Slick, polished, creepy, and alluring, Eternal Darkness raises the bar for what action adventure games should be and stands as the first example of a game that plays the player.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem has been a long time in coming. It originally started as an Nintendo 64 project, but when sales of that console went south, Nintendo decided the game would be better received on the GameCube. So after four years in development, Nintendo's first M-rated game for the GameCube is finally here, and the lengthy development cycle has resulted in an uncanny attention to detail that few games possess. Slick, polished, creepy, and alluring, Eternal Darkness raises the bar for what action adventure games should be and stands as the first example of a game that plays the player.
The game centers on the Roivas family and its ties to an ancient book called The Tome of Eternal Darkness. Behind the scenes, an evil force called the ancients has been scheming to harness the power of the book and overtake the world. One by one, each generation of the Roivas family comes into contact with the book, and the game chronicles the stories of them all. There are 12 different playable characters in the game, and their adventures all take place during distinct time periods. You'll play as a doctor during World War I, an architect, a firefighter, a monk during the Spanish Inquisition, and more. Tying all the storylines together is Alexandria Roivas, the latest and last in the family's bloodline. When she ventures to her grandfather's mansion to inquire about his death, the game's branching storyline is set into motion. Owing a great deal to the Indiana Jones films, the story of Eternal Darkness is deep and twisting, and one that will leave many characters dead and you in a state of disbelief.
A story isn't worth its weight in beans if it doesn't have the gameplay to back it up, and Eternal Darkness delivers in this regard with a gameplay experience like no other. First and foremost, it should be mentioned that you have full analog control over characters in Eternal Darkness, and it works flawlessly. If you push right on the analog stick, the character moves to the right, so you won't be aiming your character like you're forced to in the Resident Evil series. The 12 playable characters all have unique weapons and ratings for health, magic, and even sanity. In general, you'll control each character for a couple of hours before having to switch to a new one, at which point you'll need to get accustomed to how the next character moves and acts. You'll find that while some of the younger characters can run rather briskly and for long periods of time without tiring, some of the older characters are a bit more lethargic and run out of breath rather quickly. Similarly, some characters are more adept at using magic, while others rely more on their combat skills. Mastering each character is key to progressing through the game, and the large number of characters makes for an interesting, varied gameplay experience.
Like in most adventure games, there are some puzzles to be solved in Eternal Darkness, though they're fairly straightforward. You'll never have more than one or two puzzle-oriented items in your inventory at any given time, and figuring out where to use them will not induce any migraines. Backtracking and aimless wandering are also kept to a minimum, though some items are hidden in places that will take a keen eye to spot. The hand-to-hand combat features an interesting targeting system that allows you to concentrate on specific body parts of enemies. Each enemy has a weak spot, and finding this vulnerable area and attacking it is one of the keys to success. The melee interface can seem clunky and unresponsive when you get your first rush of multiple enemies, but you'll soon learn to trust in the system and realize that it works remarkably well. In many cases, the best strategy is to enter a room, behead all the enemies, and then take your time mopping up the headless masses. In addition to using the system to attack with swords and other melee items, the targeting can also be used with projectile weapons such as guns for more accurate strikes. Timing is the most important combat skill in Eternal Darkness, and this carries over to the game's magic system as well.
Just started this game, I'm about 2 hours in, and I've got to say it's kind of bland. I'm really hoping it gets better. I've waited a long time to play this game, it's on most every list of great horror games, but so far, I'm not seeing why.
Onimusha Warlords used pre-rendered backgrounds, which limited the gameplay quite a bit. ED renders everything, which means the visuals might not be as impressive as pre-rendered, but the gameplay opens up a lot.
10 years later and ED is considered a classic, where as Onimush Warlords isn't.
@Bgrngod The backgrounds may be pre-rendered in one game, but in character models, there's no excuse. ED's character models look likethey barely evolved from N64, compared to Onimusha's where they FAR exceed ANYTHING on PS1.
I don't know. I haven't played this game yet, but I think the graphics look weaker than Onimusha: Warlords, a PS2, formerly PS1 game (like how ED was supposed to be an N64 game, ironically), and PS2's are said to have weaker graphics capabilities than GameCube.