Greatest Game of 2002: Eternal Darkness

To this point, only two games were unanimous choices for Greatest Game of the Year: Super Mario Bros. in 1985 and Goldeneye in 1997. Eternal Darkness is the third and last game on our list to be granted that honor. The reason for this is due to its excellent gameplay, stunning visuals, and despite it being a Nintendo exclusive, the game is quintessentially anti-Nintendo.

To catch you up to speed on what exactly this game is about, here is a quick rundown – care of Wikipedia. “The game’s setting is centered around a mansion in Rhode Island, the home of the protagonist Alexandra Roivas’ grandfather and the mysterious book known as The Tome of Eternal Darkness that Alexandra finds there. It is presented in a third-person perspective in which the player must navigate a number of locations as 12 characters spanning different time periods. The game utilizes unique “sanity effects” to enhance the gameplay.

Now that you know a little bit about the game, let’s start our analysis with the excellent gameplay and the mechanic that made Eternal Darkness so unique, the insanity effects. Eternal Darkness can be described as a psychological-horror action adventure game. Generally, I describe it as a game that plays a lot like Resident Evil or Silent Hill – only with a cooler story and better game mechanics. Unlike Resident Evil, whose tank controls make the game close to unplayable, Eternal Darkness has a very user-friendly control scheme. Shifting time periods and constantly changing characters keeps the game fresh throughout.

THIS... Can't be HAPPENING!!!

The insanity effects that the different characters experience are what really set Eternal Darkness apart. As you play, you have an insanity meter that continues to drop as you encounter enemies. When this happens, you will first start to hear distant screams or cries, then the walls may start to bleed, you might start to see enemies that aren’t there.  The game even starts to mess with the player by adjusting the volume on the television and other fun surprises I don’t want to spoil. It’s a lot of fun to see what might happen next as your insanity meter starts to drop.

Eternal Darkness was the first game directly published by Nintendo to receive an M rating and the game uses this rating quite liberally. The only way to increase your insanity meter it is by performing a finishing move on an enemy, which generally entails cutting their head off. The game also featured a targeting ability which allowed you to cut off individual limbs of enemies. Bottom line: The game was gruesome. Not exactly a word you can use to describe most of Nintendo’s other projects.

Eternal Darkness is a Nintendo Exclusive

Critically, Eternal Darkness is widely praised; however, it did not sell very well. The game’s developer, Silicon Knights, went on to create a well received remake of Metal Gear Solid on the Gamecube, but their efforts this generation have not gone to plan. Too Human was originally planned as a trilogy.  However, significant delays followed by poor reviews and sales stopped any hope for a sequel. The other game Silicon Knights developed this generation, X-Men Destiny, can be summed up in one word: crap. Due to this, the studio has fallen on hard times financially and had to recently lay off staff. So is all hope for a sequel lost? Well, a spokesperson for the company released the following statement in late 2011, which has given fans of the game some hope. It states, “The company is currently refocusing and returning to its roots, working on one of its most requested titles for the next generation.” Nintendo recently trademarked the title as well. Does this mean that we’ll see an announcement at E3 that Eternal Darkness II will be coming exclusively to the Wii U or am I just going insane?

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