A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that underneath its pretty veneer, this Teen-rated game raises serious philosophical questions about the choices people make when faced with their own mortality. Several cut scenes take place at Frederic's deathbed in his Paris apartment. There's plenty of fantasy violence but nothing too realistic -- except when it's directed at rats and other animals. Settings include scenes in bars and a wine cellar and players will encounter a drunken person.
What's it about?
Video games have featured some unlikely heroes, but ETERNAL SONATA surely takes the cake by making its central character 19th-century composer Frederic Chopin. In real life, the sickly pianist succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 39, but in Eternal Sonata he's a robust character who whales on enemies with a souped-up conductor's baton and unleashes devastating magical attacks while uttering battle cries: \"You cannot stop my relentless advance!\"
As Chopin lies on his death bed in his Paris apartment, in his mind he travels to a beautiful fantasy world where he meets a girl named Polka who, like him, is afflicted with an incurable illness -- except that in Chopin's dream, characters who are doomed to die from illness are granted a wondrous side effect of being able to use magic. Eventually he and Polka meet up with other characters and set out to confront the warmongering Count Waltz, who is breeding a sinister army.
Is it any good?
Chopin's world is a gorgeous one, with bright and colorful surroundings and characters with exquisitely detailed costumes and expressive faces. Eternal Sonata also boasts a unique and dynamic battle system where there are a limited number of seconds to execute a turn, and special abilities are affected by whether the character is standing in light or shadow. Each battlefield includes both sun and shade, and a big part of fighting is maneuvering characters into the desired lighting. There are also documentary-style interludes that narrate important episodes in Chopin's life while his music, performed by pianist Stanislav Bunin, plays in the background.
In spite of its many high points, the game is weighed down by long cut scenes and the lack of an overworld map to prevent frustrating backtracking in several locations. Annoyances aside, however, Eternal Sonata is a fresh and beautiful role-playing.
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