Dennis Dyack resurrects Shadow of the Eternals, but there’s some skepticism to be had
Sigh. Alrighty, let’s take a step back and talk about this from the beginning. It’s been a while, after all.
There’s plenty of games in the horror scene that don’t get the attention or love they deserve, at least not when they first come out. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is for sure one of these, Silicon Knights’ creepy, psychologically driven horror game that put a meta twist on the psychological is a cult classic. Remembered most for its panic-inducing “sanity effects” that would have the game actually screw with the player on a fourth-wall level, a la Metal Gear Solid‘s Psycho-Mantis, the game pops up in lots of top ten lists of the scariest moments in horror games. Sadly, Eternal Darkness, along with its spiritual (heh) sister-game Geist, died a painful death in the sales department when they released on the depressingly undervalued Nintendo Gamecube. The possibility of a sequel became less and less viable as developer Silicon Knights credibility dwindled with soul-crushingly bad games like Too Human and X-Men: Destiny, and then finally ending in a snafu of bad rep from starting (and painfully losing) a legal battle with Epic Games over the use of Unreal Engine 3.
Fast forward to 2013, when Precursor Games (which was staffed by many ex-Silicon employees) announced Shadow of the Eternals, a spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness through a crowdfunding campaign. Dennis Dyack, one of the original directors of Eternal Darkness, helmed the project as Chief Creative Officer and it was to be an episodic game for WiiU and Windows. Unfortunately, the troubles continued to mount as the crowdfunding campaign was canceled multiple times, one of the developers was arrested on child pornography charges, and Dennis Dyack came under suspicion of mistreating employees and embezzling funds from previous projects (like X-men: Destiny). The whole thing was a mess, and eventually, the project was put on hold indefinitely.
Well, Dyack is back with yet another new studio, Quantum Entanglement Entertainment, which is not only developing games but also making films and TV shows, and plans for Shadow of the Eternals to return, as both a game and possibly a film as well. For fans of Eternal Darkness, this is a little exciting if taken with the grain of salt that one would have to after so much time. There is a new trailer and gameplay video, but… I’m more than a little skeptical.
While I could talk about how rough the visuals look, or how sleepy the voice acting sounds, I’m more concerned with something a lot more damning in these videos. These aren’t new. The trailer is actually from October 2014, completely unchanged, and the gameplay video is simply gameplay of the events shown in the trailer – what one would assume was footage taken from throughout the course of the game is actually just from this one ten minute segment of gameplay. This has me very, very concerned with the legitimacy of the game’s announced revitalization.
Dyack has also started a podcast and Youtube channel to discuss plans for the future of his studio and the game, and while it will be nice to have more regular updates, I can’t help but comment on some of his, well, comments.
In the latest video, Dyack goes into detail over how he considers Kotaku and games critic Jim Sterling to be “unethical and “bad for the industry”. Kotaku was the first outlet to publish the story concerning the allegations of Dyack mistreating employees, and Sterling was very vocal at the time over the misery that was X-Men: Destiny and the allegations of embezzlement. He speaks on how these allegations stopped the Kickstarter from going through, and that these people should “not be in the industry as far as (he) was concerned”. If anything throws up a red flag for me regarding the future of this project, these comments are it. Whiffs of Randy Pitchford’s crybaby fits over the media’s appraisal of the abysmal Duke Nukem Forever and even worse Aliens: Colonial Marines while simultaneously washing his hands of any and all credibility for both games problems (including some legal ones over the latter) are coming off of all this. While we’ve spoken with Dyack here about his thoughts on horror games and the horror genre in general, I’m left feeling a little fatigued by his outlook, especially seeing as he almost immediately follows up his comments with saying that they’ve made great strides on the project – but can’t show anything yet. The game hasn’t had a new shred of information since late 2014, and considering how much loftier the goals are than they were before, I feel my skepticism is well founded.
Don’t attack game journalists for reporting on evidence that something shady is surrounding your project, and then immediately follow it up with the same brand of shadiness. There’s still every chance that Shadow of the Eternals will actually end up coming out, and that it will be a great game possibly, but this has turned me off a great deal to the project and his company.
What are your thoughts? Should his comments, and the history behind his multiple studios and their failures be red flags for the upcoming game, or are you just excited for the possibility of a new Eternal Darkness-esque experience? I’d love a discussion in the comments below, or just thoughts regarding the news.