31 Days of Gaming Terror -Day 2: Eternal Darkness

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Silicon Knights
Systems Released On: Nintendo Game Cube
Release Date: 06/23/2002


Alexander Lucard: Eternal Darkness is probably tied with Super Smash Bros. Brawl as the most popular and/or the best game available for the Nintendo Game Cube. Mantorak knows my purchase of the GCN on launch day was because of those two games, even ED wouldn’t come out for another six months or so after launch.

The game has a lot of firsts. It was the first ever game published by Nintendo to be rated M. It was the first game that would truly screw with not only your characters, but you the player as well. This last one was the big “first” as the sanity meter, a concept brand new to gaming would inflict strange effects on your game. Here now is an exhaustive list of the effects in the game.

“¢ Sounds, such as footsteps, women and children screaming, doors slamming, the rattling of chains and the sound of a blade being sharpened.
“¢ Walls and ceilings bleeding. Attacking them causes more effusion.
“¢ When casting a spell, the player character’s body above the waist violently explodes.
“¢ Appearance of large numbers of monsters that are not really there, and disappear when attacked.
“¢ The player character’s head falling off. When picked up, the head begins to recite Shakespeare (specifically, Act III, Scene I of Hamlet).
“¢ Character or monsters shrinking or growing.
“¢ A version of the blue screen of death informing the player that all saved game data on the memory card has been deleted.
“¢ Statues and busts turning to look at the character.
“¢ Paintings that normally show normal landscapes, instead depict gruesome hellscapes.
“¢ Character whimpering and babbling to him or herself.
“¢ A “to-be-continued” message and promising continuation in a sequel game: Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Redemption.
“¢ Character walking into a room from a previous or future chapter that uses the same location.
“¢ When trying to save, instead of the usual “Do you wish to overwrite saved data” screen, there is a “Do you wish to delete all save files” with the options “Yes” and “Continue without saving.” No matter what you do, all files appear to be deleted.
“¢ The word “VIDEO” appearing in the top-right corner in green text on an otherwise black screen, mimicking the “video” channel setting on most televisions when the game system is turned off, and sometimes the look of the television being turned off.
“¢ Game suddenly stops responding to player’s commands just as the player-character enters a room full of zombies. The screen displays an error message claiming that the controller has been disconnected. Meanwhile, the zombies attack and kill the helpless character.
“¢ Character sinking through the floor as if standing/walking in quicksand.
“¢ A fly appears on the screen, then seconds later more flies start appearing
“¢ The walls will start to run blood
“¢ The ceiling will drip blood onto the ground
“¢ The paintings on the walls will change as you look at them, even zoomed
“¢ Insects crawl along the screen
“¢ Body parts of your character are severed, while you walk around
“¢ You continually keep getting attacked by something invisible, die, then
“¢ the effect ends
“¢ Your character spontaneously becomes very small
“¢ Your character spontaneously becomes very large
“¢ Objects, such as books, fly around the room
“¢ Fire poker sticks just float there, poking the fire
“¢ When you enter a room, it’s all upside-down
“¢ When you enter a room, you are a Zombie, and can move/attack as it
“¢ A pistol hovers through the halls, as if carried by Maximillian Roivas
“¢ Ladders aren’t completely whole
“¢ Several short cinematics, showing Edward Roivas’ ghost talking to Alex.
“¢ You, or other enemies become invisible
“¢ Enemies appear that aren’t actually there
“¢ The game/TV’s sound turns down, then back up
“¢ The sound mutes
“¢ People screaming in the background
“¢ Women crying in the background
“¢ Warped voices just muttering in the background
“¢ Loud knocks on doors
“¢ Muttered chants, or incantations, in other languages, mainly Latin
“¢ An insane laugh echoes in the background
“¢ Phones ring
“¢ Babies crying in the background
“¢ Footsteps from off in the distance, sometimes grow closer
“¢ Various moans and sounds of pain
“¢ Your game screen moves/slants a bit
“¢ Certain buttons do not work
“¢ A screen comes up, acting like the game is only a demo, telling you to buy the full game to finish the story
“¢ Casting a spell causes your head to blow up, and you to die
“¢ You turn into a Zombie, but lose control of yourself, and just end up dying
“¢ A huge amount of creatures appear in a room
“¢ You accidentally shoot yourself when reloading a firearm
“¢ Your movements slow down greatly
“¢ The entire floor is covered in weapon ammunition
“¢ Your character just shoots at the screen, making a bullet hole
“¢ You appear to lose all items you were carrying
“¢ When she investigates the tub in the mansion’s bathroom, Alex sees a dead girl in a bathtub full of blood, and it zooms in quickly with a loud scream coming from the background.
“¢ As Paul Luther, you see objects from the future chapter when you play as Peter, such as WW1 tents, medical equipment, and so forth, and it is all in a different color hue.
“¢ As Alex, on the upper mansion floor, head left, and to the hall with the stained-glass window at the end. As you head down this way, Maximillian Roivas will appear as a ghost, and will walk into the wall.
“¢ As Max, when you climb down a ladder in the basement, you’ll appear in the asylum cell that occurs later in the story, then flash back.

