For a developer to get a turn-based RPG noticed on the market today without the Final Fantasy label seems to be one of the most difficult tasks in gaming. Many developers in the past have tried with good efforts but none have made a distinct name for themselves. Midway has teamed up with Nautilus to bring us a game to try to make a name for themselves. Their latest effort is Shadow Hearts: Covenant for the PS2; but is it any good? Read our review to find out!
The original Shadow Hearts, which was released a few years ago really wasn’t all that great of a game, and going into this review I honestly wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of this game either. It’s not that I didn’t have faith in the developers I just really hadn’t heard much about the game and didn’t expect it to come out with much.
The game takes place a little while after the first game when World War 1 really started to get going. The opening cut scene shows a German Army’s attempt to take over a French town but ends up getting demolished by a big evil demon. It ends up being the famous Yuri who decided that he wanted to protect this little town, although not long after that he has a curse placed on him.
If you haven’t heard anything about Shadow Hearts: Covenant you will probably want to know a little bit about the game. Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a very dark and eerie game that is very much an adult themed game. On paper this doesn’t sound dark, but let me tell you the storyline takes some very dark twists and turns that really are specifically made for the more mature and age worthy gamer. With this being said the game does provide a whole lot of diversity with its characters. You will meet a ton of different interesting personalities along the way that really make your experience in the game a whole lot more entertaining.
Well the storyline would be nothing without having the support of a solid combat system, which is something Shadow Hearts definitely has. Shadow Hearts: Covenant runs on a turn based system that has a heavy influence on speed and accuracy. Once you quickly decide what type of move you will be doing a hand will start sweeping around a disc and then you will have to time your attacks right. If you do everything in perfect fashion then your action will be done with perfection at its top point, if not then you can guess what will happen.
On paper it can be hard to understand this system and why it would work but I am here to tell you that it does and it’s a whole lot of fun. The more you mess around with this combat system the more you will see that it does a great job of blending strategy and accuracy. This spinning ring really helps keep you more involved in the game, something that a lot of RPG’s have problems with.
As you get further into the game, combo attacks become more and more important and for good reason. You first must move all of the members of your group closer together and then have them move in an attack chain. You get combo bonuses and plenty of reasons why you would want to pull off these cool combos. The further you get through the game the more this task will become second nature and will become much easier to pull off. The combat system in the game is one that really does a lot better in my eyes then most turn based RPG’s because it allows you to really stay involved with the game, something most games have had trouble doing.
I wish I could just stress enough how impressive the battle system in Shadow Hearts: Covenant really is. I have never been a huge fan of turn based RPG’s before, but this one really made a believer out of me. The gameplay does take some time to get used to and there are some slower parts to the game, but when you look at the gameplay at a whole the game is great start to finish.
In my opinion the first Shadow Hearts visuals were not anywhere near as good as they could have been. It was a game that you could see had a lot of potential but in the long run it really didn’t cut it. Does the second try end up better?
In Shadow Hearts: Covenant you have some really great things and some not so great things all combined into one game. First the games character models have to be one of the biggest upsides for the game as they all have such unique personalities. You can see the artists that created these characters really spent a lot of time putting a whole lot of detail into each character. The environments although some seem kind of bland most have a lot of life and color in them.
On the downsides there are a lot of jaggies that are found throughout the game. It’s not like there everywhere but they are apparent throughout the game. Overall though the game is still a very solid looking title that does have its flaws but manages to work with them very nicely.
Shadow Hearts is not a short game by any means, as it will take normal gamers anywhere from thirty to forty hours to complete. Now of course the game isn’t going to be breath taking from start to finish, but it does stay entertaining. The developers made some great steps to making the turn based RPG system a lot more enjoyable then many other games. I must say with the great storyline and solid gameplay that this game really is a lot of fun, and would be fun to any fans of the series or of RPG’s.
Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a game that has all of the making to make a great game. The storyline is there, the gameplay is there, and so are the graphics. Anyone looking for a new turn based RPG for your PS2 should defiantly go give Shadow Hearts Covenant a try.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.