations of the same skin. Portly Maximillian Roivas waddles around his mansion, but doesn't have the best sanity (he can perform quick autopsies though). Karim, a Persian adventurer, is a strong fighter with good health, but isn't as fast as Ellia, a Cambodian dancer. Michael Edwards isn't the best magic user, but his firefighter physique gets put to good use. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses, their skills and abilities.
I hesitate to call this a Survival Horror game, even though it hearkens back to the original Alone in the Dark. You usually have more than a flashlight and a .45 and there's a devastating magic system to learn. Also, you usually aren't outnumbered enemy-wise. Jumping back to weapons, I found melee weapons to be much more effective than ranged weapons, so I never worried about ammo. The game does have its scares, but it has a more effective sense of foreboding.
Each dark god has their own school of magic: red, green, or blue. Runes found by the adventures can be connected together in a circle of power, under one of the dark gods' schools, to create a spell (and add it to the Tome of Eternal Darkness). You can create a spell through trial and error or uncover a scroll that lists the required runes, and experiment with the different magic schools to see what the different effects are. The colors trump each other (and there's a hidden school that trumps everything). Understanding the color system makes life much easier—since you can enchant weapons, create magical shields, and unleash magical attacks it is nice making them as effective as possible.
There's a reason why the subtitle is "Sanity's Requiem". If your health bar drops, you die. If your magic bar drops, you can't cast spells. If your sanity bar drops, you go nuts—gloriously, ravingly bonkers! Not only does your character hallucinates, seeing blood dripping from walls, monsters which aren't there, shooting themselves while reloading, and more, but <u>you</u> hallucinate, too! Your TV turns off or switches video modes, the controller stops working, saved games are erased… psyche. Talk about a game playing you.
Just two complaints: let me replay levels and let me skip cutscenes (one section has a long cinematic coupled with a tough battle).
The Bottom Line
Eternal Darkness is as Lovecraftian as they come, but it opens with a Edgar Allan Poe quote. Either the Cthulhu cultists are holding on the copyright or this is Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe's The Haunted Palace all over again. Anyway, this is one of the great games buried on an iffy platform. This is horror gaming at its best with twenty hours of fresh gameplay compared to the scant handful of hours you can spend in Silent Hill or Raccoon City. I highly recommend borrowing a GameCube to play this game.
GameCube · by Terrence Bosky (5375) · 2004
Wow! For the first time since the original Alone in the Dark and "Legacy: Realm of Terror", a "horror" game that is really creepy instead of just gory. The game story is interesting and well-told, and the game is not so difficult that you won't be able to finish the story. While nowhere near as complex as the two classics I mentioned, let alone a Lovecraftian novel or FtF game, the story is still a little deeper than the usual "survival horror" genre story.
The visuals are up to modern standards - the main protagonist in particular is rendered completely realistically, though some of the ancillary characters like servants and nurses in historical settings are too dark and a bit polygon-ey.
The sound, though, is extremely well-done and extremely well-used to convey the mood, especially of your character's Sanity. At full sanity, you get background music and atmospheric sounds. With a little sanity loss, you start hearing phantom noises. Then the music fades and is replaced by formless, wordless voices and whispers. By the time your sanity hits bottom you are surrounded by hallucinatory voices and screams. The voices of the Ancients are also both well scripted and well rendered - the first time I heard the Ancient of Madness speak it sent shivers up my spine, and I plan to play the game through twice more to see the variations with each of the other options for which Ancient is plotting to return, at least as much to hear their voices as to earn the final special ending.
The other main "sanity" effect, the programmed hallucinations, is also extremely effective. The game is immersive enough that some of the "player-level" hallucinations combine with the haunting sound environment to provide a sense of reality shock, instead of seeming cheap the way they might out of context. The "character level" hallucinations vary in effectiveness, from stock psychological melodrama to eerie reality warps.
The framework of the story, taking control of various historical characters as your main character "reads" their biographies in the Book, is a nice, consistent way to get some of the advantages of a time travel plot without the big problems of fitting such a high-ramification thing consistently into a GameCube mini-CD game. The way the player recognizes the locations of earlier entries as later ones encounter them centuries later - exactly like the character reading the Book would - is particularly clever. There's a great deal of care taken for internal consistency, which is something I've learned not to expect from most console RPGs, let alone "survival horror" games.
Of course, so much quality density uses up storage space very quickly. The game is a little short, perhaps 12 hours of playtime. Even if you play through all three times, that's less than 40 hours which is very short by my standards.
And although it's disguised very well and with great consistency, the actual play is rather linear. Locks, magical force fields, magical illusions, the reasons why you are forced to go through each sub-story in a particular order, and to do things in a particular order within a substory, are well-done and don't feel arbitrary, but they are definitely there. Certainly this is the least annoyed I've ever been by linearity, and linearity is after all the norm on console games.
