Review / Test:
Eternal Darkness is one of the most imaginative and fascinating games I've played for years. I'm afraid it hasn't been successful enough because many people thought it was just another survival horror and, if they had Resident Evil, they didn't need this one. That's utterly wrong. Resident Evil and Eternal Darkness have as much in common as Final Fantasy and Zelda. Both are different, both are interesting to play.
Eternal Darkness is a brilliant example of how to properly adapt as a video game some film ideas, techniques and style. There are some videos in the game, but they never break the playing process (like some other games on some other systems do...), they are just used as necessary introduction for the stories to come. The main character, Alex Roivas, a young woman whose grand father died in a mysterious and horrible way, is going to learn about a terrible secret rooted in mankind history through the stories of 12 characters, and her own, that the player will control. The narration is a delight. Though 4 of the stories actually have the same location, they are quite different because of the characters, of the time and the changes, and because of the story itself. So, each time a new story is about to begin, it's a thrill to discover who is going to be your new character, at which time the event occurs and, later, what has changed. As you can expect from a Nintendo game, the control is very good. You need almost no time to get used to it. Silicon Knights put a great sense of realism into the game. Each character has a different constitution, some are young and athletic, some are not, it doesn't change the basic controls but it alters their running speed, their life/sanity/magic points. They also use different weapons, historically accurate. Weapons knock against the wall in a narrow corridor, your character is breathless after running and other surprises ! The fights, the magick and the sanity effects are very well done too, thanks to several great ideas: you can target the limbs during a fight, search for a spell by combining runes, and experience the most unexpected madness effects ! "Is this really happening !?" Just for these things, the game is worth playing.
There's so much good to say about Eternal Darkness, but also a few drawbacks: the game is quite directive and lacks of freedom, it all takes place indoors and the rooms are quite small, in the end with the last characters it may feel redundant, especially to revisit some places for the third time. With a bit more freedom and outdoor scenes, some more elaborated enigma and a few more new places, Eternal Darkness could have easily grabbed a well deserved 10 mark.
Samurai Nintendo thinks this game is for adults only
Official story and features:
"In a story that spans space and time, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem introduces 12 controllable characters through the last 2000 years of history, from ancient Rome to modern day. The story revolves around a young woman, Alexandra Rovias, who travels to Rhode Island to investigate the mysterious death of her grandfather. As the game unfolds, Alexandra experiences events through the game's other characters and eventually discovers the secret of human history."
Story from Silicon Knights site
"- Mature "psychological" thriller: a smart and compelling storyline stretching through 20 centuries, intended for players 17 and older
- Play as 12 different characters, each with their own special abilities
- Sanity System adds new levels of unpredictability to the game play experience, causing the player to question each step taken in the game
- Each character battles enemies with historically accurate weapons and a unique enemy targeting system
- Game features a groundbreaking animation engine; brings characters to life with emotional responses based on current situations
- Superior 3D engine, including: bump-mapping, radiosity lightmaps, ray-traced lightmaps, volumetric fogging, 24-bit color, and 640x480 resolution running at 60 frames per second
- Haunting musical score to completely envelope the players' experience
- Music, sound effects, artwork, technology, story and game play combine in a way never before attempted in a video game
- Winner of the 2003 AIAS award for Outstanding Achievement in Character or Story Development
- AIAS Nominations: Console Game of the Year, Innovation in Console Gaming, Art Direction, Sound Design
- Game Developers Choice Awards Nominations: Excellence in Writing"
Features from SK site and Nintendo press release