The fact that Brad scored Eternal Darkness with only a 7.0 rating raised a few eyebrows on our message boards here at the site. It seems that the general consensus from the gaming magazines and other sites is that Eternal Darkness is a classic game, worthy of scores hovering very close to the perfect 10. Im sure some readers have been waiting for the second opinion review to come along in the hopes that maybe the score will improve. Unfortunately, its not going to improve much, because I had problems with many of the same game elements that Brad did while playing through the game.
Only my own personal love of the game's story (which does an excellent job of utilizing HP Lovecraft's Elder Gods mythos without actually using any of them by name) garners the game an extra .5 on the overall score. However, before you start sending in the hate mail, keep in mind that a 7.0 and a 7.5 are very respectable scores. I liked the gamea lot, at times, and would recommend it to anyone with a GameCube. Its just not quite the modern masterpiece that some of the other publications have been making it out to be.
With some minor tweaking, Eternal Darkness could have been a great game. The core ideaa horror story wherein the player takes control of a variety of different characters from different eras is an excellent one. The game's scope is nothing short of epic, which makes it a shame that the actual gameplay is so pedestrian.
The combat system is the biggest offender. In a move that seemed innovative at the time, Silicon Knights implemented a targeting system that would allow gamers to attack specific parts of an enemy's body. Some parts are more vulnerable than others, and attacking them can cripple the monster, making him much easier to deal with. The problem is that the targeting quickly becomes tedious; hitting monsters in the head is almost always the way to go, so that they'll stumble around blindly.
Exacerbating that problem, the game has approximately six different varieties of monsters to combat. There are more, if you count all of the palette swapped monsters of different gods, but thats an incredibly small number of foes for a game that lasts roughly 12 hours. So, not only is the hacking and slashing a little tedious (and the targeting system occasionally cumbersome), but the lack of variety in monster types quickly makes the game feel repetitious.
My other problem with the game is one that Brad hit on as well. While the idea of having all of these different characters is great, its too bad they all play almost exactly the same. Rather than implement different skill sets for each of the characters in the game, the developers have decided to take the easy way out and give the player a group of different characters that all play identically.
Do these flaws mean I disliked the game? Hardly. To the contrary, I actually liked Eternal Darkness quite a bit. It's got an excellent story in the pulp horror traditions of the 1920s, enough atmosphere to freak out even the most hardcore horror fan, and some excellent music and sound work. Intermingled with that are the above-mentioned flaws none of which ruin the game, but all of which ultimately bring down the final score a few notches. Play Eternal Darkness, but don't expect it to be a perfect game, because it's not.