Video Game Thoughts: Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was a 2002 horror adventure game by Silicon Knights for the Nintendo GameCube. There was a lot of hype for this game since it had first been announced. It was originally a Nintendo 64 game, but Nintendo later pushed it to their new GameCube console. I followed the game from the beginning. It was interesting to see the original screenshots of the game with the lower quality Nintendo 64 graphics. The graphics got a nice upgrade on the new console.

By the time of the GameCube, Nintendo had become known for kids games. Nintendo said their games weren’t just for kids, they made games that everyone could play, but they were kids games to many gamers growing up. The PlayStation had done pretty well against the Nintendo 64 because of its large library of mature games. Teenagers loved these games. In order to compete Nintendo started commissioning more mature games for their new console. The first two to come out were Resident Evil and Eternal Darkness. Both of these were horror games, but Eternal Darkness had a much bigger scope.

The story spanned thousands of years, starting with Roman Empire times and continuing into the present day. According to the story, there were four gods, each one manipulating the events on Earth to gain power over the other gods. This whole story was framed by the story of Alexandra “Alex” Roivas exploring her grandfather’s mansion for clues as to why he was murdered. It was a pretty haunted place. Alex eventually found a book chronicling the events of the bigger story. Each chapter she read was another level, telling the story in a certain period of time. As she read chapters, more rooms in the mansion would open up to explore. Alex had to figure out who these gods were and find a way to stop them.

I loved the whole concept of the game. I was always eager to read the next chapter and then play out the story. While Resident Evil was a game more about survival, Eternal Darkness was a game more about the frights. It was pretty easy to kill the monsters that stood in the way, but there were many scary sights in this game. My favorite and scariest scene was upon entering a small bathroom. The screen flashed to reveal an image of Alex having been murdered and lying in the bathtub in her own blood.

Eternal Darkness had a special sanity meter. Whenever the character saw a scary thing, the meter would deplete a little bit. The further it went down the scarier the game got. Eventually, these things could even affect the player. The best sanity effect I remember was when it appeared the game was deleting all of my save files. When I first saw this, I really thought there was some bug in the game. I wasn’t scared of dying, but it would have been a serious loss of time. Luckily, a few moments later the screen flashed and the game was back to normal. Nothing had been lost. It really impressed me that I fell for some of the sanity effects.

The whole sanity thing was really original. No other game had done this. The Resident Evil series, the first and longest running horror game series, had never done this. Those games scared the player through survival. The enemies were very hard to fight and supplies were scarce. Eternal Darkness was a completely different kind of horror game. This was a game to play in pitch black on Halloween night.

Going back to the story, the developers started it a really cool way. The main character in the first chapter ended up being the main villain of the whole game. The player controlled the villain for this chapter. At the end, the player made a choice to follow one of the gods. This choice heavily influenced the story for the rest of the game. One god was more a side character and couldn’t be chosen, but one of the three other gods could be chosen for the villain to follow. Each god had their own characteristics that changed aspects of the later levels. I had played some games with branching stories, but none of them had done it so well. I played the game three full times to see everything it had to offer.

There were only two problems with this game. The first was that it was fairly short. I think it took me around thirty hours to beat it the first time. The second and third time, I knew how to solve all the puzzles, so it was even faster. After I had made all the choices and seen all the endings, there was just no reason to play it again. The game was more like a movie than a game. The gameplay was fun but heavily structured. Because of this, it never became one of my favorite games. I did replay it many times to see the story again though.

One good thing that came of this is that I was able to get my mom to play for a few hours. I normally couldn’t get her to play any of my games, but she could understand this game because it was more like a movie. She also liked reading murder mysteries when she was younger. The way the game started out with the mystery of the grandfather’s murder intrigued her. Still, I only got her to play for a couple hours. After this I mostly gave up trying to get my parents to understand video games. It is like they have some block in their brains that prevents them from being entertained by video games. Playing video games is just too much work to them. My mom occasionally plays free puzzle games on the computer, but for the most part, she doesn’t get into video games. My parents prefer passive entertainment such as movies and music.

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