I bought this game after reading a number of positive reviews on various gaming websites and I must say that I am disappointed.
I am no stranger to JRPG's, but I do feel that this is a particularly weak release.
First, the good points:
It is a beautifully presented game. The cel-shaded characters and environments are rendered fantastically.
Also, the musical score is something special, and that is aside from the Chopin that ends each chapter.
On to the negative:
The game plays a lot like Final Fantasy, with the user selecting three members to fight out of a sizeable roster of characters. However, the gameplay is extremely repetitive. It consists of using a normal attack repeatedly until you build up enough Echoes to make a powerful special attack, then rinse and repeat. Sometimes you might want to move into the light or shadow to change what special attack you use, but most of the time you'll just run up behind the nearest enemy and smack them about until they die. Interspersed with this are boss fights which are abnormally more difficult than standard fights. I came across an annoying feature on a number of occasions in which a save sphere was placed some distance away from a boss fight, so you had to repeat an entire section to get back to where you were before.
The voice acting is ok, typical lost-in-translation Japanese nonsense provided by Americans who do an excellent impression of an annoying child. But the voice acting will eventually start to grate because of....
THE CUTSCENES!! I play RPG's mainly for the story and character development, and I love a good story. Despite this, the amount of bloated, overlong cutscenes in Eternal Sonata is astounding. You'll often find yourself sitting through 7 minutes of cutscene, too scared to skip it in case you miss some crucial plot point, only to find out it's seven minutes of some minor character wittering on about how they want to be a flower when they grow up. It's soul destroying whenever plenty of games manage to get an excellent story across without having a 20 minute cutscene in which a character reveals he doesn't like dancing. I have plenty of time for the whimsical nature of JRPG's, but this one takes the mickey.
As for character customisation, there is none. Picking up new weapons and armor will upgrade your stats, but your character will always look the same, whether in roaming mode, or in fights. No possibility of customization exists whatsoever.
These are just the main issues, there a few minor bugbears that I won't mention here.
I think that this game garnered positive reviews simply because it is one of the very few RPG's available on the PS3.
Simply, if you like RPG's with a strong, well delivered story and gameplay that really requires you to think, the Eternal Sonata isn't for you. If, on the other hand, you like repetitive fighting and a linear plot, get this game.