Over the years, I’ve found that there are some games that I just cannot finish no matter how much I want to. Be it poor timing, lack of ability or just a plain ol’ lack of enthusiasm, I’m just not able to get these games done. One of these is the classic Gamecube horror title: “Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.” I’ve tried to beat it several times over the years, and I’ve always come up short for some combination of the reasons listed. I don’t dislike it, but I think it might just be a bit too spooky for me.
I’m always able to start Eternal Darkness easily enough. It’s just a matter of booting-up the game, watching the opening cinematic and playing through the prologue. The difficulty for me arises once it’s time to start exploring the Roivas mansion in search of more pages for the “Tome of Eternal Darkness.” The atmosphere is just so thick, that I find myself wanting to take breaks if progress is too slow.
You see, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is much more on the Silent Hill end of the horror spectrum than it is on the Dead Space end. Monsters and horrors make their appearance and do so frequently, but the scare is found more in their anticipation than it is in their arrival. I can’t help but feel like something sinister is watching me from the shadows in that house, and it freaks me out. Finally seeing the monsters doesn’t help either, because the game makes it clear that they’re merely a symptom of the situation. The actual cause is any of three cosmic horrors quietly working to bring their nightmarish plans to fruition, and they’re aware that you’re the only one who can through a wrench in their operation. Not much you can do about that.
It also doesn’t help that the game grows increasingly erratic as you progress and your character’s sanity diminishes. Environments warp around you; the world gets plunged into darkness or everything turns red. Ghosts even start appearing as the hallucinations worsen. What’s more, the game will act like it’s haunted, which is probably Eternal Darkness’ greatest claim to fame.
As you’re playing, the game will cut in with phony errors and fake TV malfunction effects. It’ll act like the TV just turned to the wrong input or throw a phony disc read error. It’ll mess with the color effects or even just throw a fake memory card malfunction your way. Some of these are timed to enhance scary moments, while others come out of nowhere. The effect for me is a constant state of tension; I’m just waiting for something strange to happen, and it makes dealing with the rest of the game that much more stressful. It’s a clever idea to be sure and it certainly achieves its intended effect, but I always find myself becoming less and less willing to pick up a play it again once these effects start setting in.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is a horror classic because of the ideas and atmosphere immerses the player in. It’s not actually a difficult game to beat; basic platforming and puzzle-solving is all that are required to finish it. It’s just that it lays the tension on so thick and turns up the mind-messing dial up so high that I just can’t bring myself to finish it. That’s just me though. Plenty of other people can handle the tension just fine, and maybe you’re one of them. Check it out if you’re looking for a spooky game to play this month.
What do you think of Eternal Darkness? Do you have your own horror game that you just can’t finish for one reason or another?
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