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Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is a psychological horror action adventure video game released for the Nintendo GameCube. Developed by Silicon Knights and originally planned for the Nintendo 64, it was first released and published by Nintendo on June 24, 2002 in North America, October 25, 2002 in Japan and November 1, 2002 in Europe. It was the first video game published directly by Nintendo, rather than a third-party developer, to be rated M (Mature) by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Eternal Darkness' primary setting is centered around a mansion in Rhode Island, the home of protagonist Alexandra "Alex" Roivas' grandfather, and a book that Alex finds there. It utilizes a third-person view in which the player must navigate a number of locations as twelve characters spanning different time periods. The game utilizes "sanity effects" to enhance the gameplay.
Though not a commercial success, Eternal Darkness was widely praised, winning the "Outstanding Achievement in Character or Story Development" award at the 6th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards, presented by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, and numerous other awards.
The action in Eternal Darkness is divided between four principal locations. The game skips back and forth through time when the player begins or ends each chapter. The locations include the Forbidden City in Persia, a Cambodian temple in Angkor Thom, the Oublié Cathedral in Amiens, France, and the Roivas family mansion with the Ruined City of Ehn'gha in Rhode Island, United States.
The plot of the game revolves around Alexandra "Alex" Roivas, who is investigating the mysterious murder of her grandfather, Edward. While exploring his Rhode Island mansion, she discovers a secret room containing, among other odd items, a book bound with human skin and bone. When she reads this book, The Tome of Eternal Darkness, she experiences a scene in the life of Pious Augustus, a respected Roman military commander in 26 BC. Pious is led by mysterious voices to an underground temple, where he chooses one of three mysterious artifacts. The artifact transforms him into an undead warlock, the Liche, and makes him slave to one of three Ancients, powerful godlike beings whose "Essences" are incarnated as the artifacts. As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that Pious is attempting to summon his Ancient into this reality, while the powerful fourth "Corpse God" Mantorok is bound on Earth already, apparently helpless to stop it. If this summoning came to pass, the Ancient would feast on the bodies and souls of all living beings, and cast the universe into the horror of eternal darkness.
As she searches for and finds chapters of the Tome scattered throughout the mansion, Alex finds herself reliving the experiences of several (player controlled) individuals who have crossed paths with Pious or other servants of the Ancients over the centuries, and as a result came into contact with the Tome itself. While many of these individuals meet a sinister fate, their cooperation ultimately gathers the Essences of the three remaining Ancients in the mansion. Alex's own ancestors discover the long-deserted City of Ehn'gha beneath the family mansion, and powerful magickal machinery inside. Alex powers up this mechanism with the Ancients' essences, and summons a rival Ancient to fight Pious'.
While the two Ancients fight, Alex engages in combat with Pious with the aid of the spirits of his victims, the souls played in previous chapters, ultimately destroying his Ancient's essence. It loses the fight above as Alex kills Pious. Then, realizing that the Roivases and their allies have just brought another powerful Ancient into the world, Edward's spirit quickly uses the mechanism in Ehn'gha to send the other Ancient back where it came from. He expresses pride in his granddaughter before he disappears.
After completing the game under all three alignments, it is revealed that all three Ancients have been destroyed — "All at once, separate and simultaneous, for the universe is made of many timestreams, many possibilities, all in harmonious synchronicity." Because he was bound, and not powerful enough to stop Pious himself, Mantorok manipulated the Roivas family into completing the work for him. He orchestrates the deaths of all three Ancients, in separate timestreams, and then connects them all, resulting in the annihilation of all three alignments. In the end, only the corpse god Mantorok is still alive, "festering in its tomb... plotting."
The player controls the following characters in the years noted next to their names. The game does not introduce them in chronological order and they are listed in the order the player first takes control of them.
- Alexandra Roivas (2000 AD) - A student at a university in Washington. The game's main protagonist, she is investigating her grandfather's gruesome death in Rhode Island. Finding the Tome, she reads about the past struggles against The Darkness, and of the plan to prevent Pious from summoning the Ancient. The player controls her during the intro, the finale, and in between the other chapters.
- Pious Augustus (26 BC) - A Roman Centurion in his late 20s, at war in Ancient Persia. He becomes the game's chief antagonist after being corrupted by one of the Ancients' essences while examining the ruins he stumbles upon. Alexandra Roivas defeats and kills him in 2000 AD. There is a bad ending in which the character dies and the darkness prevails, in which Pious defeats Roivas. This ending is obtained if the character dies while fighting Pious.
