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Nightmare Fuel / Eternal Darkness

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"This isn't... really... happening!

The first M-rated game ever published by Nintendo pushed gamers to the edge of sanity and back. A legitly scary game, the sole purpose this game was made was to fuck with you. Your head randomly falling off, misplacement and, of course, the legendary DOS prompt. Genius. The lower your sanity meter goes, the more screwed up the game gets. This truly is a psychological thriller.
ScrewAttack's Top 10 GameCube Games

That quote says it all. Perhaps the game did its job too well, as these entries will attest.

  • The bathroom is one of the more uninteresting rooms with not many intractable items. When you take a small dip in sanity (starting after Anthony's chapter) you'll be given a prompt to examine the bathtub, which you couldn't interact with before. Cue Jumpscare of Alex comitting Bath Suicide.
  • The bust of Brother Paul Luther in the upstairs hall turning its head as you walk by may be the creepiest thing in the whole game. Which gets even weirder as you encounter the same statues in the level where you play as him!
  • Frantic knocking on the other side of a door, which you find that no one is there.
  • Blood running down in streams from an idyllic landscape painting.
  • The idyllic landscape painting that turns into a desolate hellscape.
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  • The painting of the Roivas family tree in the library. Look closely enough at the right side. The only family tree you'll see that has someone hanging from it.
  • Casting a healing spell, and exploding from the waist up. This is a sanity effect, but it happens so abruptly that it may startle you the first time, especially in the middle of combat.
  • Walking along, when splat - a splash of blood on the floor a few feet behind you. Seconds later, splat, another gallon of gore falls from the ceiling, this time a bit closer. Splat. Splat. Splat...
  • Then there are the little hints that Alex's grandfather's ghost may not be exactly what he seems, as he starts talking more maliciously, to the point where he wishes that she had died along with her parents. The last cutscene between her and Edward reveals that it was either Pious taunting her, or her own insanity all along. Neither offer much solace.
  • Some of Max Roivas's autopsy reports. The bonethief entries imply that Maximilian, in a fit of paranoia, murdered his innocent servants, believing them to be possessed. Worse yet, when exploring the Servant's Quarters, you'll find four charred bodies... one of which indeed shows evidence of Bonethief possession.
    • "It's...the only way...I know...I've...done"
    • "DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?! Dear God, I had to do it...I HAD to... You believe me, don't you?... don't you?
    • The final cutscene of his cahpter has Maximilian locked in a cell in a decrepit insane asylum, raving at his captors. "MAY THE RATS EAT YOUR EYES! I AM NOW LOST TO YOUR CAUSE! THE DARKNESS COMES! IT WILL DAMN US ALL!"
  • Bonethieves cross the line into Paranoia Fuel.
    • The vast quantities of Bonethieves present in the World War 1 level, combined with the eerie background music and dead (or dying) bodies piled everywhere inside the haunted church.
    • According to Max's autopsy of a Xel'lotath bonethief, the victim they inhabit remains conscious but powerless: "While our souls are pushed into the corners of our skulls, watching as our hands do tasks that we have no control over!" Of course, Max was quite thoroughly insane, and bonethieves seemed to be the primary reason for it, so he might have mentally exaggerated them. But if he did, it couldn't have been by much.
    • Bonethieves are very much in-universe Nightmare Fuel as well. Watching a Bonethief burst out of its host carves huge chunks out of your sanity meter.
    • They can trigger a Non Standard Game Over if you don't shake them off of you in time. They'll crawl right down your throat, take full control and BAM!. Have a Nice Death.
  • Picking up the Tome of Eternal Darkness with most of the side characters. You walk over a stone bridge carved with a multitude of human faces...which then begin screaming in agony as a giant skeletal hand opens up to offer you a book bound in human skin. Sounds comedically over-the-top, right? It's not.
  • Collecting weapons and ammunition as Alex, long before you actually need them, is unsettling to say the least. The whole point of Chekhov's Gun is to fire it, right? And the longer you carry it around without firing it, the more wrong things seem. In fact, the game would've been even scarier if it had ended with Alex never using any of those weapons.
  • "I can't get the blood out!"
  • Just the idea of Mantorok. A colossal fleshy mass, a sea of maws and eyeballs, nailed to the floor by huge stone columns in a lightless chamber beneath an ancient, forgotten Cambodian temple, wasting away in the darkness over hundreds of years, scheming, plotting, manipulating human history in order to get back at the rival Ancients that imprisoned him. Ladies and Gentlemen, say hello to the closest thing to a Big Good you've got!
    • Not to mention that if you inspect the room, it's apparently covered with a thick layer of effluvial grime that the monstrous flesh god has been belching out for milennia.
