Eternal Sonata is one of the oldest titles I have had kicking around my collection for some time. It first released on the Xbox 360 around the same time as Blue Dragon did. It always looked good to me – I even played the demo. Eventually however, it released on the PlayStation 3 about a year later and brought with it a handful of small enhancements.
I finally got around to playing this RPG title not too long ago, and while it is indeed a bit older (it predates PlayStation Trophy support), the game’s themes and presentation still hold up quite nicely today. The story is definitely an odd one as you play out a deathbed dream that Frederic Chopin is relaying. It is every bit as fantastic in nature as you would expect from a fantasy/dream RPG.
Graphics – 8:
I really, really enjoyed the vibrant, colorful art style employed here. Sort of like how I gravitated toward the bright colors of World of Warcraft or Kingdoms of Amalur, Eternal Sonata looks beautiful the majority of the time. I did occasionally trip over some slowdown here and there where the framerate just seemed to fluctuate wildly, but that was more the exception than the rule.
Sound & Music – 8:
The soundtrack is enchanting, for a lack of a better term. There are some beautiful songs in here, many of which are memorable in a good way. There are a few in particular that just portray a dreamlike quality as you hear them. The sound effects are fairly average, with voice talent that is adequate but far from amazing.
Gameplay – 7:
Getting around the menus is easy enough, and I actually enjoyed the combat quite a bit. It has a mix of qualities, though it is mostly rooted in a turn-based approach. It is surprisingly deep, despite being easy to pick up and learn early on. This is probably the one element that makes it stand out from most other JRPG titles.
Intangibles – 6:
I liked the story and characters. Sure, the premise is a little wacky, but the cast was actually interesting to me. As far as RPG titles go, this one is a bit short – weighing in at a bit under thirty hours. To a degree, I appreciate that the narrative is a focused one, but the RPG elements like character advancement are a bit shallow, and the game itself does not offer up a lot of exploration. If that is an important element in your RPGs, you may be a bit disappointed here then.
Overall – 7.25:
A good JRPG game, but not a great one. Still, it can be found fairly cheaply and it has a good deal of charm to it. The presentation is enjoyable, both visually and audibly. Eternal Sonata could have used a little more depth in its systems and given you a bit more to do over the course of your adventure, but generally speaking it delivers a good RPG experience – especially for a title about five years old now.