Eternal Sonata Demo Hands-On

We play through the recently released Xbox Live Marketplace demo of Tri-Crescendo's upcoming role-playing game.

Currently scheduled for release toward the end of this year, Eternal Sonata is a colorful role-playing game that takes place inside the head of famous composer Frederic Chopin as he lays on his deathbed. Quite how large a part that rather unique premise will play in the game's storyline remains to be seen because for the moment, it's really only apparent through the musical names of the main characters and by the fact that the terminal disease the characters all suffer from is what gives them special powers. Namco Bandai recently released a playable demo of Eternal Sonata on the Xbox Live Marketplace in Japan, and we've played through it a few times to bring you our impressions.

Eternal Sonata will feature a total of 10 playable characters, but for the duration of the demo, we were limited to playing as just three of them. Allagretto is a hip-looking guy who carries a sword, Polka is the same umbrella-wielding heroine that we've seen on previous occasions, and Beat is young boy who's armed with a versatile weapon that can be used for both melee and ranged attacks. Combat is clearly a big part of Eternal Sonata, and the XBL demo does a great job of familiarizing you with some of the game's unconventional gameplay mechanics. The most notable feature of Eternal Sonata's combat is the way that it's both turn-based and real-time combat. Characters have to wait their turn before they're able to perform an action of any kind, but when their turn comes, you'll control their movements, their attacks, and their item use. As far as we can tell, the only exception to this rule is when one of your characters is attacked by an enemy--provided the attack isn't coming from behind--you'll often have an opportunity to defend against most of the damage by hitting the block button at exactly the right moment.

Another interesting feature of Eternal Sonata's combat is the way that light and dark come into play. In addition to their basic attacks, each of your characters (and some of their enemies) has special attacks. These special attacks increase with power that is proportionate to the length of the combo that they're performed at the end of. They also come in both light and dark flavors. The attacks your character has access to at any given time will be determined by the attacks you've equipped ahead of the battle and by whether your character is standing in a sunlit area or a shaded one when you want to use them. It's clear after playing the demo that this feature has the potential to add a lot of depth to battles because you need to consider (and where possible, control) the position of both your party and its enemies at all times. For example, Polka has an "orange glow" short-range healing spell that can be used only when she stands in a light area, but when she is in the dark, she has access to one of two powerful offensive moves. Beat's default light and dark moves are also radically different; the former is a "fire blast" ranged attack, while the latter is a "night shot" move that lets him take photos of enemies that can be viewed and later sold to shops.

Those shadows aren't just for show.

The enemies featured in the demo are a varied bunch that includes hopping root vegetables, huge walking treelike creatures known as "great coconuts," and weapon-carrying flamingo-like birds named "l'opera knights." The demo also features a boss encounter of sorts, against a giant creature that looks like the result of a dangerous liaison between a boar and a rhino. None of the enemies in the demo are particularly intelligent, but we have witnessed some of them healing each other and deliberately moving into the shadows where they occasionally become more powerful.

As you progress through the demo, you'll inevitably level up your characters a few times, which improves their health, attack, defense, magic, and speed attributes. You'll also find several items hidden in chests throughout the world. These items can be used to restore health, revive fallen comrades, poison enemies, and the like. In the finished game, we're told that in addition to your characters leveling up based on how many experience points they accrue, your party will level up depending on where you are in the game. We look forward to bringing you more information on that feature and other aspects of Eternal Sonata as soon as it becomes available.

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Discussion

50 comments
erlachu2
erlachu2

After playing the demo, I was impressed. The RPG felt like a PS1 RPG, but looked new and the battles were fresh. The mix of turn based battles with the action aspect like the Tales of series' battles was really fun and allowed for some good strategy with party location and actions. This looks to be a great game that will feel like the old RPGs we loved but provide new experiences.

Airidis
Airidis

when i first looked at this it looked ok but i wasnt so sure so i tried the demo on XBL and well what can i say......i was impressed i gotta craapy old peice of junk of a TV and still graphics were nice :) and gameplay is really good like how its a combination of 2 differnt rpg styles o and inside dying composers head......wierd lol but kool YAY

Stu-22-
Stu-22-

what uber pwnage, is it an mmo?

creamcloud
creamcloud

looks amazing. I really enjoyed the interview with Localisation specialist Stephanie Fernandez. Especially her descriptions of the details put into the game, which can only be seen on a HD TV. I've recently bought my LCD HD TV 23" Samsung, so I cant wait to enjoy the High Definition too, just like Anuebis stated earlier. I plan on getting this game as my first, after purchasing XBOX 360. So far it gets the thumbs up from me. Thanks for reading.

