Shadow Hearts -- The Covenant - Box

Shadow Hearts -- The Covenant
Ages: Teen

A RPG game with magic, curses and weird characters. A judgment ring to amplify your attacks and the ability to transform into more than 20 characters. The game opens in 1915, in France with German soldiers fighting for control of village, when a dragon - yes a dragon - massacres the army leaving only Karen who witnesses the demon reverting to human form. And this sets the stage for Yuri and Karen continue on their quest that includes truly strange characters.

The Judgment ring controls your battle action. Timing is required to coordinate action with the special colored areas in the ring. There is replay value with this game because different relationships will effect the ending.

Reviewed by: Editor - 10/04

Travel through 1915 Europe, Japan, and scenic unearthly locations! Solve easy puzzles! Battle monsters and demons! Unravel a mythical plot surrounding the sacred ... mistletoe? Whatever.

Second in its series, this feels easier than the genre mainstay Final Fantasy, but shares many of the same traits (and, as it turns out, some developers). But where Final Fantas never doubts its own universe, this RPG is filled with slightly off-key details. Like the "ring soul" that has to correct listeners that get his name wrong, "I'm a soul -- not a spirit!". then cuts a conversation short to get back to his wife; or the "stud cards" - pictures of nude male bodybuilders traded to gay shopkeepers for magical puppet dresses. It's as if the game was almost done when the writer was struck by lightning and his kid brother took over and finished it.

However, there's nothing off-key about the turn-based battle system. It uses a ring with different colored areas. Hit a button at exactly right time and hit stronger; miss, and miss your turn. A character can add more strike zones to their ring, can grow the basic hit and the special strike zones, and rings can grow smaller, faster, slower, and even run backwards. Because all this messes with your muscle memory of exactly when to twitch, it really engages you in battles, rather than making them just another thing to get through.

Add well-directed voice talent that really brings characters to life, competent camerawork, landscapes full of lush detail, a system of elements and powers that lets you strategize but doesn't get in the way if you don't, and you get 40, 50 hours worth of gameplay whose details will keep you entertained and, occasionally, make you giggle at yet another off-the-wall character or incredibly cheesy piece of dialog.

Reviewed by: Jutta Degener - 10/04

  • Shadow Hearts -- The Covenant
  • © Midway $49.99
  • PS2
  • To Order: PS2