Shadow Hearts: Covenant
Description official descriptions
The year is 1915. War has raised its ugly head to greet the nations of Europe. A year and a half after the events described in Shadow Hearts, the French town of Domremy resists German invasion, rumored to be protected by a demon. The German army sends Lieutenant Karin Koenig along with a man named Nicolas, allegedly an inquisitor from the Vatican, whose task is to exorcise the demon. When the two arrive in Domremy, events take an unexpected turn. Karin meets the young harmonixer Yuri Hyuga, who is afflicted with a curse that gradually saps the life out of him. Yuri travels across Europe and through Russia to the Far East, trying to find a cure before it is too late, and stop a secret society from dominating the world by political and magical means.
Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a direct sequel to Shadow Hearts, continuing its story and featuring the same main protagonist as well as a few recurrent characters. Like the previous game, it is set in a concrete historical epoch with heavy supernatural additions. Several historical characters, such as the Russian princess Anastasia, play important roles in the game's plot.
The game's combat system is similar to that of the predecessor: the Judgment Ring adds an arcade element to the turn-based combat, requiring the player to stop a spinning arrow when it passes specific areas of a ring. There are more ring types in the sequel and more possibilities to customize the ring, modifying its areas as well as status-changing properties. The player can select various difficulty levels based on the speed of the arrow and the size of the ring's areas.
The Sanity Points system and Yuri's special ability to transform into monsters and visit the graveyard for more powerful fusion variants have been preserved. Characters can now team up to perform combo attacks of various properties: standard, hard hit, high angle and knock down. Damage dealt to enemies increases when the player continues a combo with fitting attacks, taking into account the weight type of the enemy and the effect different attack types are having on him. As opposed to the first game, magic is obtained by equipping crests of various elemental types. These crests and the magic spells they contain can be swapped between characters.
- シャドウハーツＩＩ - Japanese spelling
Credits (PlayStation 2 version)
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Average score: 83% (based on 22 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 21 ratings with 1 reviews)
"This is going to be very boring", I said. From the very start I couldn't find a single entangling thing about this game. I knew why I didn't get any prequel and I was starting to think that this may prove to be just as devious experience and all I did was got myself entrapped. Hours passed and I felt lonely... the game just didn't connect... or so I've thought. But after some 10-15 hours of gameplay the entire concept got a brand new reflection. Sub-quests introduced many new characters of which some were quite funny to interact with.
Battles are somewhat original, and become easy the moment you get ability to slowen the rotation of the judgment ring by 50% (can't get any less than that, afaik). The game's setting is during World War I era, but don't fool yourself into thinking there's much into history facts, it is not, but you'll feel the concept of war on all fronts and battle various wanna-be rulers. That is one of the best thing, though, watching how they lose their commanders and tools to rule supreme, one by one. And boss battles are quite okay if you get used to the same old stale strategy, even the grand finale though that lasts long and seems a bit unfair. But is doable nonetheless, I'm no pro in this genre, yet took me but a single attempt.
Game's graphic is nothing special considering the time it came out, but PS2 mediocre with pre-rendered CG looking only slightly better than in-game cinematics. Soundtrack is okay and has lots of great piano tracks as well as some ambient tracks which depict current setting fine even though it needs to be irritating at times. The front cover features a good looking redhead which might be the reason to attract some of the players skeptical to try the game (ahem, well, err...), and she's a main girl in the game alright, but not the main protagonist around which the story goes. Think of it as the same relation we had seen in Final Fantasy X between Yuna and Tidus.
As I mentioned, the game really started in a sort of repelling way and took hours of gameplay before it removed smirk on my face and forced up a smile... and that is most thankful to the fact it is so childish on so many occasions where direction feels funny because of how silly it is, while on the other side dialogues that start as silly and foolish can turn into hilarious scenes to which you simply cannot remain untouched.
This is supposed to be a horror game, and hence at first you'll notice many monsters that try to look horrifying if you lend it any more thought to how they look. But bottomline, they may just seem disgusting and repelling making this game look real crappy on occasions as if there was very little inspiration in the development of bestiary. Think giant tomato with fireballs... now where is that one from, I wonder ;)
In the end you end up with eight characters of which you never need four except for one small portion of the game where you need to split parties (I can't stand that, you just get used to playing with some and then you need to split parties, not to mention that only half of your party is strong and upgraded while the other half is rather mediocre in fighting). Let them for once make you be able to control all your characters in the party and give you the upper edge in combat, now there goes an idea. Yuri is okay, Karin is just the same, Blanca is cool to have, and Joachim is good when he turns into bat (was lucky to have him as bad during last combat). Oh yeah, and Anastasia is cute and very funny when fooling around with Joachim. But some characters like Lucia can be so annoying makes you regret you actually saved her after she tried to kill you, not to mention her voice-acting is so incredibly irritating that it literally feels like not a third-rate production, but that of very very very low budget acting.
Dunno about NTSC version, but PAL has typically bad subtitling as the entire movie selection coming from UK. Dunno what they're thinking, but subtitles in english from english should serve as hearing comparison, not to be entirely different, and this game defines the meaning different as subtitles have very little in common with what is said on, oh so many occasions.
The Bottom Line
There is absolutely nothing that would make me proclaim this title as good, but it has so many fine moments it's hard to call it bad after all this. But it will be quite self-explanatory and does not require any intimate knowledge about its predecessor in order to make it follow.
PlayStation 2 · by MAT (238622) · 2012
|Do I need to play the prequel for this?||—- (1620)||Jan 21st, 2008|
Shadow Hearts: Covenant is not only set in a concrete historical epoch, but also features real historical characters. One of them is Grigori Rasputin. An uneducated man from a peasant family, Rasputin miraculously became the counselor of the Russian Emperor Nicolai. He considered himself a messenger of God and claimed to have magical healing powers. Many people considered him a cheat and a scoundrel, but his influence on other people (mostly women) was immense. The Empress was suspected in having a love affair with him. In the end, Rasputin was ambushed and assassinated by a group of politicians. Shadow Hearts: Covenant presents quite an interesting alternate story of this person.
- 2004 – PS2 RPG of the Year
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- MobyGames ID: 13013
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Game added by Unicorn Lynx.
Game added April 27th, 2004. Last modified March 28th, 2023.