    • Consider it this way- Mantorok is a giant, amorphous mass masquerading as a Cambodian fertility diety. His influence has destroyed the region around him, leaving it uninhabitable (And causing who knows what other madness). And the worst part? He's your only hope for saving the world from something WORSE.
    • Any time Xel'lotath speaks. One voice is imperious, arrogant, exuberant...but the other is a hissing near-whisper, paranoid, delusional, constantly questioning her own plans or the loyalty of her minions. It's like Gollum/Sméagol cranked Up to Eleven.
    • The sizes of the zombies- the smaller ones can't be anything but the skeletons of children. Probably the scariest subtle detail in the whole game.
    • Is there any part of the game that isn't nightmare fuel? The scariest part is the Xel'lotath Lesser Guardians. Empty husks that resemble headless conjoined twins. How does it move? How does it survive? How does it cast Magickal Attack with no mouth to say the words? How does it know where you are to attack you when it has no sense organs whatsoever?
    "Oh... oh gibbering insanity wrought in flesh as though an artist had sculpted it! Created from nothing by their mistress Xel'lotath, a canvas as grotesque as any! Their bodies made no sense - no heads, no organs - an empty husk devoid of the trappings of nature... But it walked... it sang... it shrieked!!! A mockery of reason, both natural and mental! A blasphemy from beyond the Veil!!! The veil has opened!! And we should NOT see beyond! We... we weren't meant to... never, ever meant to... Oh, give us the blessing of ignorance, the happiness of oblivion... Innocence can only be tainted, never returned!"
  • The Sanity Meter. Whenever your character would come across a monster or something scary, their sanity meter would shrink a little and could only be raised by performing "finishing moves" on the enemies. The lower your meter went, the more screwed up things your character would hallucinate. When it got near the bottom, the game would start to fuck with not only your character but you. Such things include:
    • Your TV muting itself.
    • Your GameCube appearing to shut itself down.
    • Trying to load or save your game only for the game to tell you it instead is going to erase your saved data.
    • Walking into a room and slowly having your limbs fall off.
    • Casting a healing spell only to have your body explode.
    • Walls bleeding, corpses falling from the sky, seeing enemies that aren't there.
    • The video game equivalent of "standing in front of everyone naked", you would enter a new room and suddenly have no weapons, being unable to do anything but watch your character die.
    • A variation of this would have you move into the new room, where a dozen-odd zombies were waiting inches away to immediately tear you to shreds, with the GameCube dialogue popping up stating that the controller was unplugged.
    • Additionally, there are some fairly rare but incredibly unsettling sanity effects, such as shadow creatures that split from the wall and quickly fade away when the camera view turns, as well as a misfire with Max's flintlock pistol during reloading that results in accidental suicide.
    • Also, the bugs on the inside of the screen.
    • The screen fades out to reveal an image of Pious giving an eerie Kubrick Stare at the player.
    • The gut-wrenching sounds of someone weeping in abject misery somewhere in the distance...
    • By far the creepiest sanity effect is one that everyone experiences: after you finish playing as the third "side" character, the game cuts to Alex in the library reading the Tome of Eternal Darkness, and then cuts to a screen telling you that you've finished the demo. This screen will stay there for a good fifteen seconds, just long enough for you to get pissed off that you got a gimped version of the game, and then BOOM! "This...isn't...happening!"
  • Another creepy part of the game is when you're playing as an aide to Charlemagne early in the game. You get afflicted with a spell at the beginning of the chapter, and as you continue playing, you're slowly turned into an undead abomination. By the end of the chapter, you reach the final room, only to find that you failed in your quest to protect Charlemagne, and then you die.
    • But that's not the end of it! OH no! Another character, Paul the friar, ends up in the same church in a later chapter. You enter the room where the aide died before, and you hear a voice hissing "Charlemagne...". It's the aide that you played before, still "alive" after 671 years of torment as a zombie. There's at least some solace to be had, though: after Paul kills the zombie, he realizes what happened and prays for the poor guy's soul. It's not much solace!
    • Once hit with that spell, the character could not die except when dictated by the story. Emptying the player's health bar only resulted in the character getting back up. His fate was so decided by the Powers That Be that he was unable to even die of his own accord.
    • Extra points: someone at some point jammed a ruby into his eyes. Who? Why? No one will ever know. And depending on your interpretation on whether or not he can still be considered conscious and sentient, he was fully aware of someone doing that act. And since he still groans when hit with the mace, chances are he felt the gem being jammed into his eye socket as well.
    • Even after all of that, when Peter returns to that location in his level, he finds a room full of enemy zombies, including a single, shorter zombie aligned with Mantorok, the god that made the Tome of Eternal Darkness and helps the player through-out the game. At least Antony's body was destroyed, and he seems to have been finally laid to rest.
