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GC

North America

Eternal Darkness

by Jonathan Metts - June 30, 2002, 11:15 pm PDT

9.5

Before last week, Jonny had probably played the N64 version of ED more than the GameCube version. Now see what he thinks of the final version...completely spoiler-free.

Let’s get this out of the way immediately: Eternal Darkness is the best single-player game available for GameCube. Its quality cannot be overstated. From graphics to sound to gameplay, the whole game comes together in an excellent package that will have you glued to the controller for days on end. It’s worth the very long wait we all endured.

At first glance, ED naturally reminds people of the Resident Evil series. Yes, it’s scary, but the gameplay is actually more akin to Capcom’s other big adventure series...Onimusha. In other words, Eternal Darkness features a lot of close combat, usually with a sword of some kind, and you’re encouraged to kill most or all of the monsters you meet. Otherwise, ED is really unlike anything I’ve ever played; probably the fairest comparison is to the last Silicon Knights game, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Both are focused on interacting with the enemies and with your environment.

The other major shared trait between Blood Omen and ED is the story. Make no mistake: the Eternal Darkness story is twisted, complex, and extremely satisfying. I really started to get interested in the story about halfway through the game, and it just got better and better from that point on. Now that I’ve beaten the game and started it over again, I can see that the early parts are perfectly woven into everything else...it’s honestly worth playing the game twice just to fully appreciate the story, some of which you won’t understand the first time through.

The control is simply not something you’ll have to think about much. Character movement is natural and smooth, targeting is easy to use, and you have five, count ‘em, five quick spell buttons you can set to anything you like. The camera cooperates with you almost perfectly. In fact, this may be one of the best game cameras I’ve ever used. After a few days with ED, you may never be able to touch Sonic Adventure 2 again. Eternal Darkness’s following view is not only practical, but it also allows for many creative touches that factor into everything from insanity effects to real-time cut-scenes.

At first, ED seems to be only average on the visual spectrum of GameCube software. There are a few brilliant touches, but overall the game isn’t mind-blowingly impressive. This all slowly changes as you get further into the game. Suffice it to say that some of the final areas are drop-dead gorgeous; if this was done with a mere chunk of the Too Human engine, I can’t wait to see that game in action.

The sound quality is far more consistent: it’s awesome throughout the whole game. Even on my TV’s stereo speakers, the music is haunting and beautiful, and the effects range from piss-your-pants screams to realistic reloading and cocking sounds for the game’s myriad firearms. Then there’s the voice acting...I knew it would be superb just like in Blood Omen, but wow. Even the one or two characters who sound just a tad forced, like Karim, are an order of magnitude better than the voice acting in practically any other game. It’s obvious that Silicon Knights went to great lengths and expense to make sure this aspect of the game was truly impressive.

Is this game perfect? Well, no. There are a couple of slightly annoying places (one very near the end of the game) that slow down the game’s pace. Although some of the puzzles do fit in wonderfully with the story, quite a few of them are just as silly and out of place as something you might find in Resident Evil. Why am I placing jugs on the floor to open this secret door? It’s ridiculous and takes away from the game’s overall serious nature.

Still, one or two relatively minor blemishes can’t taint this wickedly excellent game. Eternal Darkness is a must-own game for anyone old enough to purchase it and appreciate the depth of its story and style. It’s a treat even for people like me who usually don’t go for this kind of game. You’ll start playing and just won’t be able to stop for hours at a time. Go let Eternal Darkness take over your life for a few days...you won’t regret it.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 10 9 9 8 9.5
Graphics
9

By the end, Eternal Darkness is arguably the most visually impressive GameCube title yet. I wish the graphics were at that level for the entire game, but at least it gives you something to look forward to. Even the early stuff looks great though, and it just keeps getting better as you go.

Sound
10

I have no complaints at all. The music is subtle and eerie, the effects unusually varied and impressive, and the voice acting...well, there’s simply no comparison.

Control
9

One of the best 3D cameras I’ve ever used. Analog character control is smooth and intuitive. Targeting works pretty well, although switching targets doesn’t feel very natural in the heat of a battle.

Gameplay
9

Combat and adventuring combine with the story seamlessly, for an addictive, compelling experience. It’s just plain fun, and you’ll press on through the occasional frustrating area or silly puzzle because you know what follows will be top-notch. The magic and insanity systems are both perfectly implemented and play a surprisingly big role in the grand scheme of things.

Lastability
8

Eternal Darkness isn’t as long as I’d hoped it would be, but it’s also certainly not a short game. The average gamer is looking at 15 to 20 hours for the first time through. What’s impressive though, is that ED is undoubtedly a game you’ll want to play through again later...maybe even immediately after you beat it the first time. And the game’s three colored paths mean that you’ll have a slightly different experience each time, with a new perspective on the story.

Final
9.5

Even with the high quality of its parts, Eternal Darkness is greater than their sum. The game offers an overall experience so complete that I feel dirty for having to break it down into parts like this. You simply need to play it.

Summary

Pros
  • Deep, involving story
  • Great gameplay, graphics, and sound
  • Some of the best voice acting ever recorded for a videogame
Cons
  • Characters who get tired after five seconds of running
  • Some dumb puzzles
  • The guns aren’t worth using
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Eternal Darkness Box Art

Genre Adventure
Developer Silicon Knights
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Eternal Darkness
Release Jun 23, 2002
PublisherNintendo
RatingMature
jpn: Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
Release Oct 25, 2002
PublisherNintendo

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