I don’t think it’s possible to talk about horror games without bringing up Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (seriously, I think there’s an official mandate). This Gamecube title won numerous accolades, is frequently included on lists of the best horror games ever & fans have been begging for a sequel ever since. In fact, I think the only game I’ve heard people crying out more for a sequel for is EarthBound. Gamers have been teased time & again with a possible sequel, but thanks to the developer Silicon Knight’s recent legal trouble an offical sequel seemed unlikely.
But fans’ prayers may finally be answered. Precursor Games has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for Shadow of The Eternals, which they are billing as a spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness & “from the creators of Eternal Darkness.”
Firstly, you may be asking who this Precursor Games is. The company was founded in July of 2012 by Paul Caporicci as a sort of micro-studio. The idea was to be more flexible than a larger studio could be. Caporicci also used to work for Silicon Knights & worked on Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes & Too Human. Joining him are several other Silicon Knight employees, several of whom worked on the original Eternal Darkness, including former Silicon Knights founder & director Denis Dyack, who is now the studio’s Chief Creative Director. So it sounds like the game is in the hands of people who not only know how to make games but how to capture the feel of the original product.
So what is Shadow of the Eternals about? Well, being a spiritual successor means that the game isn’t a direct sequel to Eternal Darkness but follows in the same vein. A recent example would be how Bioshock was a spiritual successor to System Shock. SotE is being developed as an episodic game. The idea is to release smaller chunks of the game at a faster pace than they could developing the entire game all at once. Sort of like what Valve was supposed to be doing with the Half-Life 2 episodes but hopefully with more… success. Right now Precursor Games has the first season planned at twelve episodes. According to the official website, the game begins with a Louisiana detective named Paul Becker investigating a massacre at a hospital that appears to be cult-related. Only two men survived, & the only memories they have are scattered & seemingly unrelated historical snippets. Only a handful of characters have been revealed thus far. Aside from Detective Paul Becker, you have the two survivors. With no memories, they’re referred to as John Smith (apparently a businessman of some sort) & John Doe (a biker). Also supposedly featuring prominently in the game is the infamous Elizabeth Bathory, a real historical figure who slaughtered young girls to bathe in their blood believing it would make her young forever, & a young woman named Clara, who is Elizabeth’s handmaiden & apparently lover. There’s also a courier for Charlemagne named Theodoric.
Based on the demo footage shown during the IGN interview, we can say a few things about the game thus far. For one, it feels very much like Eternal Darkness. The demo shows Clara reading from a strange book (The Tome of Eternal Darkness?) that goes into telling a playable character’s story. In this instance it was Theodoric. This seems to imply that, like Eternal Darkness, the game will mix the past & the present in a way where the player is always in control of the story. SotE also seems to place an emphasis on hidden forces & how interacting with these forces drives human mad. No Sanity Events (as they’re called this time) were shown so we can only guess what Precursor Games have up their sleeves. According to the interview with Dyack, the game tries to balance action, puzzles & exploration. They’re also striving to be as historically accurate as you can be when talking about supernatural forces. Another exciting aspect is that Precursor Games would like to add community created content to future episodes. So fans could be asked to submit story or character ideas. The demo footage also looks great, & not just from a pixel perspective. Although the graphics are very impressive (it’s on the CryEngine) it’s the architecture that really impresses me. Everything looks so dark & gothic, which you’d expect in a horror game. The music also fits the Eternal Darkness vibe. Very dark & unsettling.
Precursor Games is asking for $1.5 million for the pilot episode. Now, before you start freaking out thinking each episode will cost that much, according to the company it will only be the initial episode that’ll cost this much. To quote directly from the site:
Shadow of the Eternals will be an episodic series, and our initial goal is 1.5 million dollars. This includes production on the Pilot Episode, game engine costs and core system development. Future episodes of Shadow of the Eternals will be significantly less to produce, and we look forward to announcing more episodes based on the success of our campaign. Additional money raised beyond this will also contribute to things such as in-game perks, additional gaming platforms, and other surprises. The more money that we raise, the more we will deliver based on what our fans want. We are committed to making this game. However, if it becomes apparent that we cannot raise enough to develop this project then we will refund all pledges.
This makes sense to me. Each subsequent episode will be using the same system so once it’s built it won’t cost any more money. So basically, the more money they raise the better the experience will be for everyone.
Of course, by donating you’ll be some nice perks. Right now they have limited edition pledges available, so you can get even more. Perks range from getting the episodes, the soundtrack, special in-game goodies, posters & other signed development pieces, yourself in the game & even getting to create your own Sanity Event. Plus, all pledges give you access to Official Development Forum & the “Order of the Unseen” where you can share ideas for future content in the game.
The crowdfunding deadline is July 7, so go to their site http://www.precursorgames.com/shadowoftheeternals/ to pledge as well as check out screenshots, news & other info on the upcoming game. If they get the funding, Precursor Games wants to have the pilot episode out by Q3 of 2014. Right now it’s set to come out on the PC & WiiU, but Precursor Games said they’re open to releasing it on other consoles if there’s an interest & they get the money for it.