I just started Eternal Sonata. It’s a Japanese RPG on the Xbox 360 that takes place in the dreams of Frederic Chopin as he’s about to die from tuberculosis; how could I pass up a concept like that?

A few hours in, I’m quite happy to be playing it. At the core, it’s a not-too-outlandish JRPG, but there are several nice touches. The visuals are quite distinctive: lots of bright colors everywhere, and the characters are done in a sort of cel-shaded style, with a little less detail and flatter textures than the backgrounds, making for a distinctive but subdued look. The combat and leveling up system are on the action RPG end, with a real time component (including movement) to your turns, not too many options at any given time, and the playing field divided into light and shadow areas that give you different attacks. And there’s a concept of a “party level” which increases very slowly, giving rise to new nuances in the combat system, so while combat is quite straightforward now, I imagine it will get noticeably more complicated by the time I’m ten hours in.

It’s not my shaping up to be my favorite underappreciated 2007 game or my favorite RPG of 2007, but it’s certainly a good way to pass several hours.

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