Eternal Sonata Update

We see dead people in Namco's upcoming Xbox 360 role-playing game...and they have special powers?

We got our first look at Eternal Sonata during last year's Tokyo Game Show where the game was on display at the Namco and Microsoft booths. The third-person role-playing game features a slick cel-shaded look that shines in HD. The gameplay leans toward the action RPG spectrum; it has you running around exploring and fighting enemies as you encounter them. Back then, our time with the game didn't give us much insight into its story. However, a recent visit from Namco, with a work-in-progress, localized version of the game in tow, shed some light on its story.

The game's story is a dream that renowned composer Chopin is having in his sickbed during the last three hours of his life. Our demo opened in the real world to show his sister and doctor chatting around the ailing musician. The action then segued into his dream and put us in control of Polka, the young, umbrella-wielding heroine we played as in the TGS version. Polka, like just about all the characters in the game, has a moniker taken from musical terminology. The same holds true for many locations and items you'll encounter. During her adventuring through the level, we also got some insight into her background, which offered a rather unique twist to the standard RPG formula: terminal illness! It seems Polka, like several of the game's 10 playable characters, is dying of a terrible malady.

Bleak as that sounds, it's kind of a "bad news, good news" situation. The bad news is obviously that she's going to drop like a bad habit at some point in the future. The good news is that "terminal illness" also means, in the gameworld anyway, magical powers. The downside to this is that most people shun the terminally ill with special powers. But hey, magical powers, right? The core of the story follows a motley crew of individuals as they square off against an evil count who's making people insane with a mineral powder. Among that group of freedom fighters is a young man named Frederic, who is the embodiment of Chopin in the adventure. Though you'll start the game with Polka, you'll eventually come across the others as you progress and add them to your pool of selectable characters. When in combat, your party will be limited to three characters.

Eternal Sonata will bolster the 360's RPG lineup later this year.

Speaking of combat, the game's combat system features a mix of real-time and turn-based elements. You'll move and attack in pseudo real time as your actions run down a meter that reflects how much action time you have during your phase of a fight. When the meter is up, you'll have to wait until it's your turn again. One of the interesting twists to combat is the light and dark system, which affects the magic attacks that certain characters can perform. When you're in direct light, you'll be able to cast certain types of spells, but when you're in shadow, those spells change. Each set of spells has different properties that you'll have to manage during battle to ensure you're being effective in your attacks against foes. Once you get the hang of it, you can chain together combos among your characters to max out the damage you deal in a fight. The system seems cool and has just enough depth to be interesting without being overwhelming.

The visuals in the game continue to impress us thanks to a clean art style, high resolution, and vivid color palette. The world features a straightforward design with set paths through lush environments and richly detailed cities. Shading is especially nice, which is significant given the light and dark mechanic in combat. The version we saw was a little rough in places but ran smoothly overall.

As far as the audio in the game goes, the version we saw already had English voices and sounded fine. The voice acting was solid and fit the game's look. Though there wasn't much music specific to Chopin in what we heard during the demo, reps on hand did mention that the game will contain a mix of tunes. Besides including some of Chopin's music, the game will feature an original soundtrack.

Who could say no to a face like that?

Based on what we played, Eternal Sonata is looking like an engaging bit of quirky fun for the Xbox 360 and a welcome addition to the system's skimpy RPG catalog. The story's unique twist looks like it's surely going to keep the narrative interesting. The combat looks like it's shaping up to offer some nice bits of depth, with the light and dark mechanic, which should keep it from being a basic button masher. The variety of playable characters is cool, and there seems to be a lot to explore in the game. Eternal Sonata is currently slated to ship later this year for the Xbox 360. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Did you enjoy this article?

Sign In to Upvote

64 comments
emerald101
emerald101

Looks a lot like Tales of Symphonia!!!!!.... which is good

childe_roland
childe_roland

Nice to see an original idea for a change, sounds very creative, I look forward to hearing more about this one.

Lord_Daemon
Lord_Daemon

With every news release I become more and more anxious for this game to come out.

Extra_Life
Extra_Life

The game has my vote. Looks and sounds a little a like a Tales game too, which is another plus.

Rains_
Rains_

This looks like it shall be really good. =D

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Wow this game is kind of s screwed up. Those Japanese can come up with some weird stuff sometimes (but I still love Japan :D). Then again the 360 doesn't really have many RPGs so hopefully this will end up good.

