Cam’s Eye View: Eternal Sonata for the Xbox360 and PS3

You know what I have noticed with all of these Xbox 360 reviews and 360 games I want to do reviews on? The Xbox 360 is slowly turning into the Turbo Grafx-16. Before you leave a shallow hate-filled comment, let me explain myself. What do you get when you get a 360? Halo? Gears of War? Well, if you can’t think of any other genre besides a shooter, then no flipping way, Sherlock! The Xbox 360 is the home for more quality shooters from first person, third person, to arcade-style shooters. Is there ANY other genre you can think of putting on the 360? I know a lot of the 360’s profit probably comes from players getting Xboxlive Gold membership, because then they can play online with shooters that are mostly on other consoles, but for some reason people buy them on the 360. There are also a lot of arcade-style shooters like the Raiden series, Deathsmiles, and other arcade shooters on the console. What happened to the amount of high quality Japanese-style RPG’s that were on the console? I mean, there are a lot of quality titles on the system, like Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, and depending on who you ask, Last Remnant. For example, here is another quality RPG you could get on the PS3, but I feel like this is the better version, Eternal Sonata. It’s a very original and unique Japanese-style RPG that is definitely worth more of your time than other RPG’s that have come out, but since I have talked about them already, I won’t list them. I mean, who would have thought a video game based off one of the world’s most famous musicians, Frederic Chopin, would be well good? And on top of that, it isn’t a music game! Well, actually that’s a lie, since music plays a huge role in this game, but it isn’t a Guitar Hero rip-off. So, let’s dive into the Sound of Music and review Eternal Sonata.

The game starts out with the famed composer, Frederic Chopin, voiced by Patrick Seitz, in his bed in a very ill condition. He then makes some kind of fantasy world within his mind, filled with a tyrant named Count Waltz of Forte, voiced by Liam O’Brien who rules over the imaginative world. Chopin then joins up with multiple characters throughout the game to take down Waltz and protect the world. In that sense, you could say the overall style is unoriginal with the whole ‘take down an evil guy and save the world’ story, but to my surprise, Eternal Sonata has one of the deepest, memorable, and original stories I have ever seen. I mean seriously, there are themes of escapism, death, life, political espionage, and rebellion being the themes throughout the game. It’s told very well with some really great voice actors doing some of the best voice acting I have ever seen. I mean, there is even a girl in the game named Polka, voiced by Erin Fitzgerald, who has the ability to use magic, but in that world, people who use magic are outcasts and are doomed to die. There is some deep stuff here if you stay with this game. In the game, you will meet the already said Polka, Allegretto and Beat, two brothers who lived in the sewers, Viola, a headstrong farm girl who is skilled with the bow and arrow, and Salsa and March, two sisters who guard a magical forest that the Count wants to destroy. Later, the group will meet the rebel group, Andantino, consisting of Jazz, the calm-headed leader, Falsetto, Jazz’s lieutenant, and Claves, Jazz’s girlfriend. In the PS3 version, you get Crescendo, a young prince and Serenade, Crescendo’s fiancé.   All of these characters are fully developed and you really feel for some of them, like Chopin and Polka.

The gameplay is a mix of action and turn-based RPG mechanics. You only have 3 party members at once, which require some tactical planning later in the game when you have about 7 team members. You take turns freely moving the character around the battlefield and then start hacking away at the enemies and bosses. You can choose between a quick and combo-making attack or a super strong attack and they all run on a timer. Each time you make the character move, a timer will start and count down to zero, which will make the characters turn over. You have to think logically to choose between using more weak attacks and using two strong attacks, since enemies are tough in this game, but are tougher in the PS3 version. The other main gimmick of this game is the light and dark mechanic. In the battlefield, there are areas covered in shade that will affect your strong attack, but can also affect the enemies, either changing their attack or turning them into different monsters entirely if they stay in the shade. Lucky for us, in the overworld, enemies are visible so you can easily dodge them, but like my disclaimer goes, grind a couple of fights to make sure you don’t get wailed on later in the game because it will happen. I’ve died a couple of times going through this game. Each time your party levels up after a boss fight, a few things change, like the time to idle and the amount of time in battle that you can take. It gets pretty hard near the end of the game when you really have to think on your feet due to you not having a lot of time to plan out your strategy, but you can also get some benefits from these changes. Just expect a challenge later in the game. I’ll explain my thoughts about that later.

Graphically, it’s beautiful. It’s one of the best-looking games I have ever seen artistically. It doesn’t push the limit of the consoles, but I think it looks amazing. The detail of the anime-style look is amazing. It doesn’t take a Tales of Vesperia look, but everything from the characters and monsters are all well-designed. The music is what holds this entire game together with great tracks that are wonderful to listen to and are beautifully composed. The composer in charge of this is Motoi Sakuraba who helped rework some of Chopin’s work while making some original tracks for the game. She is, of course, famous for working on the Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile, and the Tales franchise. There was also some help from Stanislav Bunin who also helped record a few tracks. The voice acting is top notch and is definitely worth talking about. Each character sounds great even when some of the characters are more annoying, but even the annoying characters sounds great. There are some impressive voice actors like Sam Riegel, Patrick Seitz, Mona Marshall, Megan Hollingshead, Amy Rose, Tara Strong, D.C Douglas, Tara Platt, and other great voice actors.

I could easily go on why this game is great, but there are some flaws that I just don’t like and might be the deciding point in which you invest your time in this game.  The whole party level idea is interesting, but it makes combat tedious later in the game and some of the benefits are not worth it for less time in battle. I mean, I really enjoy the combat system, but the Party class totally ruins it for me later in the game. There is also an early dungeon in the game that will drive you nuts with an extremely tiresome puzzle. Clearly, no one went through this part thoroughly because it is a major roadblock in the game and halts the pace due to a somewhat unclear way of solving the puzzle. I am also surprised that they didn’t use other mechanics, like if the monsters are weaker than you, they run away. I just think they could have added more little touches like that instead of making battles tedious later on.

This could have easily been one of the best action/ turn-based RPG’s of any console, but due to some confusing game mechanic decisions, I can’t fully say this game is for everyone. If you want a good challenge and beautiful music in a RPG format, then I would highly recommend this game. It is still a bit pricey, but it isn’t like 60 bucks or anything. The PS3 does have more content, but the game is much harder and with annoying party class mechanics, I can’t fully agree that it is the better version. I say, get the 360 version since it’s about 20 or so dollars. I would really like to see a sequel to this game or some form of spiritual sequel. You will just lose yourself within this magical, musical, and creative world of Eternal Sonata

This game gets a solid 7 out of 10.

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