Epic. It is word that is used far too often in video games. However every few years a game comes along that truly fits the description and will leave you feeling like you actually took part in something epic. Eternal Sonata is one of these games.
Eternal Sonata takes place takes place in a colorful, whimsical world that is all contained within a fevered dream of Frederic Chopin on October 17, 1849 just hours before his death from a life long battle with tuberculosis. Inside this dreamland children who are destined to die are granted great magical powers which also make them pariahs in society. There is a full ensemble of characters ranging from a little girl named Polka who is destined to die and wants to do something great with her powers, to Allegretto and his younger brother Beat who both take care of orphaned children by stealing bread and other things necessary for survival. Of course Chopin also makes an appearance in the game as he tags along with Polka in her quest. The characters are wonderfully developed and will certainly have an emotional impact on you.
One of the unique things in the game is its real time battles. Gone are the stereotypical slow, turn based battles that many think of when talking about RPGs. Instead you have 5 seconds from the time you first move or attack to do whatever you wish. This leads to frantic running around trying to position your character as well healing party members and dishing out damage to the enemy. Also it features a very unique light and dark battle system. Each character has special abilities that can only be performed if they are standing in the light or in shade. Even more interestingly your own shadow can be cast upon enemies causing there special powers to change, and of course they can do the same to you. Finally the third interesting point about the combat is that, although it takes place in a randomly generated arena you can actually see the enemies ahead and try to evade them, some enemies are aggressive and if you come near them they will run after you, where as some enemies will run away. This very level later in the game when it would take forever to get through a level if you had to fight every enemy.
Another unique concept this game is its musical scoring mini game, in this mini game you have to match musical pieces, however this can become very hard at times if you are unfamiliar with musical notation. However this does add a level depth and can be quite fun to learn.
However every game has its flaws and Eternal Sonata does have a few. Although little level grinding is required, there are few enemy types which can get boring fighting over and over again. My second gripe with the game is that it is a bit too preachy at moments, dealing with heavy real world issues and tries to hit you over the head with them. My third gripe is the lack of side quests and towns, although there are a few, there are not nearly as many as seen in most RPGs. Also the towns you come across will not take long to go thru and do everything. The Final problem I have with the game is a minor one, it has a fixed camera. While this may not seem like a huge problem, it will be once you see the beautiful vistas that Tri-Crescendo has created in this game. It really begs you to explore and look around, however this is next to impossible due to a fixed path to follow and a fixed camera.
Overall Tri-Crescendo has created a masterpiece with this game. The characters are wonderfully developed and really make you feel like you care about them and what is happening around them. While the graphics may not be the best on the system, however the art direction is simply unparalleled. Finally this game will actually give you a music appreciation lesson thru many long cut scenes detailing Chopin’s life.
There is simply no better RPG on the Xbox 360 and this game should not missed whether you are a fan of the genre or not. This is one game you will not want to miss.
Pros: A great JRPG on a console lacking RPGs, the art style is superb, story is actually educational, combat is dynamic and interesting.
Cons: Too few enemy types, feels to preachy, few side quests, towns are too short, fixed camera.