Back in the misty mists of 2003, I stumbled across this title in my local video store. They had a Gamecube section. Well, by section I mean a dedicated quarter-of-a-shelf sandwiched on either side by N64 titles and a few Dreamcast games.
Cast your minds back to the last time you played a game that A), you knew nothing about and B), blew your mind. It doesn't happen very often. But when it does, the feeling is extraordinary. You don't see it at first; it takes a while, and things need to progress a little. But there comes a point, quite unexpectedly, when you realise: "Hey, this game is simply amazing!" This 'experience' is the closest a gamer gets to nirvana, a giddy high brought about by a gaming event that feels totally unique.
We gamers are a voracious bunch and as such spend much of our lives consuming any old junk simply because it's new and there's nothing else on the menu. This is why (if I'm sticking with my food analogy) when something comes along that tastes fresh and unexpected, it’s such a massive event in our lives.
In a way I guess I'm weirdly thankful that there's so much mediocrity out there. With the deluge of ‘beige’ titles choking the gaming industry, when something really special comes along, its impact is immense and stays with you; a ‘touchstone’ to which all similar games will forever be compared to and judged by.
Eternal Darkness is one such example, a dazzling piece of work: compelling, creepy, beautifully realised and, in something of a rarity in video games, a smart and deep narrative brimming with a rich and extensive lore. Clearly heavily influenced by HP Lovecraft, Eternal Darkness is ‘Survival Horror’ as you’ve never seen it before.
Going into specifics of plot and gameplay seems counterproductive to those of you who’ve neither played nor heard of this title. Simply put: the less you know, the richer your potential experience will be. That said, it’s entirely up to you as to whether or not you decide to blow the dust off your Gamecube and give Eternal Darkness a fang.
Now, there is one more thing amazes me about Eternal Darkness: How did lead game designer and creative force Denis Dyack, get it so wrong with Too Human? I’m utterly baffled.
But what’s life without its little mysteries?