Video Game / Sanity: Aiken's Artifact

Sanity: Aiken's Artifact is a PC game developed by Monolith Productions and released by Fox Interactive in 2000. You play the role of Cain, an agent within the Department of National Psionic Control who was recently taken off duty due to psychic stability problems. He is soon reinstated after the installation of an aggression inhibitor, and is placed on an assignment to apprehend another psychic terrorist leader.

Although the plot initially appears to be a straight action comic book tale, the game gets progressively more surreal and slapstick as the story progresses, until it becomes clear that it has its tongue firmly in cheek.

This work contains examples of:

  • Block Puzzle: Quite frequent. They're solved by using the psyonic push power, which propels the block until it hits something.
  • Bottomless Pits
  • Cain and Abel: Cain is the hero, and Abel is the bad guy.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Using an ability causes the name to appear next to the caster. Near the end-game, the meat monster uses one called "Meat Monster Smash".
  • Collectible Card Game: The developers designed the game to support something similar in multiplayer. They intended to release an ability every week, which could be added to the deck of psychic abilities.
  • Deadly Game: In the second chapter, you need to complete "Trivia Insanity", where "One Wrong Answer, and You're Dead!" Of the four contestants, two are held against their will (including the main character), the third was willing contestant planning to win the contest. The fourth was the magician whom the main character meets after the show, and given trivially easy questions. While the questions are claimed to be general knowledge questions, they're really based on context. Since Cain won, the host left a voicemail message asking for him for a second episode.
  • Dangerous Terrain: Used in the beginning of Chapter 2. Both Cain and Abel try using push attacks against each other to knock them into the electric fence. At the beginning of Chapter 6, the child super-psychic, Toby, has to push Abel onto some steam vents.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Psychic abilities, and shooting, require you to stand still. In multi-mook combat, this generally requires you to make an attack during a small lull between attacks.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Sanity Devourer.
  • Elemental Powers: Extremely gifted psionic individuals have created unique styles based on their own personalities and ideologies called Totems. Several of these are basic elements such as Fire, Lightning, Death and Sun.
  • Emergency Weapon: Because the player regenerated a small amount of sanity, a few fireballs can be flung for a minor amount of damage. If hit with psi-suppressant, the pistol can also be used in the campaign.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Enemies are immune to each other attacks (specifically their own element), as long as they are part of the same psychic totem. However, Golgathem send waves at you throughout the game, but you can exploit friendly fire to damage them because they are cross-totem.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In the third level a man in a shop will ask you to retrieve a relic from the local church. Normally this requires solving a puzzle, but if you cast Star Shower in the very bottom corner of the screen, and the ability doesn't deal enough damage to trigger a Game Over from killing a non-combatant, you can actually skip the entire puzzle section without leaving the store.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The reason the DNPC was created, and the reason the Aggression Control Chip was later developed and forced into agents.
  • Government Conspiracy: A mysterious government agent calls Cain, asking him to assassinate the leader of the Eyes of Ra, instead of following his direct orders to apprehend her. You receive more calls from him later.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The security guards are competent (one bodyguard doesn't even submit when threatened). However, some receptionists don't realize that they're in a high-security zone, and that random civilians shouldn't have gotten that far.
  • Immune to Bullets: Early in the game, Abel walks past a few guards without taking damage from attacks. He isn't using a shield to block them.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Chapter 4. The poor lighting makes the lava look like blood, which causes the trope to look like Super Drowning Skills.
  • Morality Chip: To ensure that Cain remains stable, his superiors install an aggression inhibitor. It can't tell the difference between accidental and intentional attacks, and takes Cain out whenever a non-hostile civilian is injured. The chip doesn't activate in Chapter 3, when Cain knocks out a civilian to change clothing
  • No Fourth Wall: If you use the Mind-reading talent on some NPCs, they're aware they're in a game.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Lampshaded in a Chapter 6 Death Course.
  • One-Winged Angel: Golgathem. When he's first defeated in combat, it turns out he's just a projection.
  • Personality Powers: See Elemental Powers above. Aside from basic elements are more advanced ones such as Illusion, Science, Demonology, and Truth.
  • Power Nullifier: The PSI Suppressant. Cain has a firearm to get around this, but is powerful in multiplayer because only psi-attacks are allowed.
  • Puzzle Boss: Some bosses can't be damaged until you perform a certain action.
  • Ring Out Boss: Your first encounter with Abel, where only push-based attacks are used. If you run low on sanity when playing the game on hard, it becomes a Marathon Boss since he advances just as quickly as you regenerate power. The final battle with Abel also requires you to push him into a hazard.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: In Chapter 3, you need to sneak past guards to infiltrate the facility. On initial failures, you'll be returned to the tour group if you get caught. Once you get past a certain point, getting spotted by guards is an instant Game Over.