Game Review

Mania Grade: A

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  • Platform: GameCube
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • Genre: Survival Horror
  • Players: 1
  • Save: Yes - any cleared room
  • Developer: Silicon Knights
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Graphics: A-
  • Sound: A+
  • Gameplay: A
  • Replay: A
  • Fun Factor: A+
  • Reviewer's Wild Card: A+
  • Overall: A


You'd be insane not to

By James Stevenson     July 03, 2002

Eternal Darkness
© 2001 Nintendo

Nearly complete for the N64 before being scrapped in favor of a GameCube release, ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITY'S REQUIEM, is Nintendo's first M-Rated title for the GameCube. Hopefully it will signal the end of the "kid-only" reputation that the Big N has come to garner since the N64 days.

ETERNAL DARKNESS starts gamers off as Alex - awoken by a late night phone call telling her she needs to come to her grandfather's home. Upon arriving, a detective has her verify that the gruesome body is indeed her grandfather's. Stumped for clues, the police give up, leaving only Alex to unravel the mystery.

Sounds like a simple survival horror game, right? Think again. The core of the story is wrapped around a book - a book that tells the stories of several other individuals over two millennia. You'll play in several key locations in different time periods as characters ranging from journalists, monks, and even messengers. All play a role in the story that unfolds, and each story allows Alex to learn the skills needed to progress to the next one.

Eternal Darkness

If you're looking for RESIDENT EVIL, you may be surprised. There is a lot of combat that is encouraged; you'll use quite a few swords and pick up some projectile weapons as well. The combat system is innovative in that it allows you to target individual sections of your enemy's body. It's particularly effective for removing limbs or heads to lessen the immediate danger.

Another aspect much different from RESIDENT EVIL is the tight control scheme. The controls move fluidly and allow you to easily navigate the levels, and fight very effectively. You also have a run button, but it can't be used continuously, as your character will eventually begin huffing and puffing and need to slow down.

All of this walking around recharges your "magick" meter. Magick spells are acquired by finding runes, the codex to decipher it, the scroll to give you the recipe, and the power circle to set it all up. Once you learn a spell, you can use it as long as you have enough magick to cast it. Spells are used to finish puzzles, summon monsters, attack/defend in combat, as well as recover health and sanity.

Sanity is another great addition. As enemies spot you (or cast certain effects on you) your sanity will slowly decrease. As it decreases, many strange effects will begin to happen, and make you wonder what is real, and what not is real. Eventually, if you run out of sanity, your health is sapped in its place. To make everything more interesting, characters have different amounts of health, sanity, and magick.

Eternal Darkness

All of these elements come together to form a very unique game that you haven't played before. The puzzles, while they aren't very difficult, are fairly well designed, and the combat for the most part is good. I was frustrated with some of the cheap deaths, but thanks to the ability to save anywhere this isn't that big of an issue. I wasn't exactly challenged. The enchant item spell is extraordinarily powerful and makes blazing through rooms of enemies much easier, even if the character you are using has a small health bar.

In addition, gamers who are willing to play through the game three times (there is a choice early on) will be rewarded with a special ending. And with how well ETERNAL DARKNESS plays, it's definitely going to persuade some gamers to drop that much of their time.

Graphically, ETERNAL DARKNESS isn't that much of a technical marvel. While the game runs smooth, nothing will really make you drop your jaw. However, the artistic style of the game is quite good and I was fairly impressed with the attention to detail.

The sound is incredible, though. With some of the best music I've ever heard in a videogame, the game is haunting and chilling in all the right places. With Dolby Pro Logic II support, you'll also get surround sound, which is incredible with some of the creepy things you'll be hearing. Not many games have done this good a job of immersing me in their world.

ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITY'S REQUIEM is a must-own if you meet the requirements to play this mature-rated title. It's a fantastic game that will suck you in and not let go until it's through with many hours of your life. You'd be insane not to pick this one up.


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