Friday, February 8, 2013

Eternal Darkness: Reminding Us What Horror Should Be.

By Shawn McFadden

Let’s be frank. The survival horror genre has kind of dropped off in recent years. The only two franchises that have kept the genre alive with any sort of quality are Dead Space and Resident Evil (Even though the last two entries in the series were pretty poorly conceived .  It’s been a long time since a game has really come along and done something truly different in the realm of horror.

As I previously mention, at one point I had a little obsession with collecting old Gamecube games. I am a sucker for nostalgia so how could I resist? One game that I always heard great things about was a little title called Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. This was a game surprisingly published by Nintendo and developed by Silicon Knights, those responsible for Blood Omen and MGS: the Twin Snakes. If you haven’t played this game, you really should.
Okay, so best opening to any horror game ever. First you see a short story segment blah blah blah. Then literally the first second you are allowed to take control of your character, a hoard of zombies are coming at you from all directions in a dark room. You see a shotgun in your hands. Ahhhhh, what do I do??? You have no idea what button does what. You are immediately panicked from the second the game starts. If you survive, your character will wake up and realize it was all a dream. What the hell just happened?
This is a small example of what's to come. Eternal Darkness is one of the creepiest games I’ve ever played in my life. This is partly because the game likes to mess with you. You see, this game has something called a sanity meter. Every time an enemy hits you with their piercing gaze, you will lose some of your sanity. You can refill it by either doing a finishing move on them. This really makes the game unique though. The game will actually have blood running down walls, have stone busts will follow you with their eyes and more. One time my character started shrinking and then reappeared in another room. Uhhh, that’s new. Another time, the game actually showed a “To be continued” screen with an advertisement for a fake sequel to the game. Did I miss something or am I just going crazy?
I’m not going to go into the mechanics that much, because this is not a review. I just have noticed how horror, both in movies and in video games, just does not have the same magic as it used to. Being a big fan of horror, I find this to be a shame. When I first played Eternal Darkness, it did something that I haven’t seen in horror in a long time: it creeped me the f**k out. It can truly make you feel like you don’t know what is real and what is not. This psychological aspect to the game that makes you feel exactly what the character is feeling is something truly rare in gaming. If you haven’t already, check out this forgotten gem.

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