Eternal Darkness Reader Review
I write to thee, as I have stumbled upon a strange journal. It tells tales of events that take place aeons ago. It is a dark tale. Not for thee, of faint heart. To tell you the truth, I haven't the faintest idea how it ever got through the tight grips of Nintendo's censors and, subsequently, onto the GameCube's mini-disc format. I will try to make sense of this manuscript, this tome. But I warn you.
It plays tricks with your mind.
But, you ask, where does it begin?
It all begins with the wrong man, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Pious Augustus just happens to be in the vicinity of an ancient temple, buried underground, when he just happens to be teleported down there. This also happens to have taken place 2000 years ago. Long story short, Pious claims and artifact. Or rather, the artifact claims him. And he sets out to bring Eternal Darkness upon the world.
It is then up to you, playing as various human beings at various important time periods, as the present you, Alex Roivas, discovers the journal that documents every single attempt at thwarting Pious' dark spell.
You'd be surprised at how often they've tried.
Pretty much, yeah. But I'll tell you, it's juicy. Every story intertwines in some delicate, or sometimes not so delicate, way. Each story has its own character, full of personality and uniqueness. None of them are alike. It is there that lies the game's greatest strength, really.
The game was originally intended for the Nintendo 64 but was deemed GameCube-worthy. It received a bit of a make-over, but it's still a bastard child of the 64 generation. Therefore the graphics aren't all that. But it still manages to impress on occasion. The animations are mostly flawless, each story's character having completely different sets of animation for almost every action. I'm sure this is common among games, but it's something I just happened to notice very well here, considering you play about fifty dozen different characters. And some cutscenes border on the amazing, as far as animation goes.
The controls are also wonderfully done. Coming straight from Resident Evil, you'll find this vastly superior. The camera, while sometimes straying into some weird places, seldom disappoints. The combat system is awesome. Triggering R aims your weapon at a monster, while pressing a direction aims at certain body parts. It was simple enough for me, so I think it's safe to say it's simple enough for everybody. (Get it? I'm saying I'm stupid!)
The voice acting is also, most of the time, brilliant. I've got to find out who playes Pious Augustus, because he's just genius. Just the right amount of power and insanity in his voice.
So, it's the best game in the world?
Well.. If you'd followed the game from it's development, or seen any advertisement for it, then you'd notice that I haven't at all touched on the much-hyped sanity system. Basically, it consists of a gauge that is drained each time the player encounters monsters. Sanity drops and in the process you start seeing things. Blood starts trickling down walls. Your TV may start acting strange. You may even think you're dead. If you then decide to 'Finish Off' the monster, you regain that previously lost sanity. There are other ways of getting out of the loony bin, though, which I'll speak of later.
Don't get me wrong, this sounds really cool. And it kind of is. There are plenty of moments where I actually said outloud "Ok, that was pretty neat. nay. Cool." I mean, and I'm going to go all out and ruin one moment for everyone, what's not cool about suddenly losing all your limbs and then one half of your entire body? And at one point it had me so on the nerves that I shot my medieval servant down, because he moved too quickly towards me. "He's coming right for me!" bang! It felt really weird. Pretty much the first time it really felt like I had killed someone in a computer game.
So, yeah. It can really mess with your head.
The problem is, the sanity system, while working pretty well through the first few chapters, starts going downhill after you get the Recover spell. You gain the spell pretty early on in the game, and can therefore regain sanity at will. Losing sanity therefore becomes more of a nuisance than a challange. Of course, you'll occasionally forget to cast that dear spell, but it's nothing that a slight bit of backtracking to a safe place and doing your black magic in piece won't heal. It becomes really unimportant unless facing against some of the harder enemies, like Gatekeepers, or whatever they were called.
The game is not without it's awkward moments, though. Most of the puzzles are far too easy, but then completely unevenly mixed with some super-hard ones. They're all pretty logical (of course, that's easy to say afterwards..) but it still feels like a pretty bad difficulty balance. The save system is plain awful. Each time you want to save you go through ten different dialogs, asking is you're really sure you want to save. If you die, the game goes all the way to the start of the CD, making you wait through the company logos. From there on you load your save, and because the computer has basically restarted the game, you have to wait for it all to load. Instead of just using what's in the RAM already, and just start the thing again, immediately. I guess it's one way of making death count in games. But I don't like it one bit.
I also just hate Trappers. They're annoying little things that trap you inside some make-believe domain that has no bearing what-so-ever on the story, is random everytime and just plain sucks. I'd like to find a spell to make them go poof out of this world.
I.. I'm not sure if I understand.. Should I buy it?
I'd say it's one of the best games you can find on the Cube. If you can afford it, then definately. If you like magic, unholy beings of destruction and massive towers made of human bodies, then this is the game for you. At the end of the day, it's the story that's the main attraction of this game. It's worth the price tag, I'd say.
8 / 10