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 PLATFORM: GAMECUBE
NINTEN-DOES VIOLENCE

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.  -CHET

MATT   9.5
I can’t tell you how much Eternal Darkness exceeded any and all expectations I had about it. For one, it fixes a lot of the problems I had with Resident Evil, with a more manageable control scheme and a deep spell system. Although, that’s not really a fair comparison, as the thrills in Eternal Darkness are more akin to the cerebral spookiness of The Others than the gore of Night of the Living Dead. Through a time-twisting plot and a host of disturbing hallucinations, Eternal Darkness is an experience unlike any game I’ve ever played before. Think Metal Gear Solid’s Psycho Mantis battle, and you’ll begin to understand what Eternal Darkness has in store for you. A lot of people are going to use the word “cinematic” to describe this game. It’s not. Instead of aping Hollywood cliches, ED stands video game conventions on their head, warping your sense of reality in the process. Here it is, folks: the first great GameCube game. Go get it.

9.5
CONCEPT:
A survival horror game with a unique conception of horror and fear
GRAPHICS:
Although the graphics don’t seem quite as clean as Resident Evil, they’re impressive nonetheless
SOUND:
A constant blast of creepy, frightful sounds set to eerie background music – perfect!
PLAYABILITY:
Perhaps the best control in the genre
ENTERTAINMENT:
With a cool story, solid gameplay mechanics, plenty of frightful events, and a Sanity Meter, you’ll want to play it in one sitting
REPLAY:
Moderate
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