Have you ever had the feeling that there are beings that you can’t comprehend out there who are fighting each other for supremacy? Well then, you have just experienced a phenomenon we in the industry call Cthulhu syndrome. Ever since HP Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu in 1928 was published in the February 1928 issue of Weird Tales the Cthulhu Mythos has been used in a ton of movies, novels, and even video games. One of my favorite and most creative uses is the 2002 Nintendo Gamecube game Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.
Alexandra Roivas is called to her uncle’s mansion in Rhode Island after her grandfather is mysteriously murdered. After finding a book called The Tome of Eternal Darkness where she finds that humans and ancient gods have been having a secret war with each other for eons.
That’s where the Cthulhu mythos comes in. The game’s story has humans going against ancients that are super creepy looking and can even destroy humanity if they wanted to (and they do.) The characters themselves are hit or miss. Alex, of course, is there throughout the game and you do learn more about the Roivas family and how Alex is reacting to each new revelation. Then there are the characters that you forget like Ellia and Paul Luther.
One of the original things about this game is that as you progress you take control of twelve different characters from different years and countries, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and weapons. This does bring up the fact that the earlier characters are harder than the later characters because they don’t have access to the spells as the later characters do. Also, your best weapons are melee weapons because this game allows you to target enemy limbs which temporarily stun then and take away much of their arsenal.
That doesn’t mean the game itself is easy. There are still plenty of puzzles that you need to solve and there certain battles where you fight two super tough enemies. Hell, there’s one that’s a gauntlet.
Now, for the thing the game is well known for: sanity effects. The game has a sanity meter that goes down every time you see an enemy and restores when you finish off an enemy or cast a healing spell. The lower your sanity meter is, the more effects you encounter (and some that are scripted.) Of course, if you want the full experience of the game, keep the meter low but remember that you will lose health when your meter is zero.
A game can’t be called a game if there aren’t any graphics. For a Gamecube game, Eternal Darkness looks amazing. The character designs are great for their time, the backgrounds, especially the Roivas mansion, look great. The only problem is you will be revisiting the same four locations: Roivas mansion, a temple in Angkor Wat, a temple in Persia and Oublié Cathedral. You do see how each setting changes as time goes on, however.
As far as the sound goes, a great horror game needs a great soundtrack. The music that plays throughout the game gives great atmosphere and each location has its own music. I’m not sure if Oublié Cathedral has music playing or it’s so forgettable that I forgot it exists.
“What about tank controls,” you may be asking. This game doesn’t have em. Hell, there are shortcuts for the spells which is an added plus. You don’t even need to hold down a button to ready your weapon to attack, but I don’t recommend that at all. It does get old whenever you have to open the menu to change weapons and use items, but it’s not that big a deal.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is an awesome Gamecube horror game that’s sadly now getting the attention it deserves. There were a sequel and prequel planned, but both are now kaput. If you can find it for under $50, give this game a chance and play it during this Halloween season.