Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eternal Sonata Mini-Review

My first true next-gen jrpg experience unfortunately fell a bit flat.

Reviews of Eternal Sonata for the XBox 360 indicated that it had a excellent story that was uniquely bound to true events from the life of composer Frederik Chopin. Neat concept for a story that did have it moments, but I found the execution to be dreadful. The characters were entirely 1-dimensional, and the writing--especially for the evil king and his cronies--was beyond dreadful. Maybe I'm just getting old, but I need a bit more subtlety in my villains. By the time I lost interest, there were some hints of a plot twist involving a Yoshimo-style betrayal. But it just wasn't enough to keep me going.

The other aspect of the game that was touted by the reviews is the new take on a jrpg combat system. Like the louded (and, in my view, overrated) Tales series, Eternal Sonata's combat system incorporates action elements that many reviewers found to be a breath of fresh air. While the Tales series is essentially a cross between a fighting game and a rpg, Eternal Sonata does incorporate a bit more strategy into its system. There is a neat special attack system, and a cool concept in which enemies and abilities change depending on whether they are in the dark vs. the light.

Unfortunately, at least for my taste, combat was still too twitch-based. In fact, it becomes more and more extreme in this regard as you progress through the game due to their "party level system," which, for me, made the combat progressively less and less enjoyable.

So, my take on it is that Eternal Sonata is a game that had a bunch of cool concepts underlying its design, but was executed with a lackluster story and unenjoyable combat. It does look pretty, but that again just wasn't enough. I give it a 3 out of 5 in recognition that others may enjoy the combat more than I did. Selling it on ebay.