That my friends, is a twisted game. Kudos to Silicon Knights for giving us this game. Let’s all pretend they DIDN’T make Too Human though.

To read more about Eternal Darkness, read my write up from Nyogtha a few years back and see why I rated it the third scariest video game of all time.

Mark B: I never really had any specifically horrifying memories of how the game messed with me, largely because I was anal-retentive about keeping my Sanity as high as possible at all times. The most I saw from the game was the protagonist dead in the bathtub from a suicide, which, while creepy, didn’t really hit home. The thing I remember most about the game is the true ending; after everything was all said and done, your actions were pretty much done in the service of the game’s Shuma Gorath/Cthulhu-like demigod Mantorok, and everything you accomplished was done because you HAD TO, not because you WANTED TO. If that’s not incredibly depressing (and yet strangely appropriate), I don’t know what is.

ML Kennedy: Eternal Darkness provides hordes of freaky experiences: walls drip blood, creatures burrow into your character’s skeleton, you start hearing voices, and so on.

Still the freakiest experience of the game has got to be one of those infamous tricks that Eternal Darkness plays on the player himself. From pretending to explode your character to pretending to erase your memory card, this sadistic game knows where to hit a guy where it hurts. The one that stands out most here at Casa Kennedy is the “No controller plugged in” error message that sent me running to our Gamecube more than once.

Guy Desmaris: My character exploding when I wasn’t expecting it was enough to make me nearly poop my pants. I’m the kind of guy who jumps pretty easily, so that startled me pretty bad. I was simply looking at the TV for a moment, thinking “What happened??? What did I do wrong?”. From that moment on, I played the game with all the lights on and the volume a little bit lower just to prevent myself from jumping at any loud sound. I’m a wuss like that.




Misha: Wall-twisting always got me in-game. On a metagame level, the memory-card-failure haunted me most.

By far the cruelist trick in the game’s arsenal, though, was the post-episode ‘trailer’ for the sequel. The sequel that the programmers knew damn well would never be made. Those utter, utter bastards.

Matt Yaeger: The game got me twice. To give a little backstory, one game that pissed me off was Legacy of Kain on the Playstation because when you defeat the final boss the game says ‘To be continued’. Er, WTF? I pay $50 for a game and it doesn’t even have an ending, bullshit cliffhanger or otherwise? Another game was a RE game for the Cube that I thought was sort of surprising that it came out on two disks. When it came time to switch the disks I realized I’d lost the second disk somewhere.

So when Eternal Darkness gave me a To Be Continued… screen I jumped up and started shouting. When the game later asked me to insert disk two I opened the case to find disk 2 and when I couldn’t find it I started looking for the number of the store that sold me the game pissed off that my copy was missing the second disk. Of course, there was no second disk. The game got me.

Chris Bowen: This has less to do with the game than it does a personal anectdote that loosely has Eternal Darkness involved.

My girlfriend was playing, and she likes horror games. Not in a “they’re cool” sense, but in a “they scare me shitless, but I have Stockholm Syndrome” sense, where she can’t play them alone if they’re bad enough. I don’t personally have this love/hate relationship with horror games – I personally don’t care for them, and this is likely going to be one of the only times my contribution will be made to this piece – so naturally, I’m not as “sensitive” as I could be.

She was playing one day, and very tense, because there was one sense where she – and her character – were starting to lose it a bit. She could have jumped 100 feet if I shocked her.

… So I did.

I jumped at the screen, screaming “LOOK OUT HE’S RIGHT OVER THERE!!!!!!!”. She SCREAMED, threw the controller so hard it hit the ceiling, and finally, just lied there on the bed, knees in the air, grimacing, and gritting her teeth.

The bruises were well worth it.

Aaron Sirois: I never played it myself, but I did watch a friend play through quite a bit of it one day. Now, he was playing on a TV that we had lost the remote for months ago. I honestly hadn’t heard of the game, so when the volume indicator came up and started ticking down, I went “Holy shit! Where did you find the remote?”

He looked at me as if I were the biggest idiot that had ever walked the earth.

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