The Bottom Line
When I bought my GameCube, I completely expected a poor selection of games that I'd like. I wanted to play the remake of Skies of Arcadia, and to use the GBA Player, and I wasn't surprised that there was basically nothing else I wanted to play. Then I found this game. I suddenly feel that the GameCube purchase was not a waste. This is the most pleased I've been with a console game in years - I think since the original Skies of Arcadia back on the Dreamcast. Intelligent horror, well done, with a real, effective sense of creepiness instead of cheap gore. Wonderful!
GameCube · by weregamer (155) · 2004
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.
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.
GameCube · by Jeff Clawson (6) · 2003
Eternal Darkness is an excellent game of the horror genre, putting it at the same level as the Silent Hill series. While the production is not nearly as terrifyingly real as the SH series, ED has several unique features that make most Cthulu fans smile.
One of the most interesting is the Sanity meter. It measures how well grounded your character is with the 'real' world, and anytime that you encounter mystical and unnatural beings, your sanity will decrease. The most interesting feature about the lack of sanity is that it has a direct correlation to how the game interacts with you. Whereas in other games, it might simply be considered another attribute, along with health and mana, in ED, it affects gameplay, by creating illusory monsters, fake rooms, and strange video errors.
The storyline, about an ancient evil rising from beyond time and space, is a classic one, and they didn't do it wrong in ED.
There are chapters of the game where you are dangerously under-equipped. Without proper guidance, those places can be very difficult and repetitive, as you replay the same scenes over and over again, in order to find a way through it.
The Bottom Line
A great game if you are a fan of Lovecraftian Horror. If not, then it is just a good game in the horror genre.
GameCube · by kawaii (18) · 2003
The story opens with young Alex Roivas receiving a call to identify her grandfather's body-- he recently experienced a mysterious death that left him as nothing more than a pile of bloody flesh. Alex vows to search the old mansion for clues, and in doing so, uncovers a dark family secret: a huge book in her grandfather's study attracts Alex's attention, and it is through this book, the Tome of Eternal Darkness, that the story unfolds.
Your avatar changes as you complete each chapter of the Tome. All the characters come together to tell of the Tome's historical accounts, and the purpose behind the book itself.
Though the concept of basing a game around a book instead of its characters is certainly unique, it's not ED's strongest selling point. That would be your Sanity Meter--a glowing, green vial that tracks how kooky your character's mind becomes after you are attacked. When your sanity begins to fade, the game will do things to mess with your mind: tilt the camera, make you see dripping blood from the walls, and make you appear upside-down in a room--and those are some of the milder effects. The stronger, more brain-tickling pranks will genuinely make you angry, frustrated, frightened, or confused: the TV will appear to suddenly shut off, or your character will spontaneously split apart, for example. ED is survival-horror done right: you're dropped into monster-ridden territory with limited weapons, a magickal book, and only your wits to guide you. It's not anywhere near as difficult as Resident Evil, and the fact that you play through different periods of history with an alternate-universe twist gives ED a lot more credit in my book.
With copious amounts of blood, gore, death, references to the occult, and plenty of creepy- crawlies and scary moments, this is very much a grown-up's game--but MAN, what a great game it is! For all those momentarily fed up with kiddie games on the 'Cube, snatch this treasure up from the video game store's bargain bin and put some hours into it--you won't be disappointed.
The game in my opinion was too short (perhaps 13 hours long). They should let you play scenes again.
The Bottom Line
I mean, really? What can you say about a videogame that truly transcends its medium?
Eternal Darkness is a masterpiece of storytelling. The best way to describe it is as an interactive novel. I was hooked. I didn't stop playing until I finished the baby.
There were great moments, like there are with any piece of cinema, when the use of music, dialogue and story subversion created moments so exhilarating and original, that it suddenly becomes incredibly sad that it isn't going to reach the wide audience that it so deserves.
Go. And buy it now.
GameCube · by SiriusCrane (8) · 2007
Sanity meter, What more do I have to say? This was the first game I have ever seen with such a thing. Once it gets low, your character starts seeing things that don't exist, situations that haven't happened. Once the meter gets low enough, it starts messing with the player, popping up error messages and messing with the volume. Pure and utter genius.
The idea of 3 different plots was great, each revolving around either Ulyoth, Xelotath, or Chatturga. The plots don't change much, but the bad guys do.
The format of the game, the girl going to her fathers house, the way the game is played through in chapters was great, my favorite chapters being playing as the girl's father, and as her great-great some-odd grandfather.
The game can get VERY repetitive when you don't know what you are doing.
