Eternal Sonata // NamcoBandai // Xbox360
Wow. Just wow. After falling in love with the look and premise of the game, I was desperately hoping that the actual gameplay itself wasn’t a let down – and so far I’m satisfied that that isn’t the case.
Short though the demo may be, it provides plenty of time with which to familiarize oneself with the game’s battle system. Briefly, it boils down to each character moving in turn, with the length of each turn governed by a countdown bar that begins decreasing as soon as you start moving. So, you have to balance moving around the battlefield (enemies can be near or far and are generally scattered rather than bunched) along with attacking.
Attacking is comprised of a regular attack that can be chained back-to-back along with a more powerful special move that requires an attack bar to be filled before use. This brings me to one of the more interesting ideas used in battle — fighting in light and shade affects how you battle along with who you battle. Separate special moves are available depending on whether you’re standing in light or shade but that isn’t all — the enemies themselves change as well. A small, insignificant looking creature will suddenly become a towering monstrosity when moving into the darkness.
Apart from the battles, the field is your usual RPG fare: running around forests and fields; choosing whether or not to confront the (thankfully visible) monsters; chatting to anyone and everyone; and hunting down the ubiquitous treasure chests. The main thing that stands out here is the fact that it all looks absolutely stunning. The cell-shaded look has never before been done so well, and seeing it all output to your screen at 720P is frankly jaw-dropping.
The demo is too short to learn anything about the characters themselves, apart from their repeated battle-cries. The storyline is potentially intriguing, set as it is in the mind of a near-death Chopin but the demo exists solely to show off the field and battle areas (along with one small town). Hopefully the final product will deliver on the excellent potential exhibited in this demo.
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