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Want to play as the famed composer Frederic Chopin? Play Eternal Sonata

I'm a classically trained pianist who practiced almost everyday for 10 years straight, and then taught on weekends for about 8 years after. Not that I'm saying you need this kind of background to play Eternal Sonata, but an appreciation of Frederic Chopin's fine work certainly doesn't hurt. A Japanese RPG by Tri-Crescendo (who also went on to co-develop the beautiful but sad, Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon), Eternal Sonata is a beautiful work of art, with soft, lush visuals, a wonderful soundtrack, and a blast to play.

Chopin's polonaises and nocturnes were some of my favorite pieces to play on the piano, even if they were extremely difficult since he had large hands, (and I'd be kidding myself if I think I can still sit down and play one of these right now), but some of his original music is featured in the game. Most of the original score is composed by Motoi Sakuraba, who has worked on the Star Ocean and Tales series. I'm completely serious when I say this game is worth playing for the visuals and music alone. It's one of the few games that stand out for me in those categories. I mean, just look at these screenshots! SO PRETTY!

Aside from the great music and pleasing art, Eternal Sonata has a somewhat interesting story that took place in Chopin's mind as he lay on his death bed. Alright, so that may sound a bit morbid and depressing, but the game introduces you to a variety of fascinating characters with absolutely adorable musical terms as names. Polka, Allegretto, Crescendo, Falsetto, Serenade, are just a handful of people who you'll get to know as you make your way through Chopin's dreamlike world. Okay, so the story isn't the game's strong point, but it's still a well-executed RPG even if it does nothing new.

When you actually have to go around and smack some enemies with your musical instruments in between cut scenes, combat is a mix of turn-based and action moments. You can plan out what you want to do before your turn, then you get a small window to position yourself on the battlefield before actually attacking. During combat, the placement of your character whether it's in the light or shadow, will determine what kind of abilities and spells your character can use, and it affects enemies as well. There's maybe some strategy involved, but you'd have to really screw up to not survive.

I have incredibly fond memories playing through this game, as it was relatively easy, accessible, and a pleasure to watch. There are some out of place moments where you get snippets of the real Chopin's life, but they serve as an interesting history lesson if you know nothing about the Romantic era virtuoso.

If you're looking to pick the game up, get the PS3 version if you can, since it has additional content that the original Xbox 360 one didn't have. Regardless of whether you decide to play this game or not, I'd at least seek out a few of Chopin's best pieces and have a listen. The Polish composer was extremely talented and had an impressive list of works. Or you could watch The Pianist with Adrian Brody. I admit that I listened to Chopin the entire time while working on this article.

Want to grow closer to three other friends? Play Tales of The Abyss!

Looking for stuff to play outside of the stuff we already tell you to play on a daily basis? You're in luck! Every Saturday we'll recommend an older game for you to check out, complete with a story on how we found the game and why we recommend you play it. 

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11 comments

  • rxb - September 22, 2013 6:11 a.m.

    I like to play JRPGs over the summer and bought this a few years back. I love the semi cel shaded style. The story is okay, learning about Chopin was interesting. I had fun finding all the ultimate weapons. If you enjoy whimsey this game is perfect for you.
  • ZeeCaptain - September 20, 2013 2:21 a.m.

    This game is agonizingly hard to find for the PS3.
  • TheGreyWizard - September 16, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    Incredibly beautiful game. Its music and visuals are some of the very best in any videogame ever. And just because the story isn't complicated, it doesn't mean it's bad. In fact, it's very good. My personal complaint for this game is the backtracking restriction. Once you reach a key destination you can't go back. IMO Eternal Sonata along with Valkyria Chronicles and Ni No Kuni make the best JRPGs on the PS3.
  • sweetchiliheat - September 15, 2013 6:27 p.m.

    100% this game...mostly because I'm an achievement whore. But that's not to say I didn't like it. A beautiful game, and the combat get better once you go through a second time (there's a random element to it that keeps you on your toes). The story is ok, the ending is confusing (but that's typical of a JRPG), and there's only one eye gouging difficulty spike (that damn pirate woman). Other than that, I enjoyed it quite thoroughly!
  • taokaka - September 14, 2013 5:47 p.m.

    I played through the first half an hour of this a couple of years ago and have been meaning to go back and actually give it a proper play when I had the time. I reached the sewer and thought "By gosh they've done it, they've actually done it. They made a sewer level that actually looks good." I was probably so blown away that I just had to quit the game and think over this fact for the next few years before I could sit down and play it again.
  • Talvari - September 14, 2013 4:49 p.m.

    Maaan, this game had a lot of charm and the story wasn't too bad. But dear god the combat system needed something more to it ;.; There was almost no variation to it : |
  • mafyooz - September 15, 2013 12:05 a.m.

    I don't mind the combat system so much, it's the constant repetition of the same few lines of dialogue every time you go in and come out of a fight that grates on my nerves. Ni no Kuni has the same problem
  • Talvari - September 15, 2013 2:35 a.m.

    Yeah i completely agree. Still haven't finished Ni No Kuni because the combat music and lines of dialogue annoyed me..kinda a lot ;.; I really like JRPG combat systems for the most part but when the music and victory lines and such are so repetitive it just kills it for me T.T
  • GR_SophiaTong - September 15, 2013 7:11 a.m.

    Yeah they're both a bit of a grind, but it's easy you can do it in autopilot. I would read a book while leveling. :p
  • Talvari - September 15, 2013 12:20 p.m.

    Maybe replaying it would give me an excuse to read through some books i got last year..xD And would also give me a chance to listen to the maybe overlooked music from the game! Great soundtrack.
  • StrayGator - September 14, 2013 12:28 p.m.

    I have the ps3 version on the shelf, but... [dramatic pause] ...It is a long time since I was... [dramatic pause] ...in the right mood for artsful jrpg...

Showing 1-11 of 11 comments

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