Shadow Hearts Reviews (PlayStation 2)

Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.

User Reviews

A brilliant and extremely underrated RPG. DarkDove (70) 4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars

Our Users Say

Category Description User Score
Acting The quality of the actors' performances in the game (including voice acting). 3.6
AI How smart (or dumb) you perceive the game's artificial intelligence to be 3.6
Gameplay How well the game mechanics work (player controls, game action, interface, etc.) 3.8
Graphics The quality of the art, or the quality/speed of the drawing routines 3.8
Personal Slant How much you personally like the game, regardless of other attributes 4.1
Sound / Music The quality of the sound effects and/or music composition 4.1
Story / Presentation The main creative ideas in the game and how well they're executed 4.0
Overall User Score (28 votes) 3.9

Critic Reviews

MobyRanks are listed below. You can read here for more information about MobyRank.
RPGFan (Jan 21, 2002)
Sacnoth’s latest game and sequel to Koudelka, named Shadow Hearts, has not only been vastly improved from its predecessor, but may very well be used to mark the beginning of better RPGs for the PlayStation 2’s lackluster library of RPG titles thus far.
PSM (Jan, 2002)
Add to this the game's incredible visuals, as well as a wonderful game world, and SH does just about everything right. The only flaws to be found lay with the game's voice acting and the fact that the game sometimes skews on the easy side. Shadow Hearts is so solid, involving, and fun that no RPG fan should be without it.
Gamezilla (Jan 17, 2002)
I also feel the game is accurately rated Mature as there are lots of sexually suggestive and racy comments throughout the game. If you’re a turn-based or real-time RPG or action-adventure fan and don’t mind dark themes, or if you’re looking for an RPG with a twist to the average gameplay mechanics, I’d highly recommend this game which is why I give it a score of 87.
With a darker storyline than most "me too" RPGs, Shadow Hearts makes the leap to PS2 with style and grace, building on the impressive groundwork they laid in the PSOne title, Koudelka. Although a bit more linear than some other RPGs being released for PS2, it also has a fresher storyline. If dark fantasy is more your speed than high fantasy, Shadow Hearts is a game you must add to your PS2 library.
GameSpy (Jan 25, 2001)
With all the hype surrounding the release of Squaresoft's next magnum opus, a game like Shadow Hearts is susceptible to falling through the cracks. Published by Midway and developed by Sacnoth (made up primarily of former Squaresoft employees and makers of the PSOne game Koudelka), Shadow Hearts is a highly original RPG with interesting characters, a unique (if slightly hackneyed) storyline, and one of the best turn-based fighting engines ever, thanks to the Judgement Ring, and inventive method of making time-based actions more challenging.
RPGFan (May 28, 2011)
Shadow Hearts is an unpolished yet loveable example of the alluring JRPGs of yesteryear that make our memories comforting and our nostalgia keen.
While it may not share the blockbuster production values of other RPG's released for the PS2 this recent Christmas season, Shadow Hearts manages to shine on its own merits. Most importantly, it shows that the gothic horror theme developers Sacnoth tried to pull off in their PSOne release Koudelka could be successfully integrated into a more solid game.
GameSpot (Dec 19, 2001)
In a year where quality RPGs were hard to come by, the PlayStation 2 goes out with a bang with the back-to-back releases of Final Fantasy X and its surprisingly formidable contemporary, Shadow Hearts. Midway has a winner on its hands with Shadow Hearts, which offers a refreshing new look at the genre. Despite its considerable depth, Shadow Hearts is easy to get into and yet maintains a satisfying level of challenge. If you're looking for an exciting approximately 40-hour diversion (and tongue-in-cheek adult themes aren't going to scare you away), then you should definitely try this one out.
77 (Jun 20, 2002)
Mutta jos nousevan auringon maa ja sen pelikulttuuri ei herätä sinussa mitään tuntemuksia, SH jättää kylmäksi takuuvarmasti. Se on vain keskinkertaisesti toteutettu perusseikkailu, hienot FMV:t loistavat poissaolollaan ja hahmoanimaatiokin on pian katsottu. Jäljelle jää paljon luettavaa dialogia, pikkupöksyhuumoria ja varsin "luovaa" englannin kielen käyttöä.
76 (Jul 16, 2002)
Vor allem für Rollenspiel Neulinge stellt Shadow Hearts einen optimalen Einstieg dar. Eine einfach gestrickte Geschichte, kaum Möglichkeiten, sich zu verirren und ein spannendes, innovatives Kampfsystem machen den Titel trotz einiger Schwächen zu einem spielenswerten Abenteuer.
75 (Mar 25, 2002)
Shadow Hearts constitue une excellente surprise pour les amateurs de RPG. Son atmosphère glauque renouvelle de façon particulièrement efficace l'univers des jeux de rôle, apportant par ailleurs toutes sortes de nouvelles idées en terme de gameplay. Le soft idéal pour patienter jusqu'à la sortie de FFX.