DesmondPills
DesmondPills

idk why all japanese RPG characters scare me somewhat. idk if its the giant eyes or what but they live in the same realm as clowns with me.

The_Weekend
The_Weekend

Sounds interesting ... terminal illness ... better not be a trend for the gamers!

datniccah187
datniccah187

the whole idea of this game is wacked out. but it might actually be pretty good.

bnoodle
bnoodle

Nice. Hope there is enough time to play this before Blue Dragon comes out :)

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I've been keeping my eye on this since TGS and I will continue to do so.

xfan-atic
xfan-atic

This games look awsome! And the feels awsome to (no the gameplay I mean the setting of the game). I will buy it by all means.

GoltanaZerg
GoltanaZerg

Always glad to see an expanding RPG gamebase for the 360. Couldn't be happier about these developments.

TomokiHimi175
TomokiHimi175

It's not every day you hear about a story that plays out in the mind of a famous dying composer. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.

rad_2xl
rad_2xl

Whoa. That's one beautiful looking game.

Guiltfeeder566
Guiltfeeder566

"marckour I really want this, but is it just me, or do the screenshots look rather jagged? Don't get me wrong, I think with an RPG it's the story that makes the game rather than the graphics, but still, I just want to confirm that I'm not crazy in seeing some jagged edges" Its not even done yet, Im sure theyl be worked out before its released.

marckour
marckour

I really want this, but is it just me, or do the screenshots look rather jagged? Don't get me wrong, I think with an RPG it's the story that makes the game rather than the graphics, but still, I just want to confirm that I'm not crazy in seeing some jagged edges.

Blace_07
Blace_07

One of the reasons I got my 360, along with Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey.

-Jad-
-Jad-

This game make me buy up a Xbox360 a used one of course!, this one and Lost Odyssey, not so sure yet but the game seriously catch up my attention.

weaponman5000
weaponman5000

did anyone notice how that lady kinda seemed like she didn't exactly know what she was talkin about? or as if she completely wrote out what she was going to say and didn't really reherse it that well.

shraniken
shraniken

Typical jrpg story, meaning far beyond interesting and inventive.. R.I.P Oblivion.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

This looks like it could be a good RPG. I really like the look they have going with the graphics too, it's very cool.

NamcoKun
NamcoKun

The best game in the world _

LordAndrew
LordAndrew

Is Polka going to sound like that in the final game? I don't know if I could tolerate that for the entire game. But it does like very nice.

icemancell
icemancell

yes finally an rpg that looks good, sure hope its turned based.

DrCLos
DrCLos

Ummm... average and oddball are contrasting adjectives. So which is it?

MarcoSnow06
MarcoSnow06

Although the graphical style looks intriguing, the plot sounds like pretty average fare for a Japanese RPG. Here's hoping the gameplay will be able to outshine the oddball storyline.

medhawika
medhawika

Man...........this is awesome ! I hope this RPG can match the Playstation RPG !

BigDaveyDogz
BigDaveyDogz

seems interesting...not sure if this is my type of game though.

PeskyAlleyKat
PeskyAlleyKat

Sounds like an interesting story for a game, and looks pretty good too.

TigerGuy06
TigerGuy06

Finally...another RPG for the 360! Keep 'em coming!!!

fshockz
fshockz

first full Namco game on the 360? looks good.

buttons2010
buttons2010

Xbox360 needs more Japanese support! Capcom and Temco have been great and Konami have released a few live games but we need more games like this to convince the Japanese to pick up a 360.

buttons2010
buttons2010

Xbox360 needs more Japanese support! Capcom and Temco have been great and Konami have released a few live games but we need more games like this to convince the Japanese to pick up a 360.

Lord-Squiff
Lord-Squiff

LOL Sam. Looks effing lovely - bit like fable for girls though. Hope the soundtrack is Chopin too

MorkkiTH
MorkkiTH

When games like Eternal sonata, blue dragon and lost odyssey is coming to 360 it feels that RPG gods are blessing us and our 360 :D

Sam_Lowery
Sam_Lowery

This game looks amazing. The idea of it being one of Chopin's dreams wasn't really turning me on when I first heard it, but the stuff that has come out recently has been blowing me away. And I'm not easily blown.

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

I'm starting to anticipate this game

osxgp
osxgp

I guess we'll see if this game will be any good. Previews don't mean much compared to the finished product.

DoctorFu
DoctorFu

We need more RPGs like this! The 360 has one Final Fantasy and will get a couple of classics on the Xbox Marketplace. Can't wait for this game.