Eternal Sonata Review

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Musical adventure where you control Chopin’s dream-self


As RPG plots go, Eternal Sonata has one of the best. Based on the legendary classical composer Chopin, the tale begins with the Polish pianist on his deathbed, his life steadily ebbing away. But as he breathes his last, Chopin’s imagination dreams up a colourful, vivid fantasy world in peril, the game in turn thrusting players into a musical adventure where they control Chopin’s dream-self and join a group of adventurers intent on saving the day.

Unlike Fallout 3, which tailored the RPG experience to more modern tastes, Eternal Sonata feels like a role-playing classic from the 16-bit era, with the considered pace, linear progression and strategic battles that older gamers were weaned on in the days of the Super NES. But while there’s a distinctly retro flavour to the action, Eternal Sonata is brought to life by stunning, imaginative visuals and an epic musical score that makes the adventure feel bang up to date, with a huge range of genuinely likeable characters who’ll help wind you into the story and make you stick around until the end credits roll.

Building on 2007’s Xbox 360 version, the PS3 game expands the experience with new movies, characters and locations, but keeps the engaging combat system that blends turn-based strategy with real-time action, making every monster-mashing encounter a genuine pleasure. And while the game loses an elusive fifth star because it offers up a luscious game world that cannot be fully explored and restricts players to a predetermined path, Eternal Sonata is still a charming and gripping adventure that will appeal to the romantic in everyone, no matter how deeply it’s buried.