- Ellia (1150 AD) - A Khmer slave girl and court dancer for Suryavarman II. She yearns for adventure after reading passages from the Tome. After finding herself locked in a temple imprisoning the former Khmer fertility god, she is chosen to bear Mantorok's essence. Pious kills her for her resistance to him shortly afterwards, but she remains half-alive because the essence is inside her body. Eight hundred years later, she gives it to Edwin Lindsey and then finally dies.
- Anthony (814 AD) - A Frankish messenger for Charlemagne, ordered to deliver a message to his liege, a message that consumes Anthony in some corrosive magick which alludes to treachery in store for the Frankish emperor. He learns that the monks are plotting against the emperor, but is too late to save him. When Paul Luther finds him centuries later, he rises as a zombie-like creature, under the control of the Darkness. Paul defeats him, prays for the boy's soul, and takes his sword and a gem needed to proceed.
- Karim (565 AD) - A Persian swordsman, sent into the desert to find a treasure (one of the Ancients' essences) for his love, Chandra. Chandra, however, is not faithful. She is mutilated and killed by a nobleman's jealous mistress, and her ghost warns Karim about the artifact's true nature. Although initially reluctant to believe her, he sacrifices himself so that he can watch over the artifact.
- Dr. Maximillian Roivas (1760 AD) - A rich doctor in colonial Rhode Island, ancestor of both Edward and Alex. Something is amiss in the mansion he recently inherited from his father, Aaron. Max eventually finds the city of Ehn'gha under the mansion, and after realizing how powerful the denizens are after barely defeating a Lesser Guardian in single combat, he attempts to warn the world, but fails. It is implied that he was committed to an insane asylum for that, but later revealed that he killed four of his servants, suspecting they were possessed by Bonethieves. Alex, surveying the room where the servants' remains lie sealed, notes that one of the corpses was missing its head, and there are only three sets of bones.
- Dr. Edwin Lindsey (1983 AD) - An archaeologist exploring Cambodian ruins under the auspices of a mysterious benefactor named Paul Augustine. Paul Augustine, revealing himself to be Pious in disguise, tries to kill Lindsey, but he escapes and makes his way through Angkor Thom. Eventually he finds the undead remains of Ellia, who gives him Mantorok's essence; Lindsey returns to the United States and delivers it to Edward. Lindsey is one of the few characters to escape the Eternal Darkness without any physical or mental harm.
- Paul Luther (1485 AD) - A Franciscan monk on a pilgrimage to see a holy relic, the Hand of Jude. He is detained in Amiens by the Inquisition (led by Pious in disguise) on a pretense of suspicion in the murder of Brother Andrew. A custodian frees him, and helps him to find Brother Andrew's journals, which reveals that Andrew was killed to protect a secret: the dominant Ancient's Relic is hidden in the Cathedral. The Hand of Jude was a fake to lure victims to sacrifice. Paul ventures deeper into the Amiens Cathedral, finding a metal statue of the custodian near a door. Paul must "kill" the statue with a magical dagger to open the door, but as he does so he hears a wail from nearby, and finds the custodian has been killed with a similar dagger. Later, Paul finds the Black Guardian, who violently kills him on the orders of Pious.
- Roberto Bianchi (1460 AD) - A traveling Venetian artist and architect, taken as a prisoner of war while roaming abroad. He is forced to work for a warlord (revealed as Pious Augustus in a pre-level cinematic), helping with the construction of the Pillar of Flesh by surveying the foundations. He acquires the artifact from Karim while surveying the monster-infested site, and when his work is complete, he is thrown into the pillar and buried alive.
- Peter Jacob (1916 AD) - A field reporter during World War I, staying at Oublié Cathedral, which has been converted into a field hospital. He notices that people are mysteriously disappearing, and investigates the lower levels when monsters attack. He defeats the Black Guardian, and keeps the artifact for many years until he delivers it to Edward. Besides sleepless nights, he is one of the few characters who does not suffer a tragic end as a result of the Tome.
