Anything Eternal Darkness
Now is the perfect time to revive the cult horror franchise… please… pretty please… for the love of all that is holy!
Regular readers will know that my love for Eternal Darkness is far from a mystery. Time and time again I have professed my love for Silicon Knight’s amazing psychological horror adventure and have even gone so far as to break down all the little facets that made it stand out from the campy titles with poor controls that dominated the horror genre.
Maybe a little refresher is called for: its story covered thousands of years of global history and demanded multiple playthroughs for the full effect, the core gameplay mechanics were fluid with a strategic approach to combat and the game’s signature insanity effects were inventive and light years ahead of the cheap jump scares the rest of the genre relied on. This is a very scientific breakdown of what makes for a great game, a cross section diagram showing how all the little bits and pieces quantitatively make it superior when compared to its peers. However, it really fails to emphasize just how well Eternal Darkness stuck with me and many other fans.
For some people it is probably the horror aspects of the game that made it a stand out experience but to be honest, I’ve never been too heavily impacted by the horror genre in either film or gaming. The Resident Evil franchise failed to impress me until the release of Resident Evil 4 with its radical gameplay changes, the Silent Hill games were great for their deeply entrenched psychological themes and George A. Romero’s best films earned their place in history thanks to his clever approach to injecting social commentary but Eternal Darkness surpassed them all for me. I loved it not for any singular thing it did well but rather for how complete of a package it is as an experience, narrative, entertainment product, and work of art.
The only scary thing here is that half the game is an escort mission.
First and foremost are the gameplay elements. Eternal Darkness approached combat and navigation from a very approachable direction (that made it much more accessible than the like of Resident Evil) but still managed to do a better job of making it strategically rewarding thanks to the ability to dismember foes. The insanity effects are of course nothing short of incredible, ranging from disturbing visions that draw you deeper into the psychological hardships faced by the characters, to jarring, fourth wall shattering events meant to harshly remind you that this is just a game. Finally, the story did an amazing job of weaving world history into a fascinating tapestry of occult conspiracy and power struggles between ancient evils beyond the comprehension of the world’s populace. The simple stories of the playable characters who found themselves woven into this tapestry were also fascinating as they reacted to the frightening occurrences and ultimately achieved some small victory, even if only in death and only uncovered later by another character. Add this all up, and you have an amazing package that stands out among the genre’s best.
But that’s enough praise for today. What I really want to talk about is much simpler -– I want more. Yes, most of us want sequels to our favorite games but Eternal Darkness is simply one of those events that demands more, almost like a promising experiment that begs to be finished. I can’t help but feel that there is so much to explore with its innovative mechanics and fascinating story.
Furthermore, we are at a great time and place in the gaming world that only comes around every few years. Nintendo just released a handheld with the processing power needed to deliver games with the necessary aesthetic a game like Eternal Darkness deserves and the addition of 3D simply expands that potential further. Of course that is but one option, Project Cafe has appeared on the horizon and will finally bring Nintendo and its many acclaimed franchises into the modern world of high definition graphics and incredibly detailed worlds.
Apparently, it was also introduce some kind of significant gaming revolution believed by many to be the addition of a controller-mounted screen featuring touch support and the streaming of information, gameplay mechanics or even entire games from the system. Either 3DS or Nintendo’s next home console could do a great deal to make an Eternal Darkness revival absolutely incredible.
Imagine all the pretty lights… in 3D!
I have no doubt that either system could deliver a visually stunning game, both the 3D effects of 3DS and Project Cafe’s HD visuals could deliver amazingly atmospheric worlds that would put the original game to shame. Of course one thing both systems (allegedly) have in common are the utilisation of dual screens and the potential this has for the insanity effects has me drooling. Imagine walking through a doorway after a harrowing battle with a small army of unspeakable horrors, only to find that both screens have loaded up two drastically different rooms with different layouts, traps, and enemies? One screen is the actual room you will need to progress through to move on in the game, while the other is a mere illusion.
Another advantage for both systems is internet connectivity and looking at the structure of the original Eternal Darkness, it would work really well with episodic content. Whether this means the entire game is made available this way or they simply add more chapters to a full retail product doesn’t really matter, the time and globe spanning story leaves an amazing amount of room for a variety of unique ideas either way.
One could continue on forever about wild hopes and dreams of a sequel that would either live up to or surpass the original but I am quite desperate at this point. Silicon Knights has expressed interest in revisiting the series but they are currently busy with X-Men: Destiny and their much anticipated action RPG, Too Human, fell short of its decade worth of hype, causing some to question the studio’s talent. Of course Nintendo retains control of the property so if anything is going to happen, they have to get the ball rolling. If we’re lucky, Nintendo will make a big announcement at E3 that Retro is taking over the series and bringing it to Project Cafe as the greatest launch title ever!
That would be super but at this rate I’m just about ready to settle for a text adventure for MS DOS. Seriously, the series’ mythology is brilliant enough to thrive on just about any format and it could hold its own as a solid enough offering even without the trademark insanity effects. Give the franchise to Telltale Games and have them do a series of point and click adventure for WiiWare; they’re a talented group of developers well known for their strong writing so I bet they could do amazing things with the license. How about a kart racer? Oh, I know… Carnival Games: Sanity’s Requiem; it could have great cross-market appeal to both casual and core gamers! At this point, just about anything would do.
Except for a card game, that would just be silly…
Or would it?