Just Adventure (Feb 25, 2002)
With the lack of true RPGs out for the PS2, Shadow Hearts should be on everyones short list along with Final Fantasy 10 and Grandia 2. I enjoy the game in chunks, often taking week long breaks between adventure, but I keep coming back to it. I liked the game a lot more before I played Final Fantasy 10, but absent that game, it stands out pretty well on its own.
70 (May 28, 2002)
Zwar hat Sacnoth bei Shadow Hearts einige Kritikpunkte, die Koudelka größeren Erfolg verwährt hatten, ausgemerzt, aber so ganz überzeugen kann das Ergebnis noch immer nicht. Vor allem die längst überholt geltenden Zufallskämpfe und der lineare Spielverlauf samt eingeschränkter Handlungs- und Entdeckungsfreiheit wird Rollenspiel-Feinschmeckern missfallen - von der dürftigen Technik einmal abgesehen. Was den Titel für Genrefans dennoch spielenswert macht, ist neben dem kurzweiligen Verwandlungs-Feature in erster Linie der originelle Einsatz des so genannten Urteilsrads, der dem ansonsten zwar facettenreichen, aber wenig innovativem Gameplay durch individuelle Geschicklichkeitstests den nötigen Kick verleiht. Auch die spannende Story und düstere Atmosphäre fesseln trotz eigenwilliger und teils schwacher Übersetzung ans Joypad - insgesamt solide Rollenspielkost für Einsteiger und Reaktionsschnelle.
Diehard GameFan (Feb 18, 2008)
It’s out of print, but a lot of fun. I’d suggest playing this before Sh2, but Sh3 is stand alone for the most part. I’d heartily suggest the entire trilogy along with Koudelka to just about anyone.
GamePro (US) (Dec 12, 2001)
An intriguing story of Japanese imperialism mixed with Chinese mysticism sets the stage for Shadow Hearts, a solid but familiar feeling M-rated--and sometimes pretty graphic--RPG. Expect the typical RPG gameplay with turn-based battles featuring a unique timing-based combat system, and the normal item buying and magic spell learning. Shadow Hearts' visuals and sounds are nice, but unfortunately they don't match up to those of other RPG wonders. A predictable plot and linear gameplay are the minuses to this otherwise well-crafted dark RPG.
Game Chronicles (Jan 20, 2002)
If you’re a huge RPG fan looking for a new experience, this game is something you might buy. It’s actually a pretty decent game, and worth playing - just not worth fifty dollars. I had a lot of fun playing it, and I was pretty entertained. However, if you’re the occasional RPG player like myself, I suggest renting it or borrowing it, but save your cash for Final Fantasy X. Just remember, if you do play Shadow Hearts, keep your resident elders away from it, or they might end up ruining a perfectly good pair of pants.
Gaming Target (Feb 19, 2002)
Shadow Hearts has lots of things going for it. The problem comes from the fact that what is a good game on the surface is bogged down with a clichéd plot, less than strategic battles, and terrible dialogue. A lot of terrible dialogue. I really like the battle system and Shadow Hearts definitely has a style that could fuel a game. If only the developer Sacnoth could take those things and place them in a game that doesn't drive me crazy after a while. It's good, don't get me wrong, there's just this nagging feeling it could be a lot better.
IGN (Dec 20, 2001)
Unfortunately, Shadow Hearts is a slow-moving RPG, and not a very pretty one either, which is enough to toll its death knell in the face of the kind of competition that's hitting the market right now. Even second-line games like Jade Cocoon and Grandia II outshine it in with better looks and more engaging gameplay, to say nothing of Final Fantasy X. Its story and setting are certainly novel, but what that means is that I'd rather be reading this as a book or watching it as a film instead of having to slog through it as a game. Shadow Hearts' oddity may earn it some devoted fans, as tends to happen with most RPGs, but most gamers should take a pass, in favor of the many more attractive choices hitting the market right about now.
Game Revolution (Jan 01, 2002)
Shadow Hearts is just not very exciting. The combat can't find a comfortable medium between action and strategy. Graphically, it's somewhere between PSOne and PS2. As a story, Shadow Hearts would have made a great anime series, but instead, it comes out as only an average game.
Legendra (May 26, 2005)
Mon sentiment sur ce jeu est très moyen. En effet, le scénario est banal, la réalisation est médiocre et le jeu ne propose quasiment pas de challenge. Les personnages sont clichés et le jeu tombe dans un humour spécial... Néanmoins les deux points forts du titre, que sont le Judgement Ring et l'ambiance malsaine, réussissent à nous maintenir éveillés. Il faut parfois faire preuve d'une certaine patience car ma manette a manqué plus d'une fois de rencontrer violemment le sol à cause des " miss " répétés sur le Judgement Ring. Comptez une vingtaine d'heures pour finir le jeu, trente si vous voulez faire les side-quests. Certaines personnes ont dû le trouver à leur goût puisque Midway développe le 3ème volet de la saga. Pour ma part je ne peux que vous conseiller de l'essayer avant de l'acheter.