I’m going to make these posts a bimonthly feature. They’ll go up every other Sunday, to fit with CIB Sunday on Twitter. CIB stands for complete-in-box, and it’s commonly used to describe video games. If a game includes the cartridge, case, instruction booklet, and everything else it originally came with, it is considered to be CIB.
As the famous composer, Frédéric Chopin, lies on his deathbed, he drifts in and out of this life. Through his dreams, Chopin has a chance encounter with a young, ill girl and the boy who will do anything to save her. It is through these connections that he discovers the lasting light that exists within all of us, as told through an epic tale of good and evil, love and betrayal.
Eternal Sonata is a role-playing (RPG) video game developed by Tri-Crescendo and published by BANDAI NAMCO. It was made exclusively for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with many unique mechanics and systems never before used in RPG video games. The official description of this game also mentions that Eternal Sonata was created to be the RPG game fans and next-gen gamers had been waiting for. So, does it live up to that promise? I would say so.
I got this game as a present from my youngest brother, Toby, when I was about 11 or 12 years old. He surprised me with two new Xbox 360 (our newest console at the time) games, onen of which was Eternal Sonata. I barely knew anything about it beforehand, and as such, went in almost completely blind. However, I do remember being really excited to play Eternal Sonata; back then, I was already quite the fan of role-playing video games. And this particular one did not disappoint.
From what I remember, the combat system was very good, especially for the time. Battles are presented in a turn-based style, typical of many RPGs. But with this system, you have complete freedom over each character’s movement. You have to actually move them over to enemies and then press various buttons to perform attacks. As you can probably imagine, this paves the way for many innovative game mechanics.
One such mechanic is the inclusion of sneak attacks and striking vulnerable points. For example, attacking an enemy from behind results in the attack doing more damage, and sometimes, even stunning enemies. Likewise, the same could happen to your playable characters, and it’s your job to move them out of harm’s way. Another feature is the opportunity to perform chain attacks with multiple characters. I can’t remember exactly how that system worked, but I do know that it resulted in some very cool, powerful combos.
The game maintains yet another battle system, one that revolves around light and dark forces. This is impacted by the environment, time of day, and character/enemy shadows on the battle grid. These features combine to place light and dark patches across the battlefield, which can wildly alter character abilities and stats. Overall, the combat is smooth and easy to grasp, and in my opinion, well-executed.
Another noteworthy aspect of Eternal Sonata is its use of music in its world and characters. Every part of the game, from characters to enemies to weapons, is heavily connected to music. This makes sense since Chopin, a real-life composer, is one of the main characters and the story takes place within his dreams. There are weapons and even characters named after various types of music and instruments. A few of these include the characters Polka, March, and Beat.
In addition, there’s a minigame involving score pieces you find throughout your journey. Once you collect enough of these fragments, you can play a button based minigame to play the completed song. The aforementioned battle system includes some musical elements, and many special attacks have links to music and its intricacies as well. Most noteworthy, the dream universe within Chopin’s mind combines parts of his actual life and his famous music. This makes for quite the original mix, as to this day, I haven’t seen a video game include music in such prevalent ways.
As you can probably guess, this inclusion of music also lends to a fantastic soundtrack. Eternal Sonata has soft, beautiful melodies along with fast-paced, marching beats. Whatever the situation is, this game has gorgeous music to accompany it, and all of it fits each respective scene incredibly well. Accordingly, Eternal Sonata’s soundtrack is both sensible and wonderful to the ears.
As I’m typing this, there are still two aspects of this video game that stick with me the most: the story and characters. Eternal Sonata has a truly beautiful and touching story, one that stresses the importance of hope and searching for bits of light in even the darkest things. It’s a story of people coming together to fight for what they believe in and save innocent lives. It is a story that grips your heart and never lets go, even long after the ending credits have rolled.
Since I played this so long ago, it’s difficult for me to remember certain points. But I did retain most of the main story, and I remember very well that it moved me to tears multiple times. In case any of you want to play this game for yourselves, I’m not going to spoil anything. I’ll just say that Eternal Sonata presents an inspiring, and at times, bittersweet tale. I believe it’s one many people could relate to, as it deals heavily with loss and love; these themes are always present in the real world and in our everyday lives. They challenge us and change who we are as people. And Eternal Sonata does an excellent job of illustrating this fact.
What would a story be without its characters? I believe the developers of Eternal Sonata knew this well, and as such, they created a full cast of interesting, fleshed-out characters that complement the involved story so well. It’s thanks to the characters and writing that the story has schuh impact. These characters lend soul and heart to each scene and every word. In turn, they create a story that you, as the player, want to be part of. You wish to fight alongside these characters and ensure that they accomplish their dreams.
Overall, Eternal Sonata is a rare gem of the RPG library, one that still shines bright today. This is due in part to a smooth, innovative battle system, original use of music in its universe and characters, a gorgeous soundtrack, and a deeply moving story. These factors combine together to create a video game that is truly unique and memorable, both for its time and in today’s world. If you haven’t played Eternal Sonata yet, then what are you waiting for? Lose yourself in its beautiful, enchanting world of music and magic!
If you’d like to get your own copy of Eternal Sonata, you can do so here on Amazon!
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