Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is a psychological horror game that messes with you on a whole different level. This game was developed by Silicon Knights, a game dev studio founded in 1992 that sadly closed down in 2014. Silicon Knights also created the Gamecube remake of Metal Gear Solid, as well as X-Men: Destiny for Gen 7 consoles and the DS. Eternal Darkness was their first game for the Gamecube and was a completely original way for game and player to interact.
When your Grandfather, Edward Roivas, is killed in his Rhode Island mansion, Alexandra Roivas is summoned, the main protagonist. During your exploration of the mansion, you stumble upon The Tome of Eternal Darkness. Upon touching the book, your control changes from Alex to Roman commander Pious Augustus in 26 BC. Here you will have to pick between three artifacts, each belonging to a different Ancient, a trans-dimensional deity. Whichever ancient you pick, Pious becomes his servant. Once you’re back in control as Alex, it’s up to you to find the different chapters to the Tome. Each chapter is hidden in a different place in the mansion. Through this process you will also be changing characters as you did with Pious before.
Over the course of Eternal Darkness you will get to play as 12 different characters from 26 BC all the way to 2000 AD. All of these characters are tied to not only The Tome of Eternal Darkness but also to each of the Ancients. The Ancients names are Ulyaoth, Xel’lotath, Chattur’gha, and Mantorok. Each of these ancients have a different affinity and color that is their strength and how to recognize them. Ulyaoth has magick powers and represents blue, Xel’lotath has mental powers and is green, and Chattur’gha has a focus on physical strength with the color red. These first three Ancients relate to the artifacts that you pick up as Pious. The fourth Eternal, Mantorok, is known as the “God of Chaos” and physically resides on earth.
As you play through Eternal Darkness, with each chapter Alex will gain more knowledge. This knowlege will inform the player of the story but also will help you progress through the mansion. The three artifacts from the beginning of the game are also the difficulty setting for the game. Chattur’gha’s minions are stronger with more attack power and health, Ulyoath’s monsters attack using magic, and Xel’lotath’s minions take away your character’s sanity. Each of these colors also have a rock, paper, scissors damage triangle to them. The chain is as follows: Blue -> Red -> Green -> Blue. These advantages and disadvantages require the player to select different colored spells and buffs.
On top of the eerie story and setting, there are a couple of features that really set apart Eternal Darkness. They are the magick systems and the sanity bar. In order to perform spells, you need alignment runes, one for each of the main three ancients, and other glyphs. You then use these to make up the 3, 5, and 7 point Circles of Power. Each of these glyphs has its own meaning that makes a spell make sense. An example of this could be Chattur’gha, known for strength, with the glyph for “absorb” and “self” creates a healing spell. The larger the circle of power, the more powerful the effect of the spell will be. The best part of this system was that it wouldn’t tell you what the combinations were. Over the course of the game you could collect all the runes, but if you never experiment in combining them, you’ll be stuck with no spells. You’ll definitely want to upgrade your spells too, as you are eventually able to summon the monsters you face to fight for you.
The next big feature of this game, and most stand out, is the sanity meter. There is a green bar on your screen that sits next to your Health and Magick that is used to monitor your sanity. The more good stuff you do the green bar will fill, but for getting spotted by an enemy or being attacked, this bar goes down. The lower the bar gets the more weird stuff starts to happen to not only mess with Alex but mess with the player directly.
Some of the standard issues to have during moments of low sanity include the camera skewing and strange noises being heard in the background. This can escalate to hearing children screaming, the walls bleeding, or even your character acting strange. You might wake up on the ceiling of a room or fake enemies could appear in the room as you lose your mind.
The most impressive part of this is that the game will also try to trick the player. If your sanity bar is too low, you can get fake disc read errors or the game will go quiet while a green “Mute” sign appears. These are intended to mess with the players mind so they can’t completely trust what they’re seeing themselves. There is a chance you won’t get to see all of the sanity effects in a single play through; I even had a case where my character sunk into the floor out of nowhere. Below is a video by YouTube user SuperHobbit89 showing off all the different effects you could experience.
The story and all of these great features come together to make Eternal Darkness as great a game as it is. It’s also worth noting that you only get the full ending of the game after completing it three times. Each time you start you have to select a different artifact.
Eternal Darkness is a game that was “in the horror genre, but not categorizes as survival/horror.” It was a game that aimed to create its own story and forge ahead instead of creating a plot to a horror film. There was also a sequel to Eternal Darkness that was meant to be created. Due to various complications between Silicon Knights and Epic Games though, they had to file for bankruptcy in 2014. Denis Dyack, the designer of Eternal Darkness, has been adamant about a sequel, however. Even after a couple of false starts and failed kickstarters, he is still committed to making Shadow of the Eternals. As of October 2014 Dyack even created a new company called Quantum Entanglement Entertainment to relaunch the development of this project, and it is even being considered for a film or television property at the moment.
All in all, it’s a game that won’t take you too long if you only want the one play through experience, but the story will keep you engrossed for hours. With plenty of different characters and settings, it’s difficult to get bored as once you start.
What did you think of Eternal Darkness? Would you recommend this game to a friend? Are you about to go dust off your GameCube like I’m about to?