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Review Content

Eternal Sonata sounds too good to be true. It's crammed full of music, love and romance. Set in a beautiful fantasy world and, better still its also packed full of action with a battle system that continually keeps you alert.

Composer Frederic Chopin is on his death bed as the clock slowly ticks away, and the story takes place in his mind. But the real story is an alternative reality in his thoughts. His first friend is Polka, a loveable girl with magic pigtails. They are joined in their adventures by other companions such as street urchins Alegretto and Beat, and goat herder Viola and together with Prince Crescendo and Princess Serenade they unite against the evil ruler Count Waltz, who is turning the inhabitants of the town of Forte into addicts, hooked on some sort of mineral powder. Your job is to get them unaddicted by accumulating floral powder and healing cookies earned along the way.

The graphics are stunning, imaginative and beautifully suited o the storyline. The clothes are drawn in terrific detail, and interiors of the cottages are filled with meticulously designed decoration. Environments are spectacularly rendered on PlayStation 3, but all of this 2D art does curtail depth of view in 3D. The PS3 version does suffer from some odd, occasional frame rate hitches; a minor problem in context.

Music plays an important part and is as stunning as the visuals. The voice acting is solid enough. The gameplay matches the other aspects of the production. There are no random encounters, so you can see every monster. You will have to take part in some battles and some terrific boss fights. Eternal Sonata's battle system is an inventive mix of turn-based and real-time warfare and gets trickier as the game progresses.

First up is your action bar. Each character has a limited amount of time to complete his or her turn before it ends. But within that turn, you can move freely about the battlefield. Each action, whether an attack, a spell, or a simple movement reduces the bar even more. As your party level increases, the planning time you have decreases, special attacks deplete more of your meter.

If you're standing in the light, you have a different set of skills available to you than if you are standing in shadows, and these abilities may change depending on how close you are to your enemy. It gets complicated as your enemies behave in a similar manner. The same applies to weapons which are effective in the shadows than in the sun. There are many other features too numerous to describe here.

There is so much more to this game, I have not even mentioned the emotionally charged aspects of it. The whole thing has to be seen and heard to be believed.