There have been many video games released in the first decade of the Y2K that have left a lasting impression on the gamer world. However spectacular, ground-breaking, and riveting such games have been- none have ever done it quite like Silicon Knights’ “Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem”.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was released by the now-disbanded company, Silicon Knights (also known for developing Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes), in 2002 on the Nintendo GameCube. The game is classified as a ‘Psychological Horror Action-Adventure’, which features a lead female protagonist, Alexandra Roivas. However, one main aspect that sets this title apart from others is the way the story is executed- By using an anthology of characters set in different historical time periods and locations around the actual world of the player (I.E. Peter Jacob, 1916 AD, set in France during World War I).
You can ask anyone – this game was so far ahead of its time. Not only did the storytelling aspect of the game set it apart, but so did the Nintendo-patented concept of the “Sanity Meter”. The Sanity Meter is a green meter which appears alongside your Health and Mana meters, which is equally as important as both. When the character being played encounters a creature (or hoards of them) the meter slowly depletes, and the only ways to restore it are by executing a monster or by casting a restorative spell. The most insane (pun intended) aspects of the meter are the effects is has on the character. As it gradually decreases, the effects slowly become more prominent. After the first few losses, both player and character begin hearing whispers, cries, and unsettling noises. If sanity is not restored, the effects will increase. Including, but not limited to, flies crawling across the screen, the T.V. ‘turning off’ or volume lowering, the character’s head exploding, and the infamous “Blue Screen of Death”, which simulates a blue screen with an error message popping up right in the middle of a boss fight. These guys really knew the types of things that would get under the player’s skin! These simulations are known as “Fourth Wall Breaking Effects”, and that is by far the most interesting concept I’ve ever witnessed in a game.
Another interesting aspect of this game, and most definitely my personal favorite, is the fact that it’s so heavily saturated with H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe references and elements. I was blown away when I first turned on the game and a quote from Poe’s “The Raven” was featured before the Title Screen even made an appearance. Not to mention anyone who is a Lovecraftian fanatic would agree that the “Ancients” (Mantorak, Ulyaoth, Xel’lotath, and Chattur’gha) are based on Lovecraft’s “Old Ones” – the inter-dimensional Gods who wish to wreak chaos and death unto our world- and that the “Tome of Eternal Darkness” is based on the “Necronomicon“. Lastly, the sanity meter, which is oh-so-Lovecraftian styled, since his stories are all about the psychological state of his protagonists.
This masterpiece left a lasting impression on many gamers – with its creepy and immersive atmosphere, the interlacing of historical time frames and events with the player’s world, and imaginative sanity effects – which immediately enabled Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem to skyrocket to cult status of the gamer world.
If you have yet to check this title out, I recommend doing so immediately. The series anniversary is today as it launched in North America on June 23, 2002.