Anuebis
Anuebis

I too played the demo and loved it. It kind of reminded me of the feel you get when you first play though FFVII. It's your average Japanese RPG, but I enjoyed the cell shade and the HD quality. Can't wait to get a hold of it.

mad_gamer23
mad_gamer23

Is the music actually Chopin's works is it modern transcriptions of it?

Super_Fanboy
Super_Fanboy

I've played the demo and I must say I was impressed. Even though it wasn't OMG graphic it was very colorful and beautiful to look at. One thing that I think they forgot to mention in this preview was the music, of what I heard it was great, but what else could you expect when it all is inside Chopin's head?

kindredmachine
kindredmachine

I played the demo and it's awsome!! The battle system is actually fun again!

caleythia
caleythia

This looks great. I'm looking forward to seeing more RPGs on the 360, particularly Japanese RPGs. It's an original idea, anf I hope it plays out.

masori
masori

CANT WAIT FOR THIS ONE

haveaniceskate
haveaniceskate

AHHHH so many good RPGs coming to 360! I CANT WAIT!

Ranma_X_basic
Ranma_X_basic

Heck i'm already interested in both blue dragon and lost odyssey so this game looks to be on my list of rpgs i'd like to play. the 360 needs More role playing games especially in japan if the 360 ever hopes to succeed there.

kevy619
kevy619

when i see games like this, why again do i want to get a ps3?

G-a-m-b-i-t
G-a-m-b-i-t

Will this be the first good RPG for the 360 :D Maybe :D

snugglebear
snugglebear

Agreed. Looks really promising and I'm interested in seeing where the whole "inside a dying composer's head" thing comes into play. Hasn't really been a stand-out 360 RPG, yet.

feryl06
feryl06

hope this turns out to be a good game--when's it coming out? The 360 badly needs RPGs---and the graphics don't need to be next get, just really good and with good gameplay. It's an RPG anyway.

Chrissyc86
Chrissyc86

Graphics look colourful and bright but its the story and general insaneness of the ideas behind it that intrigue me. 360 definately needs a good game of this type.

-Jad-
-Jad-

It looking look, sharp and good. I hope the game get a PS3 port at was mentioned (the rumor) before.

godamus187
godamus187

man do we need a good RPG for the 360!!

termadoyle
termadoyle

looks promising. but the graphics look a little bland and last-gen. I hope the story is good and the use of Chopin's music is done well.

darkzerogamer
darkzerogamer

Yet again us american gamers get shut out. Why no XBXL demo lovin for us?

Marth3001
Marth3001

any of you can play this, just create a japan account download it, sign in on your normal account and it's all in english

Enginwolf04
Enginwolf04

This sounds like an interesting RPG, although I am waiting for Blue Dragon to appear already.....

ashuncc2
ashuncc2

I am ready for XBOX to get some RPGs!

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I've been interested in Eternal Sonata since it was shown at TGS. I heard the Japanese demo contains English dialogue. I wonder why it's not available on the XBL Marketplace here in North America...

buttons2010
buttons2010

Is this demo out in the uk? Just looked and its not there!

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

I need an RPG bad If I don't get one soon I'm going to have to consider suicide.

wenbin09
wenbin09

i can't wait. come out quick! i'm derive of rpg!

CamisadoBlue
CamisadoBlue

The Demo is pretty fun. I'm probably going to get this game when it comes out.

km1498
km1498

just what the 360 needs a good RPG, or at least I hope its good.

dtshakuras
dtshakuras

Looks pretty good but o god the dubbing is awful.

denaz
denaz

Hmm i hope this is as good as i think it will be:)

DoctorFu
DoctorFu

I have to go download this demo now!

Pfilosophy
Pfilosophy

Man, I really can't wait for this game! It looks and sounds so awesome. And those new clips... oh, I anticipate.

ragincoley86
ragincoley86

Tried the demo out and its great. I cant stop playing the it and it looks like i'm about to go another round on it.

sascha23
sascha23

This game looks very hit or miss. I'm looking forward to more hands-on previews and reviews before considering a purchase. Other titles like Mass Effect and Final Fantasy 13 are an instant RPG purchase, but titles like this...I prefer to take a wait and see approach.

Ryo_Kensen
Ryo_Kensen

Is there going to be a demo for the United States anytime soon? I really wanna play it.

Blace_07
Blace_07

Can't Wait for this game to come stateside!