This marks a truly amazing moment, I have actually finished the first play through of Eternal Sonata and it only took me about two months. I first beat the story mode at about the 25 hour mark, watched the 40ish minute end sequence, then I went back and played the bonus dungeon and beat the game a second time to get all the achievements possible for the first play through. Final time: 31:27:55
Why do I keep talking about play through, well that’s really my biggest beef about the game. While being fairly simple and short for a jRPG they decided that if you want to be able to collect every item and Achievement you can only do so by playing the game through a second time. Just pray that you don’t forget to talk to the old lady when you have the chance else you’ll be playing through a third time just for that.
Anyways, Reviewing the game. First Graphics/Design, and boy do I have something to say about them. This game is beautiful to a new level. Everything looks amazing from the outfits to the breathtaking world that your playing in. And not just the rendering of everything but the designs as well are all fitting and fun to look at. There is only one thing in this department that ruined an otherwise perfect experience. ALL THE CHARACTERS LOOK LIKE THEY ARE PLAYING AIRPLANE. What I mean by this is they always have their arms lifted away from their body, ALWAYS. and with how elaborate and poofy some of the outfits are it just looks silly watching them hold their arms out like that.
Story, this is a hard thing to judge. The story itself centers around Frédéric Chopin’s final hours and the dream that he is in during them. The dream world isn’t all that complex, there is an evil king and it’s up to this small band to save the land. But it’s not even really that. In the end the real point of it all is centered around life and death. Which since the story is really more about the characters than about the world I kinda wish they had spent more time on them. This is painfully obvious when during one cinematic they flashback to the first part of it twice because she just didn’t have that much screen time before. One rather nice touch I wasn’t expecting when I first started is as you unlock Chopin’s songs they play the entire song for you with a slide show and a story about the origins of the song and life of Chopin.
Gameplay, being an RPG, combat is of course the important part. You’ll be doing a lot of fighting, but surprisingly they did this right. The system overall is pretty simple and straightforward especially when your first starting out. And as you play through the game your characters grow stronger and gain more moves and to complement this the combat changes as well. It gives you less time to just stand there and think but allows you to pull off more amazing tricks. There is also a whole light vs dark system going on that depending on if your standing in shadows or in light will effect what moves you can use. This mechanic also effects the enemies as well, many growing several times stronger when in the shade. Running up behind enemies, flanking, or even luring them into a group so your attacks hit multiple targets, is also very effective and can make a lot of battle that much easier, though the enemies can do the same so watch out.
But as I said before the game is pretty simple, there is no MP of any kind, and there isn’t any need to worry about stats. Through the entire game there were only two boss fights that required me to really use items in battle otherwise there wasn’t even a need to even go looking for an inn. And with Beat’s camera you can get yourself enough money for the entire game in just the first dungeon. The game is also very linear compared to most RPGs I’ve played. When not in combat you control the party leader as you travel around town or across the land to the next dungeon/town. Sadly you have no control over who is designated as party leader.
Music, another strong point of this game. And it should be expected, an RPG about Chopin had better have some nice music, and it delivered on this. While the Battle music itself did get old by the end of the game, everything else was very nice and it was actually worth listening to. Of course the actual Chopin songs are an even nicer touch. I also have to say that it has the strongest soundtrack for an RPG that I’ve heard in a while. Then again the only other RPG soundtracks that really stick out in my mind are .hack’s and a couple of the FinalFantasy games. Xenosaga’s is blanking out on me right now, but I remember liking that one…. where did I put those CDs? Anyways Music gets an A, Voice acting, you got both Japanese and English to choose from and for the most part the dub was good enough B, the big thing that could have helped this out is more lines for the characters to say before/after battle or when they level up. For example, Viola says, “I think it’s time for a new bow” every time she levels up. And you level up a LOT in this game, gets kinda repetitive.
Overall, it was a good RPG. Nothing serious or intensive, just simple and fun. And there’s a whole second play through that has a couple more boss fights and of course the rest of the achievements. But I won’t be doing that anytime soon. My jRPG list of games I own but still need to play include Xenosaga 2-3, Final Fantasy X and XII, and Digital Devil Saga 1-2. After that I would like to play Tales of Vesperia(which after playing this game and the reviews I’ve heard, I have HUGE expectations for), Tales of Symphonia 2, Lost Odyssey, Kingdom Hearts: ReCOM(IN ENGLISH THIS TIME!!!) and eventually FFXIII. Of course This list will be slowly worked through as I also enjoy playing the MASSIVE list of games that aren’t jRPGS. But I don’t seem to talk about all those other games much on this blog. (L4D 4TW with Fallout3/GoW2 on the side)