The last progress log ended with Polka randomly inviting Fauxpin into the forest to show him something. Is it some kind of eldritch horror? Perhaps a stash of decapitated heads belonging to all of the sensible people who refused to be her friend? No, of course not; those things would be interesting, and Eternal Sonata takes place in Vanilla jRPG Land. She actually just wants to show him some flowers that serve as a heavy-handed metaphor for her “ticking time bomb” situation.
Addressing the Woody Allenphant in the room
“Also, you look like a 39 year-old man who’s hanging around my impressionable 14 year-old daughter late at night. But I’m going to let this slide because parenting.”
Killing pelicans in the name of goodness
It’s probably possible to get through the upcoming boss fight without any grinding, but it’s definitely a bit easier if Polka and Fauxpin gain some levels. Especially since the timing required to block is really precise, and a level or two can make a big difference as far as damage and damage reduction are concerned.
A giant monster pig appears in the forest, and our heroic nobodies suddenly become incredibly serious about murdering it. Now, focusing entirely on attacking isn’t a great idea because of how much damage this boss can inflict, but both Fauxpin and Polka have special attacks when standing in the light that heal the most damaged party member, and that allows Fauxpin to focus on attacking while Polka heals. Of course, you could do it the other way around, but she attacks a bit slower than he does.
Warning: not-at-all-forced metaphor ahead
After the two have established human dominance over the innocent forest critters, they finally reach the spot with the flowers Polka wanted to show off. These flowers only bloom at night, and while they’re beautiful, most people don’t like them because bad things happen at night and therefore darkness is evil. By the transitive property, then, the flowers are also evil. “Isn’t this short-sighted,” Eternal Sonata almost appears to ask, chiding the player for moral dualism so comically over-simplistic that it’s quintessentially inhuman. It’s basically the uncanny valley, except for morality.
Some gameplay changes
After Polka and Fauxpin’s boss fight, the party level went up. All that basically means is that character time can’t be stopped mid-turn anymore. It stays frozen at the start of their turn like before, but it can’t be frozen again once they start moving. It pays to be comfortable with everyone’s special moves, then, so it’s helpful to switch your light/dark special attacks around until you find something you’re comfortable with. Personally, I’m fine with the defaults for now. Annoying secondary character Beat has a move that takes pictures instead of attacking, and that can be weird, but I also sold some of the crappy pictures he took for 12,000 gold. That could be useful.
Another change is that attacking now builds up “echoes.” This isn’t much beyond a shared party combo counter that isn’t reset by enemy attacks. It is reset by special attacks, however, and using a special attack when the counter is high causes it to do more damage. The best strategy is to do a bunch of normal attacks to build up the counter, then perform a special move that hits a bunch of times (because those extra hits count toward the next combo counter) to give you a head start on the next one.
It’s also revealed that some monsters change into more powerful forms with different attacks depending on whether they’re in the light or dark part of the stage. I don’t remember how prevalent or important this is off the top of my head.
And then it’s time for another boss fight
Allegretto and Beat don’t have the ability to heal outside of using consumable floral powder, so ending the fight as quickly as possible here is probably the best strategy. The little mouse guys can’t damage Allegretto because I did a little grinding beforehand, so everyone can focus on the boss (though it’s not a big deal if Beat starts shooting at one of them; it builds up echoes either way). This fight is really simple: everyone just attacks normally a bunch, then Allegretto uses his Sun Slash attack to land a bunch of hits and do a ton of damage. Rinse and repeat.
Finally, a weird history lesson
I had totally forgot about these little “did you know” sections that cover parts of real-life Chopin’s life while going through a slideshow of somewhat random photographs. This is my favorite Chopin song, so I didn’t really mind the sudden break, though at 3:30 the text confuses “lead” and “led.” That’s something that I’ve encountered frequently enough lately for it to drive me a little crazy. So much darkness.