And let me just get this out of the way before I begin with my trip down memory lane. This game is not just great; it's a bloody masterpiece.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is one of those games that, at the time, I didn't exactly play to death, but now, 9 years later, I constantly think back to as something rather special. And it really was; few games today are this original, this immersive, and this disturbing. Now, don't mistake my use of the word 'disturbing' for something blood-smeared with adrenaline-pumping, in-your-face moments of terror like Dead Space or Amnesia. True, Eternal Darkness has its fair share of blood, gore and violence, but that takes a backseat to something really unnerving. And that, ladies and gents, is the way this game messes with your head. The 'Sanity's Requiem' subtitle is not there just for show; sanity plays a crucial role in this game, both on a mechanical level, as well as how it affects you in real life.
|Pretty much sets the tone perfectly.|
But just what am I on about? Is it supposed to be so scary that you lose your mind? Well no, and it isn't. Truth be told, at a glance, it's not the scariest horror game out there (technically this is more adventure horror rather than survival horror). Enemies rarely tread into Silent Hill or Resident Evil level of scary, it's not nearly as atmospheric as modern horror titles, and you're generally well equipped for combat, unlike most survival horror games where you're forced to conserve ammo and health fastidiously. The real disruption of your brain cells comes from the sanity mechanics within the game.
See, sanity is one of the three bars you have within the game, alongside health and magick (mana, effectively). I honestly cannot remember how you regain it (likely through killing enemies), but as you lose it, you become more susceptible to the game's numerous 'sanity effects', and the game becomes much creepier, with added ambient sound effects and relentless audio and visual trickery. This is where things really get interesting, and where Eternal Darkness starts to separate itself from the pack. These effects are effectively hallucinations of sort, which can cause the character you're playing to spontaneously start walking on walls and ceilings, or have their limbs start falling off for no apparent reason in a bloody display, or...well...I don't want to ruin some of the really great stuff if you've got any notion of trying this game. But, for those of you who love spoilers, there are some examples below.
You've got your fairly tame sanity effects...
And then you've got the stuff that will cause your grasp on reality to slip far more than you'd think a video game had any right to do so.
Now, just watching the effects in succession, or reading about them, might make you think that they're nothing special. So they throw in some shock value, who cares? Thing is, it works; it really really works. You need to play the game to truly understand, but the long and short of it is, when you're this immersed in a game (and Eternal Darkness is that immersive), these randomized sanity effects hit you like a hammerblow. It is, so far as I know, still to this day completely unique in the world of gaming.
|The cast of characters really is impressively diverse, and the|
story...the story is unlike anything, in gaming or otherwise.
|Sure, it's 9 years old, so it's quite dated...but actually, it|
rather holds up even by today's standards. Imagine an
So, although this title was not a blockbuster, and although I did not actually play it beyond one playthrough (albeit fairly meaty at 20 odd hours), it's one of those that has really stuck with me over the years. Much more so than many more 'big' games of the time. I mean, if game publishers and developers are so insistent on 'remaking' games into HD versions, for the love of god, turn your attention to Eternal Darkness. Even if this game was just ported to XBLA or PC digital distribution like Steam, I would be ecstatic to play it again. Not only that, but I would be excited for others to be able to experience it, no doubt for the first time for many of them. It's brilliant, it's stunning, it's captivating...it's classic.