Megan Highwind here! This time I am going to delve into the reasons why tri-Crescendo’s Eternal Sonata is a game that did not get the attention I feel that it deserved. Eternal Sonata was a Japanese RPG released on the Xbox 360 back in 2007 and the Playstation 3 in 2008. This game is amazing for many reasons, the first of which being its story.
Eternal Sonata is the story of the composer Frederic Chopin, lying in his deathbed in Paris, and the world he creates in his mind while he is not awake to the outside world. He creates an intense story with an alluring set of characters to match. I will freely admit that when I started this title I found myself thinking that it was going to be another overdone story, especially with the cutesy cover art and young looking characters, but I was wrong. When first falling into the world that Chopin creates, it is easy to feel like the story is going nowhere; but after the beginning sequences end and the heart of the story begins, it becomes so much deeper than at first glance. The story brings to the forefront the meaning of life and death, light and darkness and even dreams and reality such as the dream that Chopin created for himself. When the game ended, I found myself wanting more. All of the different characters that player encounters and the circumstances that have brought them together are also part of what make the story great. While they may all seem as though they are just children with no real issues to face, the more time spent with them the more it surfaces that not just Chopin, but Polka, Allegretto, and the others are all dealing with issues that are well beyond their years.
The gameplay in this title is another interesting part of the allure. Like some other RPGs, when a monster runs into the party the player controls three different characters and has to fight. Hitting the monsters is done by slashing with the X button while special attacks are reserved for the triangle. However, unlike other games the light and darkness elements and the party level system keep the game from becoming too linear. As the Party Level of the group goes up, things become increasingly difficult. For example, when the player begins the game there is plenty of time to counter attack an enemy whom is attacking you. However, the further along the game gets the less time the player has to use a counter attack. Similarly, the counter of time above the players’ head shows how much time is left before the enemies can attack. As players level up, the counter gets faster so tactics have to be taken into account to figure out the best way to get the most damage in. The final thing I loved about the gameplay in this game is the Light vs Darkness system. Depending on whether characters are standing in a light area or a dark one, the attacks that they can use change. This adds a level of difficulty to the game as well because it is not always easy to reach a light or dark area without wasting at least one turn. Little side quests like finding Score Pieces also add to the gameplay to keep it from being just about running through dungeons and killing monsters.
The final things that make this game worth checking out are the music and graphics. The music in this game is fantastic. Some of the songs are ones created by Chopin himself and are played at times with a thoughtful little saying or phrase that really add to aspects of the storyline. Other times pieces created by Motoi Sakuraba flood the speakers. No matter which composer’s songs are played during different times in the game, they blend together beautifully to create a picture of a world of beauty and hope as well as sadness and pain. Finally, the way the characters and backgrounds look and feel together are well done. The characters show emotion with every word and look that comes out of them. This makes it easy for the player to feel for them and their situations as the game progresses. The different places that the characters travel to and the worlds that they encounter inside of Chopin’s mind also contribute to the understanding of the state of Chopin’s innermost feelings and it is beautiful to behold how fluidly the characters and the settings blend together.
Overall, Eternal Sonata definitely falls into the great games that you may have missed category. Trust me when I say that if you enjoy games with an alluring story, memorable characters, beautiful graphics and incredible music that this game is worth a try. I decided to try it and even though it took a little while for the storyline to draw me in; once it did it kept me coming back until Chopin drew his last breath.
– Megan Highwind has left the party