Otherwise, Symphony’s combat is pretty solid JRPG fare. Elemental weaknesses, defensive stances, and active and passive skills all factor in very powerfully, making for a delicious tactical experience. Well, during boss battles at least; these are especially satisfying encounters that are sure to wear the player’s inventory right down to the nub every time. The player’s instinct to conserve resources for bosses makes regular battles much less interesting by comparison — again, the Break system could have made a big difference here because it doesn’t draw on the player’s consumables in any way. At least the regular encounters move very swiftly!
So far, so good! If Symphony had a solid interface and a beautiful over-all presentation, I could wrap up early and give it a lofty score. Unfortunately, Symphony falls short in both these areas. I’m usually not one to factor graphics very heavily into review scores, but there are certain bedrock aesthetic principles a game should follow. For example, making the graphics big enough for the player to see what’s happening without squinting would be mighty helpful! This isn’t a problem at all in battle, but exploration strains the eye because the sprites and environments are simply microscopic. Solid objects are strewn around the maps to make evading enemies more challenging, and on some maps these objects are so small and camouflaged that the player gets stuck on them easily.
The more important problem with Symphony’s maps is that walkable paths are surprisingly constricted despite the high screen area-to-character size ratio. Maps are tight and packed with foes, which makes avoiding unwanted fights nigh impossible in many cases. As a result, there are still a ton of regular battles to slog through — and with these being less appealing than boss battles, it takes a hardened JRPG veteran to get through it all without his or her eyes glazing over. Do note that thorough exploration nets the player an item that increases map walking speed within the game’s first dungeon, and this is a definite help when there happens to be enough room for some fancy footwork.
Symphony needs work on the touch sensitivity of its various menu buttons too. Distributing Merit Points with tiny plus and minus buttons can be trying, and the slivers of virtual buttons used to navigate menus are a bit difficult to hit just right. Mercifully, the battle command buttons and touch boxes around targets are reliable. Symphony requires the player to save manually, which can be done at any time but takes a little digging through its system menu. A save hotlink button would come in handy while the player’s exploring. For map movement, the player can choose between tap-and-go and a virtual D-pad; I stuck with the latter because it’s far more reliable for avoiding enemies when there’s enough space to do so.
Symphony features something I haven’t seen in years — a sound test! Excited as I was for this jukebox feature that’s sadly gone the way of the dinosaurs, I found the game’s soundtrack merely serviceable. Its tunes are certainly appropriate for each environment, but none of them stuck with me when I exited for a break every now and then. I’ve seen some previews that show snazzy Mode 7 effects applied to Symphony’s overworld, but if there’s an option for enabling this on the iOS version, I’m not seeing it. Players should expect a good fifteen to twenty hours from Symphony, so the game’s price range is certainly justified by its length.
iFanzine Verdict: In many ways, Symphony of Eternity plays like everything you could ever hope for in a JRPG: it serves up a truly great character class system, a competently delivered (if average) plot, and a battle system that encourages a strategic approach over level grinding. Sadly, it’ll take a diehard genre fan to get past Symphony’s tedious regular battles, which are often enforced by constricted environments. Less-than-friendly menu navigation also hurts. If you’re a JRPG fan who’s keeping an eye out for the more innovative entries you’re likely to find on this platform, you’ll want to grab this one while it’s still half off.