ilicon Knights may have spent five years developing Eternal Darkness, but the copious effort has made this title a wonderfully successful psychological thriller meant to screw with gamers’ minds, emotions, and fears to the nth degree.
Players initially assume the role of Alexandra Roivas, who travels to her grandfather’s mansion to learn of the mysterious events that led to his murder. She stumbles upon a book, the Tome of Eternal Darkness, which contains 12 chapters. Each one represents a person’s experience combating the apocalyptic power of Eternal Darkness in a different time period. You’ll play out the events of each defender’s experience as Alexandra reads the book. This manner of storytelling may confuse at first, but I find that the different scenarios blend well together in the context of the overall plot.
Furthermore, with each chapter presenting a varied environment and set of events, you’re always kept in an agitated state of wonder. This royal mind screw can intensify and bewilder even more depending on the state of your character’s Sanity Meter. Each time you encounter an enemy, the meter decreases; the lower it gets, the more often you hallucinate. These convincing hallucinations occur randomly in both frequency and intensity, which helps to maintain a high level of tension, fear, and confusion throughout the fright. I won’t ruin the experience by revealing any hallucinations, but suffice it to say that this creative element suits the genre all too well. Gameplay-wise, ED doesn’t particularly innovate: solve puzzles, kill monsters, and learn magic. However, Silicon Knights has refined the typical gameplay mechanics to near perfection. The controls are smooth and the interface is almost seamless – meaning no cumbersome turning as in Resident Evil. The puzzles make sense and offer a challenge, yet never seem overly abstract or inappropriate. The killing is complemented by a relatively deep combat system that consists of various magic, plenty of weapons, and a body-part targeting system. Since each enemy has elemental and physical weaknesses, there’s technique and strategy to offing enemies.
Fortunately, I only have a few gripes (a slightly confusing magic system, and some strange plot holes), but they don’t drastically detract from the overall experience. The game’s unique story, strange conveyance of fear, and refined play mechanics combine to create a wonderfully horrific experience that none should miss.