Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

Year: 2002
Platform: GameCube
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Silicon Knights
Genre: Survival/horror
Review Date: 12/28/02
Rating: ****

Two thousand years ago, an agent of evil was unleashed upon the Earth whose singular task was to bring about the destruction of mankind. Over the centuries, several people had made a difference in the war between light and shadow, and now it all comes down to a young woman named Alexandra Roivas. After her grandfather was brutally murdered, Alex begins investigating and discovers the fateful Tome Of Eternal Darkness. As she reads its tortured pages, she relives the adventures of those who stood against the darkness and starts to lose her mind. Will she be strong enough to face the eternal darkness when it comes to devour the Earth?

Nintendo continues to surprise the market by securing its place as a publisher of adult titles. While the "mature" rating may put some people off, it's because of intellectual content, not graphic sex and violence. This game is truly adult entertainment, with smart storytelling, thought provoking writing, and rich content. While the graphics may seem crude and cartoony at first, they quickly become completely immersive. The level design is simple and elegant, and the architecture is bold and foreboding. A very functional and good looking game. The sound is also superb, with haunting melodies and chilling sound effects that create a tense and creepy atmosphere. The controls are intuitive and easy to use, although the targeting system may take a few minutes to get used to. The biggest problem with the controls is that you can't move while fighting or reloading, and reloading often doesn't work at all. On countless occasions I was forced to leave the immediate area before I was allowed to reload my weapons, which was infuriating.

While Alex is the main character of the story, you spend an equal amount of time playing the twelve other characters who appear in the Tome Of Eternal Darkness. They range from monks and madmen, to dancers and journalists, and each has their own unique abilities and role to play in the story. While all of the characters are engaging and enjoyable, I was disappointed by how few female characters there are (only Alex and Ellia are playable). Unlike many games, however, this doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the game. The difficulty of the game is just about right - the goals are straight forward, the puzzles aren't too abstract, the monsters aren't frustratingly hard to deal with, and you can save your game almost anywhere (which I graciously appreciate). This isn't a "Resident Evil" knockoff, and it doesn't rely on "BOO!" scare tactics and punishing action sequences. It does, however, feature a creepy mansion, zombies, locked doors, secret passages, a grandfather clock puzzle, and a piano puzzle. But then again, so do lots of games in the genre (take "Silent Hill 2", "D2", and "Fatal Frame" for example).

And one final nuisance. How many times do I have to hear that awful "ugh" sound clip from the Hollywood Edge collection? It's just downright terrible, and it seems to crop up in games, movies, and TV shows all over the place. It's even been used in several projects that I've worked on, much to my chagrin. A minor complaint I know, but it really bugs me.