Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Eternal Darkness: Hallucinations that Steal Your Sanity

Remember the good old days of the survival horror genre?  Back when quick time events weren't considered a necessary feature, and Resident Evil games weren't Gears of War with zombies?  Those were the days.  Today I thought we could take a trip down memory lane to a survival horror game on the Gamecube called Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.  But rather than covering the plot of the game, let's take a look at the game's defining feature: sanity effects.


In Eternal Darkness, you are bestowed with a sanity meter, which fills up mainly by executing finishing moves on enemies.  However, this meter has a tendency to drain when you encounter said enemies, and once it reaches a critical level of emptiness you get to experience the game's sanity effects.

Sanity effects are events that occur to screw with your head, such as moments when you'll be exploring a room and spontaneously the sounds of screams or footsteps will be heard.  As your character's sanity further disappears, more extreme events will occur.  On occasion you might enter a room which appears to be filled with monsters all rushing to attack you, only to find that they vanish when you begin to fight back.  Other times you might suddenly find your character walking upside down on the ceiling, or even dying for no reason whatsoever.

The developers even went so far as to include sanity effects that will have you rushing to your Gamecube to check for actual hardware problems.  One of the more devious effects has you entering a room filled with monsters, only to have no control over your character while a message flashes on the screen telling you that your Gamecube's controller is unplugged.


Also brutal is when the screen goes completely dark, as if you had turned off your TV.  There is even a sanity effect that will nearly give you a heart attack: it pretends to delete all your saved games.

No matter what you choose, it still says that all saves have been deleted.
Thankfully all sanity effects are temporary, and upon completion of the event you will restart in the last room you entered, with no damage done to your inventory/saved games/Gamecube.  Truly this is a unique and unnerving feature, and one I much prefer to the button-mashing quick time events that seem to have become a staple in survival horror (if you can even call the new Resident Evil games survival horror these days).  If you've got a Gamecube, and you want to lose some sanity, definitely check this one out!

5 comments:

  1. To this day, I can't think of any other game mechanic that could not only get me to rage incredibly hard but also be one of my favorites ever implemented. Great article!

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    1. Thanks! It definitely was a clever feature to implement, I'm really surprised more games didn't try something similar. The only other game that comes to mind is Batman: Arkham Asylum, when you encounter the Scarecrow and the game appears to crash.

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  2. This was such a fun game - I went ahead and beat it with all three lines. The deleted file one was pretty good - as was the cut out where it acted like the game was done like 1/3 of the way through. There were several that stood out to me, like where you're a monster, or your head gets lopped off. The volume slider one was also more effective than it should have been because it was almost identical to my tv's own volume representation.

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    1. That's classic that the volume slider was similar to the one on your TV, must have been a serious "what the hell?" moment. One of my favorites is when your head gets cut off, and if you pick it up it starts reciting the whole "to be or not to be" speech.

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    2. That was classic as well. Man... they so need to pump out a new one of these. :)

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