Silicon Knights' classic Eternal Darkness, an incredibly creative work of art for the GameCube, actually goes so far as to include a "sanity meter" alongside your life and magic meter. Every time your character sees something that no human mind should ever have to see, the sanity meter weakens. The further down it goes, the less sense the character can make of things. Blood drips and pools where it should not, the camera tilts, the world darkens, rooms seem to change their position when backtracking, the player character mutters in an insane pantomime of comforting himself, and so on. I know from experience that this is an accurate depiction of what happens when the sun sets on reason and the only thing to look forward to is the long, dark night of the landscape of nightmares.
There are few better ways of celebrating Halloween, and honoring the inhuman gods who wait at the end of the world for humanity's twilight, than by playing Eternal Darkness. But you have to play it in such a way that your character's sanity meter bottoms out, completely drops to zero, leaving them with basically no foothold in reality and stumbling through a world of endless horror, all while keeping your real life sanity meter within healthy parameters.
This isn't as strange as it seems. We have all allowed our own personal "sanity meter" to slip precariously low. Like during those times when it seemed we stood outside of our selves, watching as this other-self committed horrible, unspeakable acts. Even in the midst of madness, there was always some rational part that was able to think, "I will go to prison for this! I must stop this now!" but we continued on anyway.
And every time it happens, the police never come, life goes on, and the secret of your true self remains tucked away in the darkest corner of your soul.
PS: If you'd rather buy new games than mess around with old ones, be sure to check out some of this year's horror games, including Dead Space: Extraction, SAW, Ju-On: The Grudge, Resident Evil 5, Cryostasis: The Sleep of Reason, the heavy metal-laced Undead Knights, and more!
Kyle B. Stiff
CCC Freelance Writer