Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is one of the greatest horror games ever made, but according to Denis Dyack (former president of Eternal Darkness developer Silicon Knights) the game’s road to becoming a cult classic was delayed due to the 9/11 attacks.
“After 9/11, there was a lot of talk about a ‘new Crusade,’ there was anthrax going through the mail, and anything with Middle Eastern content, people were like, ‘Kill this game,’” said Dyack in an interview with IGN. “So we had to rewrite it and just remove all that stuff. There was nothing negative towards anyone. It was just a historical perspective about a fantasy game. So we would have made the launch of the GameCube. We were on target, but we had to rewrite several stories in the game.”
Dyack goes on to explain that the game originally featured levels based in the Arab world. These levels would have seen you play as a man named Joseph De Molay who served in the Crusades. Dyack and Eternal Darkness writer Ken McCulloch worried that the nature of the story might be misinterpreted given the social climate of the times. While it doesn’t sound like the story itself would have been particularly controversial, they decided to be safe rather than sorry.
Unfortunately, their caution did require them to re-write parts of the game and delay the release. This seems to be at least part of the reason why Eternal Darkness wasn’t a GameCube launch title. It’d be great to play that lost content someday, but considering how hard it is to play Eternal Darkness at all these days, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever get the chance.
You can also add Eternal Darkness to the list of pieces of entertainment affected by 9/11. That list includes quite a few games such as Grand Theft Auto III (which was altered in several ways following the attacks), Metal Gear Solid 2 (which had a scene featuring an attack on NYC cut from the final version), Microsoft Flight Simulator (where the World Trade Center was removed), and Twisted Metal Black (which would have allowed you to shoot down a plane in one level in order to have it crash into a building and unlock a secret area). That last one is a real “yikes.”
If you are craving more Eternal Darkness, Dennis Dyack is working on a kind of thematic successor to the game called Deadhaus Sonata.