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Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

This game can still give me chills.

It's no secret that the Gamecube is a little lacking in the mature games department. It has the Resident Evil series, and there are games like Metroid Prime and Smash Bros. that might appeal to an older audience, but outside that, there's not much to look to. Except for Eternal Darkness, of course. When someone says ''mature game'', most people think immediately of blood, guts, and cussing. Eternal Darkness is mature on another level; its story is one of the finest and darkest ever told in a video game. It has its fair share of blood and guts, but the thing that makes this an adult game is its plot and the general mood. Simply put, this is one of the only mature games that really is ''mature''. It's also one of the best games I've ever played. 

Don't let the still screen shots fool you; this is a beautiful game. The character models are detailed and their movement is smooth and realistic. Environments look almost as good as those seen in Resident Evil, and they're all 3D; none of that 2D still background crap. There are a lot of moments in this game that will make you just sit back and say ''wow''; one in particular is later in the game, when you're running through a cathedral during World War I. 

Cinema scenes aren't entirely graphics-driven, but the movies in this game are some of the best I've seen. Most are done in real-time, and they look amazing. For a game that had its beginnings on the N64, Eternal Darkness is simply beautiful. There are a few CG movies that are of somewhat low quality, but it's no big deal. 

Spell effects are interesting. When you cast a spell in this game, runes are drawn on the ground. They ignite in a clock-wise circle around you, and when all of them have powered up, the spell is unleashed. There isn't a whole lot of ''wow'' when it comes to the look of the magic system in action, but it's sort of understandable. The spell effects that are here fit the rest of the atmosphere; if they were too flashy or explosive, it might've taken away from the overall mood of the game. 

One thing a lot of people overlook in this game is the art; some truly brilliant stuff here. From the actual artwork that lines the walls of the mansion to the general look of some of the environments in the game; all of it conveys a certain feeling of its own making. The architecture is also very well done. 

Yes, it sounds good, too. Some of the weapon sounds are a little weak, but everything else is solid. The music sets the mood perfectly, as do the odd mumblings and cries that ring in your ears when the Sanity meter begins its ascent. Also, whenever you cast a spell in this game, a booming voice speaks aloud the runes that make up that spell; it's very well done. 

The real star of the show, however, is the voice acting, which may very well be the best I've ever heard. Each and every character is voiced perfectly. Of particular note is the man that does the voice of Maximillian Roivas; if they gave awards to voice actors, this man would take home the lot. 

At first glance, it might look like it plays like Resident Evil, but the moment you pick up the controller, you realize that it's in fact nothing like that game. You move with the control stick as you would move in say, a Zelda game. None of that ''turning in place'' stuff. You use the A-Button to attack, X to sneak (this can also be accomplished by slightly tilting the control stick), R to enter targeting mode (more on that later), L to run, and the control pad and Y button to cast assigned quick-spells. It works flawlessly. 

I'm not going to ruin the story if you have yet to play this game. This is one of the best stories you're going to see in a video game, period. Eternal Darkness weaves a tale of psychological horror spanning thousands of years (and around a dozen characters); it's honestly fit for a movie. 

Graphics, sound, good control, and a great story are all good and fun, but none of it matters if the game itself isn't fun to play. Luckily, Eternal Darkness is a blast. 

The combat system is one of the most innovative I've ever seen, this side of Zelda. You can tap the ''A'' button continuously for a nice 3-hit combo to give you some room, or you can pull the R-Button and enter targeting mode. When you do this, part of one enemy's body with begin to flash, indicating that that's where you're targeting. While holding the R-Button, you can move the control stick left or right to target the enemy's arms, or up to target its head. Let me tell you, there's nothing as satisfying as lopping the head off of a zombie and watching him stumble around aimlessly.

If the kick-ass combat system isn't enough, you've got the magic system. Each spell is composed of 3 things; a power circle (which determines how powerful the spell is; the more points on the circle, the more powerful it is, and the longer it takes to cast), an alignment, and runes, each of which has its own power. As you progress through the game, you'll collect these runes. From there, you can either wait until you discover a spell scroll and let the game slap the spell together for you, or go off on your own and try to make some spells. On your first time through the game, this can be very, very fun. As I said, the runes that make up the spells each represent a certain power of factor; for example, there's a ''Creature'' rune and a ''Summon'' rune. Put them together with the alignment of your choice, and you have a spell that will summon a creature. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The spell selection might seem a little limited at first, but you have to take into consideration the fact that each spell has three variations; one for each alignment. This means there are around 3 times as many spells than there appears to be. 

With that many spells, it'd be a chore to have to sift through the menus every time you wanted to cast something. Realizing that, Silicon Knights put in a quick-spell system. You simply put together the spell and assign it to one of the four primary directions on the D-Pad, or the Y-Button. That's five spells you can cast immediately. You can change your quick-spell sets at any time, so menu sifting isn't a problem here. 

I went into detail about combat earlier, and I guess I should point out the weapons you'll be using to engage in that combat. This game spans a large span of time, and the arsenal is truly diverse. Weapons range from a gladius to a shotgun; a blowgun to a Lee-Enfield rifle; a French Flintlock pistol to a Colt .45. There are many, many more on top of those, and all of the weapons are represented exceptionally well, not only in the way they're used but also in the detailed descriptions given to each. 

This game is called Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem for a reason; it will pray on the sanity of the characters, and you. The green bar on the screen is the Sanity meter, representing, well... your character's sanity! Running into different monsters causes this meter to deplete. As your sanity disappears, you'll be experiencing some really bizarre stuff. Again, I don't want to risk ruining something for someone, so I'll just leave this one at that. This game will mess with your head. 

Like all good games, Eternal Darkness eventually comes to an end. Of course, there are three paths to play through. They aren't very different from each other, but you'll notice a few things; for one, you'll run into different monsters. The biggest reason to play through this game all three times is that... well... See, there I go again, ready to ruin the story. Suffice to say, the main reason to play through it all three times is for the story. 

It's not often that we get a game like Eternal Darkness. Everything about it just oozes quality and innovation. It's sad that a game as good as this sort of slipped by without getting much attention; it was one of the worst selling GameCube games if I recall correctly. Luckily for Wii U owners, Precursor Games is finally returning us to the realm of Eternal Darkness with a spiritual successor titled Shadow of the Eternals. 

If you're a mature gamer looking for a good adventure/horror game with an excellent combat system, an innovative magic system, and one of the best stories ever told in a video game, you can't go wrong with Eternal Darkness. This is one of the best GameCube games there is, and indeed one of the best games out there.

Review by Streex


+ Story with great depth
+ Creative magic system
+ Cool weapons
+ Plenty of enemies to satisfy your hacking-and-slashing needs
+ Wide range of characters to play as
+ The sanity effects are an interesting element
+ Beating the game three times gives you some new game options
+ Excellent voice acting
+ Feature which allows you to play any part of a game you want 
+ Invincible mode


- Inconsistent graphics
- Battles can grow boring
- Only about three different enemies
- Sanity effects can become a hindrance
- Very linear gameplay

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