- Edward Roivas (1952 AD) - A clinical psychologist, Alex's grandfather, led to the Tome by Max's ghost. His servants are attacked by a dreadful presence, the Vampire. Edward eventually defeats it and wipes out the garrisoned forces of Ehn'gha with a massive Dispel Magick spell from the city's nine-point spell circle (formed by the towers of the city). Years later, he is killed by a Lesser Guardian. Edward is the game's primary narrator, introducing each Tome chapter (with the exception of Pious') and narrating the epilogue.
- Michael Edwards (1991 AD) - A Canadian firefighter sent to extinguish oil fires ignited by Iraqi troops in Kuwait after the Gulf War. An explosion at one well leaves him trapped in the Forbidden City as the only survivor. He receives the Essence of an Ancient from Roberto and destroys the City with magickally-enhanced C-4 plastic explosives placed at the bridge. A few years after his return, he meets up with Edward in a city at night. Mike gives Dr. Roivas a package, believing that he himself will soon be killed by the Guardians (though his ultimate fate is not revealed). The package's contents are unknown, as the Essence and the Enchanted Gladius (if the player has acquired it) were later sent to Alex in a hastily wrapped and unmarked package dropped inside the mansion's front door, hinting at Michael's possible survival (also the fact that his statue in the Hall of the Tome of Eternal Darkness is missing, possibly meaning that his life did not end in the hands of the Ancients).
Relation to the Metal Gear series
Most of the voice actors in Eternal Darkness had either previously played roles in the Metal Gear series, or would later play roles in the series (the only exceptions being William Hootkins, the voice actor for Maximillian Roivas, who would die in 2005, as well as Neil Dickson, and Rino Romano, the voice actors of Edward Roivas and Karim and the voice of a guard, respectively). Specifically:
|Voice Actor||Metal Gear role:||Eternal Darkness role:|
|David Hayter||Solid Snake; Naked Snake/Big Boss; Celebrity Moralist (as himself)||Roman Legionnaire guards 1 & 2; Anglar Thom guard (voice only)|
|Cam Clarke||Liquid Snake / Master Miller; Liquid Ocelot||Anthony; Custodian|
|Paul Eiding||Roy Campbell / Colonel||Monk; Brother Paul Luther; Supervisor (voice only)|
|Greg Eagles||Donald Anderson / Decoy Octopus; Gray Fox; Peter Stillman||Chattur'gha; Michael Edwards; Undead guard|
|Jennifer Hale||Naomi Hunter; Emma Emmerich; Little John||Alexandra Roivas; Xel'lotath voice (primary)|
|Kim Mai Guest||Mei Ling; Karen Hojo||Ellia; Xel'lotath voice (secondary)|
|Richard Doyle||The Fury; High Official; Big Boss; 7th-Circle host (live-action); narrator (Peace Walker E3 2009 trailer)||Pious Augustus (standard, liche form, Phillipe Augustine, Paul Augustine, unnamed mongol warlord); Defeated General/Gifted Knight; Ulyaoth (credited as "Richard Doyal")|
|Phil Proctor||Chaigidiel||Roberto Bianchi; Bishop|
|Michael Bell||Russian soldiers; The Fear||Peter Jacob|
|Earl Boen||Sergei Gurlukovich||Inspector LeGrasse|
|Paula Tiso||Female scientist; Laughing Octopus||Chandra|
|Neil Ross||PA Announcer and SEAL member; Yevgeny Borisovitch Volgin||Dr. Edwin Lindsey|
In addition, Eternal Darkness was given five references in the Metal Gear Solid remake for the GameCube, The Twin Snakes, due to its developer, Silicon Knights, having previously worked on Eternal Darkness:
- Ellia, one of the game's playable characters, appears on the cover of the Book weapon. The game's main protagonist, Alex, also makes a cameo appearance as a centerfold model in said book. In addition, the internal pages once set depicts Alex holding a Winchester 1300 Defender shotgun on the magazine's right page, which is a collectible weapon in her game and her strongest weapon barring the Enchanted Gladius.
- A poster of Pious can be found in a locker in the Armory.
- A magazine featuring the game's logo can be found in Hal Emmerich's lab.
- During the battle with Psycho Mantis, he will occasionally tilt the room with his psychic abilities, alluding to one of the sanity effects from the game.
- When scanning the memory card before the above battle, Psycho Mantis will note that the player has Eternal Darkness as their save file if the player has such.