The Bottom Line
I bought game-cube just to play this game.
GameCube · by Boris Stovich (26) · 2004
Eternal Darkness is rather similar to Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil, but avoids the "dull bits" present in those games with meticulous attention to pacing and advancement.
Early choices have far-reaching implications, which are lost on people who play through only one time. Also, the save game file is much larger than it needs to be, which is a bother.
The Bottom Line
It's Resident Evil for people who didn't like Resident Evil.
GameCube · by Simon Strange (58) · 2003
Eternal Darkness, from Silicon Knights, was originally intended for the N64 console. After years of lingering in developers hell, the game was finally released for the Gamecube. It was the very first game I got for my Gamecube, and it is one of the best for the console, and also one of the reasons that I wanted one.
In Eternal Darkness, you play as Alex Rovias, as well as 11 others, whom all play a role in defeating the Eternal Darkness. Which is an ancient evil deity, not unlike Lovecraft’s “Great Old Ones”. The game spans the world, from Ancient Persia, Medieval France, and Modern New England. And has a good 15 hours. The game also has pretty good replay value. There are also some unlockables. As in the beginning, you choose which rune to take red, green, blue. Each changes the game slightly. Red makes monsters harder, blue drains magicka, and green drains sanity.
Each playable character has there own weapons and quest. Weapons include melee and ranged. Each also has varying stats. But you must find the magicka. Which transfer to each new character. Runes come in three powers. Three, five and seven point spells. Spells have a wide variety of effects from healing to shields.
In Eternal Darkness you have to watch your health and magicka, and well as your sanity. The Sanity effects are one of the coolest features of Eternal Darkness. It does not have the subtitle of Sanity’s Requiem for no reason. The effect occur when your sanity gets to low. Effects range from grisly ones like characters accidentally shooting themselves, and goofy ones like the display of the volume being lowered. It does not actually lower. One of the coolest is when the game shows a screen saying Thanks for playing the demo!
The Graphics are pretty good. But not Gamecube power. But then again it was designed for the N64. And it was a launch title. It is the character models that suffer the most here. The spells and environments look fantastic.
The Sound department excels. The voice acting is excellent. Particularly the voice of the Ancients. The sound effects are all creepy as they should be. The music takes a backseat here but is still well done.
Why do you have to create the spell every time you get a new rune? Like the five and seven point runes, once acquired you must re-make the more powerful spell. Which is a real pain in the arse. The game also suffers from many horror game flaws, such as constant back tracking. And having to use and item like a key instead of it being automatically used.
The Bottom Line
Along with Call Of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth, Eternal Darkness is one of the best horror games of recent years. And the references to Lovecraft and Poe are cool.
GameCube · by MasterMegid (723) · 2006
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem features gameplay spanning two thousand years of history, from the year 2 B.C. to 2000 A.D. You start as Alex Roivas, and your objective is to find who or what murdered your grandfather in the family mansion in Rhode Island. Along the way you will discover the dark secrets of the family and save the world. The game is divided into chapters, which are part of the Tome of Eternal Darkness, a chronicle of the saviors the world has never known about. During a chapter you will play as the chapter's character. Between chapters you play as Alex, and attempt to find the next chapter page.
The variety of characters and locations is enjoyable, as are the various weapons that each character uses. The magick system is truly unique and suprisingly intricate, while the game also introduces the concept of sanity. Each monster you face subtracts from your sanity, and as you gradually go insane your character begins to hallucinate. Walls begin to drip blood, ammunition appears on the floor, bugs crawl on your screen, and perhaps you even turn into a zombie. The music adds perfectly to the tense atmosphere, which builds to the final confrontation of good versus evil.
Unfortunately, while a figure of sixty hours of gameplay has been lobbed about, that is far from the truth. The first time through the game may take you about twenty hours, but the puzzles do not change from game to game, only the cutscenes. Also, the puzzles are the weakest chain in the game. Most consist of countering one magick type with another, and once you've figured out the basic idea all the rest are ridiculously simple. However, the most egregious example of the puzzles takes place late in the game where the player is forced to repeat a puzzle that was completed in a previous chapter. There is no change, simply the same half-hour long repetition. Additionally, some players will find the total lack of extra ammunition for the guns irritating in the extreme. Finally, while it doesn't particularly effect gameplay, by the time you watch your fortieth bone and paper zombie spurt several gallons of blood you'll be thoroughly sick of the whole thing.
The Bottom Line
If you want an H.P. Lovecraft style romp through history, slashing monsters at every turn, this game is for you. If you'd prefer a more straight forward hack and slash, or a Tomb Raider style blaster, you're better off steering clear of this game.
GameCube · by Shadowcaster (252) · 2002