As anyone who has played Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain can attest to, few developers do atmosphere like Silicon Knights. A story of a vampire returned to our world for vengeance upon his killers, Blood Omen was one of the most acclaimed titles during the early days of the PSX. The makers of that dark adventure have now moved under Nintendo's wing with Eternal Darkness, and will debut their first Nintendo title with the launch of the upcoming GameCube.

  I'm not sure armor can deal with this one...
You'd be scared too, bub.

    Since the announcement of Silicon Knights as a Nintendo "second-party" developer, the company has been highly touted as the mature compliment to Nintendo's traditionally G-rated roster. Taking a page from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Eternal Darkness chronicles a race of ancient beings who once ruled the Earth and are seeking to reclaim their glory through a group of sects devoted to their return. The dramatic story spans more than 2000 years and features a dozen playable characters.

    The game begins with its heroine, Alex, awakened late one night by a phone call saying her grandfather has died. She heads to his mansion to retrieve his belongings and discovers an ancient book that chronicles mankind's struggles against the malevolent Ancients. The tome serves as the foundation for Eternal Darkness' multiple tales -- as Alex reads each story, players take over that story's main character, including such historically accurate figures as a Roman Centurion that actually speaks Latin.

What he lacks in fashion, he makes up for in tough
Even the character select is creepy

    The game has been rewritten completely in its move from the Nintendo 64 to the GameCube, and the results are clear -- 24-bit color textures and full anti-aliasing running at a smooth 60 frames per second. The details included in the new real-time 3D backgrounds are said go beyond the previous renders. Torches pop and cast flickering light, while moonlight shines through windows and across characters, tables, and floors.

    Real-time cut scenes, spoken dialogue, and fixed camera angles should heighten the atmosphere even further. Exploration and interaction is handled by a context-sensitive B button, whose current function appears in the corner of the screen whenever the character is near something that can be interacted with. This spares the gamer from the traditional running-along-the-walls-mashing-the-B-button strategy of discovering items.

  This guy is pretty eternally dark
Detailed architecture

    Combat offers a wide range of options, from anicent magical spells and swords to Alex's more modern firearms. A strategic element is added to the carnage by the ability to target specific body parts, no matter the weapon. Zombies may not be stopped by shots to a limb, but taking the arm off a sword-wielding enemy will leave him unable to attack. The environments also figure into combat, as swinging your sword carelessly in a tight hallway means hitting the wall instead of the enemy.

    Complementing the usual creepy settings and off-kilter camera angles is a "sanity system" that pits the player against increasingly terrifying onscreen events. Face your fears and your sanity level increases. Run from them, and your sanity meter continues to empty. More than a simple gimmick, the characters' sanity level will influence their behavior and even reality itself, eventually causing death.

Nice shotgun.
Alex looks for holy intervention

    Sanity effects seen thus far range from the subtle, such as a character babbling to himself, to the extreme, which sees Alex pick up her own severed head and listen to it recite Shakespeare's famed "To be, or not to be..." soliloquy. Denis Dyack, President of Silicon Knights, strongly emphasizes the fact that the sanity system encourages a player to confront obstacles as a means of survival, as opposed to merely running away constantly.

    Led by projects such as Eternal Darkness, horror games are finally moving from basic startling into more psychological, engaging, and disturbing territory. Nintendo has now teamed with a developer experienced in darker atmospheres to attract older fans, and Silicon Knights is referring to the game as a "psychological thriller." Both Nintendo and horror fans can expect to be thrilled when the game releases this November 5 alongside the GameCube.

Preview by Ed McGlothlin, GIA.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
Developer Silicon Knights
Publisher Nintendo
Genre Adventure
Medium Disc
Platform Nintendo GameCube
Release Date  12.01
E3: More Eternal Darkness GameCube screen shots
3 screenshots
3 concept renders
11 wallpapers