Press R To Review – Eternal Sonata (360)

baccano39xo6-avatarEternal Sonata is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played.

It is also one of the most confusing games I’ve ever played. I don’t know anyone who completely understands the plot. Just when you think you make sense of it, it goes downhill from there.

It’s a shame, because the rest of the game is beautiful. The graphics are drop-dead gorgeous and the music is great. I mean…Motoi Sakuraba did the music.

I’m somewhat surprised at how short Eternal Sonata was. I didn’t expect it to take me 26 hours to finish. That’s awfully short for an RPG. Then again, I don’t have the time right now to play something incredibly long like Persona 3 FES. The Journey and The Answer in FES took me 137 hours to finish. Big time difference, wouldn’t you say?

I’m going to try my best to explain the story of Eternal Sonata. It’s 1849. Frederic Chopin is on his deathbed in Paris. While in a coma, Chopin dreams of a really beautiful world. People with incurable illnesses are able to use magic. In this world, Chopin meets a girl named Polka, who is the same age as his sister Emilia when she died. Polka and Chopin are two people who can use magic. They meet Allegretto, a boy who will fight to save Polka’s life. Allegretto’s longtime buddy, Beat, comes along with the others. This is just the begining of their journey.

Polka isn’t too happy about the mining of mineral powder near her hometown, so she, Chopin, Alegretto, and Beat set off to talk to Count Waltz, who rules the land of Forte. It turns out that Waltz wants to use mineral powder to make an army of mindless soldiers. Our four travelers get thrown into jail when they try to meet with him. They escape from the dungeon and meet up with a rebel group plotting to take action against Waltz. They join forces and the story takes off from there.

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Meanwhile, Chopin is wondering if the world he is dreaming is truly a reality. I don’t want to spoil the entire story, but what I will say is that this question becomes really important later on in the game.

Battles are a mix of turn-based and real-time. They take place in an arena where people are free to move around within their turns. One character can move around the arena at a time until the timer for their turn runs out. This applies to enemies as well. At the beginning of the game, you have unlimited time to plan what you want to do with your character. Once you start moving around, an action timer starts ticking down. Once that timer runs out, the next character gets their turn. As your party level goes up, you will only get limited time to plan stuff before the action timer starts ticking.

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You have four options during your turn. The first are regular attacks. There is a hit counter that will keep track of how many regular attacks you deal during a turn. It goes from 2 to 4 to 8 to 12 to 16 to 24 to 32. This leads me to the second option, special attacks. The higher your hit counter, the more powerful your special attacks. To make things more interesting, your special attacks change depeneding if you’re in light (i.e. sunlight) or darkness (i.e. shadows). Later in the game, you will be able to do more than one special attack in a row given that your hit counter is 24 or 32. Your third option is to use items. Fourth and finally, you can run away from the battle.

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There is no such thing as a missed attack in Eternal Sonata. If an enemy tries to attack you, you have to block it by pressing the block button at the right time. This won’t work if you’re attacked from behind. Every once in a while once you get far in the game, you can counter attacks. This will give you a second or so to retaliate.

As you progress through Eternal Sonata, you will get to hear select pieces of Chopin performed by Stanislav Bunin. It’s great to see a game take someone famous like him and be creative while not taking way too many liberties with the original source. You get to learn about Chopin’s life and hear great music along the way. The rest of the game music is composed by Motoi Sakuraba (Golden Sun, Star Ocean, Tales series, Valkyrie Profile). The music is nothing short of amazing.

Did I mention that Eternal Sonata looks beautiful? You’re in for a treat if you have an HDTV. It’s one of the most colorful RPGs I have played in a very long time.

Eternal Sonata give you the option to choose between the English and Japanese voices. I went with the English voices because I wasn’t worried about the voice actors and actresses messing up the lines. I was right. I had no issues with the voices for any of the characters. Besides, Cam Clarke (Liquid Snake) did the voice of Prince Crecendo. Big plus in my book.

My one big problem with the game is the plot itself. The story is very unique compared to other RPGs, but it can get very vague at times. The game won’t give a clear answer to some of the questions raised by the story when it most needs to happen, especially later on. It goes from bad to worse on the 360 version when you get to the ending sequence. It will make your head hurt by the time you’re done with the game.

The PS3 version has additional content, including two new playable characters, and slight changes to the plot, especially the ending sequence. I finished Eternal Sonata on Tuesday, but didn’t have the time to write about it until now. I didn’t plan on replaying it until I heard about what the PS3 version had to offer.

I’ll revisit Chopin’s dream world in the future.

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~ by WanderingMind on May 26, 2009.

2 Responses to “Press R To Review – Eternal Sonata (360)”

  1. Wonderful review! I pretty much agree with everything you say… including the plot. How confusing D=…

    SO they made some plot tweaks in the PS3 version? Do you think there’s anywhere that I’d be able to read what the changes were? I don’t own a PS3, and probably won’t for a long time, so… yeah.

  2. http://diehardgamefan.com/2008/10/27/review-eternal-sonata-ps3/

    See “6. Balance” to see how Tri-Crescendo screwed up on the PS3 version. Having played through the 360 version, it’s true. I never had to worry about running out of money until I was near the end of the game when I played it on the 360. Even if I took crappy pictures with Beat, I managed to sell them for a good amount of gold. On the PS3 version, not anymore.

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