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Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem Review - Gamecube

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In the tradition of the writings of Lovecraft, Poe and with a hint of Hitchcock, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is a thinking-gamer's Resident Evil alternative. Touted by most to be fantastically playable and immensely scary, you'll find no arguments from this reviewer. The introduction of the 'Sanity Meter' is utterly fantastic...

...However, all is not well in Silicon Knight's foray into the nether-realms.

Let's start with the basics. You assume the role of Alex Riovas - daughter of an esteemed scientist found dead in mysterious circumstances in the family mansion. You travel out there in an attempt to set things straight, and find the reason to his demise. Action and horrific bloodshed ensues.

Gameplay:

When it comes down to it, ED is a third-person shooter first and foremost. It is. You take control of your character (each existing in a different period of world history - more on this later), and guide them around from point a) to point b), slaying all manner of rotting evil. Thankfully, Silicon Knights dumped the clunky Resident Evil-style control Scheme in favour of a more logical 'point in the direction you wish to walk' style.

Upon encountering a foe, here's how the melee breaks down: By holding down the R button, you target the nearest foe. Each foe is divided into attackable segments, determined by their body composition. Let's take zombies for instance - upon targeting the zombie, you are presented with a choice (in real-time). Either you can attack their head, either arm, or torso. By flicking the joystick in the appropriate direction, each limb can be highlighted. Hitting 'A' will unleash your attack.

Here's where ED's gameplay begins to falter.

Obviously inspired by Squaresoft's RPG 'Vagrant Story', the limb-based system of attack is clunky to say the least. Sure, there's no problem with a solitary creature attacking you - simply run up and 'target-attack-attack-retarget-attack' until it falls. But, when you factor in four vicious, fast, and unrelenting enemies, cracks in the play mechanics show.

You see, when targeting, you can't move. So, you're forced to take jabs at your enemy, then relocate yourself to a safe distance. Ack. Irritating.

Moreover, in order to kill a creature, you must perform a 'finishing' move, with a hit of the 'B' button. Sounds simple enough, but when you're facing off against 7 zombies in a tiny catacomb room, the lengthy cutscene leaves you vulnerable to attacks, and breaks up the flow of the gameplay even more. Double 'ack'.

Unfortunately, the magic system fares little better, and will have you shouting obscenities at the screen on more than one occasion. Without going into too much detail, ED has you collecting rune tablets, and assembling spells. Cool. In order to cast these spells, you must be perfectly still for the duration (up to 7 seconds). Uncool.

Picture this, if you will:
In the heat of a battle with a powerful, intimidating boss-figure, ... (continued next page)
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