Monday, January 28

i beat it! - Eternal Sonata

i finished a video game this weekend! as most of you know, that's quite the rare occurrence for me. what did i beat? how did i like it? read on, dear reader!

i beat the RPG Eternal Sonata for the 360. started the game a little before Christmas and have been playing it for about an hour a night since then (well, not over Christmas break). clocked in at a little under 30 hours of game time, which is a little short for your typical RPG, but felt just about right for this game.

the basic plot of the game is that the composer Chopin is on his deathbed and he arrives in this (dream?) world. he meets up with a ragtag group that is going to the capitol city (think Wizard of Oz) and it goes from there. themes dealt with are life and death, alienation, love, and believe it or not, environmentalism.

while i loved the art direction and the story, the battle system became repetitive after only a few hours (more repetitive than other RPGs, and the game didn't do anything really about alleviating the repetition later) and the WAY the story was told and the characters developed (or not developed) really bothered me.

in terms of the way the story was told, there would be a bit where you'd be running around fighting or exploring (usually lasting about an hour), then there'd be 15 minutes of cutscenes - rinse and repeat. they could have cut the cutscenes up a bit and peppered them throughout the fighting/exploration bit.

in terms of character development, there were a lot of missed opportunities between characters, and declarations of love that came out of nowhere (with one that WENT absolutely nowhere). lots of underdeveloped characters. lots of underdeveloped and dropped plotlines.

oh, and even though i liked the overall length of 30 hours, to its determent the game rushed to its conclusion. suddenly i found myself fighting the main enemy of the game, then there was a bit more to finish up, and that was it. very anticlimactic. reminded me a bit of Radiata Stories.

however, when all was said and done, the story was quite whimsical and the game was absolutely gorgeous. the story let you fill in a lot of the blanks (maybe too many), but after reading some of the message boards and getting other people's thoughts, i think i've formed my own opinion now, and i liked the story overall. and as far as the art direction of the game goes, it was refreshing to see such a colorful and vibrant video game in the middle of all the browns and grays of modern gaming.

Eternal Sonata has its faults, but it has something that a lot of video games lack nowadays: charm. beauty. at under 30 hours (rather short for an RPG), it's worth a playthrough.

8 out of 10 (+/- .25)


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