  • After defeating Pious Augustus and his chosen Ancient, Alex experiences a moment's clairvoyance, where she sees the counter-Ancient she released rape humanity something bad. The visions are seen in flashing, rapid still images, and which Ancient has the least horrible designs for humanity is anyone's guess. To elaborate...
    • In a world where Chattur'gha enters into our reality unchecked, his creatures run wild over the earth, turning it into a blood-soaked wasteland of flayed corpses where humanity is reduced to prey for the Ancient's creatures. Those unfortunate to be caught will be force-marched across the desert to crude execution platforms, where they get hanged and butchered in droves. Thus is what Chattur'gha has planned for be nothing more than cattle, sating the savage appetites of its horrific creatures.
    • Should Ulyaoth come to power, the human race will be taken to what can only be described as an Eternal Engine with Alien Geometries that exists in a fathomless void, bound by energy shackles to floating platforms that deliver them to surging energy furnaces. Thus is the ultimate fate of humanity under be little more than batteries for Ulyaoth's incomprehensible machinations.
    • If Xel'lotath were to emerge into our reality unchecked, humankind would be enslaved and forced to construct eerie cylindrical monoliths, each one adorned with a sinister emerald eye that seems almost alive. To make matters worse, it's implied that the construction of each monolith involves a ritual in which the slaves are forced to brutalize each other, ultimately driving themselves insane before beheading themselves...and then coming back to life, holding their severed heads and continuing to serve! Thus is the ultimate fate of humanity under Xel' be reduced to slaves serving the insane whims of a Mad Goddess until their own sanity is lost forever.
  • Anthony and Ellia both remain imprisoned and conscious in small alcoves within their own rotting bodies. Anthony is forced to live a cursed, half-life existence for 671 years. Ellia's corpse is dessicated and immobile. She remains cognizant in some form for 833 years. And I Must Scream suddenly seems so small...
    • While Anthony at least seems to have lost his humanity, blindly attacking anyone as a mere shadow of his past self, Ellia is still fully aware of who she is, where she is and what has happened. And in contrast to Anthony, she can't even walk anymore, instead sitting on a statue, doomed to wait for someone to find her.
  • A case of Talking To Herself with Alex takes a turn for the worse when you realize who else Jennifer Hale is voicing. Yes, Alex and one of Xel'lotath's voices are done by the same person.
  • The Edgar Allan Poe quote at the start of the game certainly sets the tone for the rest of it, and it's kind of creepy how it precedes everything, including the title screen and logos, to be the very first thing you see and hear when you start up the game.
    • In the PAL version at least, when you select 50 or 60 Hz on that screen, it briefly corrupts and the voice stops, giving the impression that you made the wrong choice. The game works fine afterwards though. Whether it is deliberate or not, it's a very effective first scare.
  • Characters will tend to talk and gibber to themselves with their sanity depleted, in personalized ways. While whispering or whimpering on any of the protagonists is standard enough, some of the distinct ones, such as Anthony sobbing "Dying... I need... help me..." or Paul's screaming unprompted at the top of his lungs, can be unnerving.
  • During the opening movie of the game, one of the first things you see is an animated skeleton staring directly at the screen. Nice opening for "kid-friendly" Nintendo, eh?
  • The vampire, an abomination that stalks Edward through his house while killing off his servants. And unlike most vampires, this one doesn't need to bite to drain its victim's blood; it just sucks it right out of them through the open air. The fact that it can turn invisible does NOT help.
  • The very concept of the Pillar of Flesh. Imagine, if you will, a massive stack of human bodies, hundreds if not thousands, piled on top of each other, and then held together in concrete. Now imagine that the unfortunate, ahem, "materials" were still alive when the cement came down, and their final, agonizing moments of mortal terror perfectly preserved for all time as reliefs on the surface. Of course, you don't actually have imagine any of it because you get to witness poor Roberto suffer this horrible fate up close and personal.
  • Let us discuss the Tome of Eternal Darkness itself:
    • It's made from the flayed skin and shrunken bones of at least 5 different people.
    • The skulls on the Tome's closing flap stare at you. It's a different skull for each section. They blink.
    • The illustrations on each chapter. The tamest is the Journal section; a hooded figure holding a book. The Options menu is a tree made of skeletons and flayed skin. The Inventory has medical diagrams of a humanoid creature with one lung and an eye in its palm, presumably a Xel'atoth zombie, and bony lining of the spaces. Magick shows an Eldritch Abomination being climbed by skeletons. The map has bone decor to show off the Legend.
    • You carry it inside itself.

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