Shadow Hearts (PS2)
- Gothic/fantasy RPG
- A hero with a mysterious past
- Unravel the mystery of a beautiful young girl
- Wide variety of magic and weapons
- Fantastic 3D environments
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- Platform: PlayStation2
- PEGI Rating: Suitable for 16 years and over. Not for sale to persons under age 16. By placing an order for this product, you declare that you are 16 years of age or over.
- Media: Video Game
A hero with a mysterious past. A young girl holding the key to world domination. A villain who will stop at nothing to unlock the path to unlimited power. Prepare to experience an RPG unlike any other. Welcome to the world of Shadow Hearts.
Shadow Hearts is a turn-based role-playing game that combines a haunting storyline with a unique user-controlled battle system. Taking place during the early 20th century, the story starts with a young girl named Alice Eliot--the daughter of an expert exorcist--being transported by the Japanese imperial army to China on a train. Powerful magician Roger Bacon is on the same train, with the intention of kidnapping her because he believes she is the key to his master plan to unlock ancient secrets that'll destroy the earth. Enter Urm Hyuga, the son of a Japanese soldier who died in battle 15 years ago. He is a harmonixer-a man with the ability to morph into different creatures. Guided by a mysterious female voice, he rescues Alice, foiling the kidnapping attempt. Players will journey through China and Europe to uncover the evil scheme of Roger and his minions, as well as unravel the many mysteries surrounding the unique Shadow Heart's characters.
Top customer reviews
This game is slightly darker in tone than most Japanese RPG's, filled with scheming warlocks, man-eating demons and a hero who is possibly just a little unhinged! Shadow Hearts is set in a kind of alternate 1900's setting that brings to mind Cthulhu and Lovecraft - You know the stuff; Vast and ancient evil powers, sanity eroding magic and victorian technology.
The game plunges straight into the story with the sinister Roger Bacon (he is, honest!) slaughtering guards left right and centre as he attempts to abduct a seemingly helpless priest's daughter. Luckily our 'hero', Yuri, is on the same train and not about to let some diabolical Englishman make off with heroine! Yuri does not seem particulary bothered by having his arm ripped off (it just flies up and sticks back on!) nor the horrible little demon that Bacon uses to kill people (he contemptuosly crushes its head!) but merely turns into a huge great demon and rescues the girl - And then proceeds to put his fist through the bad guy's head and leaps off the train! Of course the villain is never finished that easily...
All this in the first 5 minutes!!!
The game follows the traditional pattern of exploring very pretty pre-rendered backdrops, chatting to the locals, buying stuff from shops and being jumped by random fights. The locations are very atmospheric and varied as are the people that inhabit them. It is no suprise to learn that the team who created this game are mostly made up of ex-Squaresoft employees...
The battle system is turn-based and features several innovations, most obvious of which is the Judgement Ring. This involves selecting an action (attack, cast spell etc.) and pressing the button at the correct moment to determine how effective this action is. Depending on how skillful you are, you can regularly pull of multiple critical hits! Another feature is the addition of Sanity Points which decrease as battles go on - When they are depleted the character goes beserk!
The characters are varied and interesting; Aside from the transforming Hero with the troubled past, you get a full cast of oddballs including the afforementioned priest's daughter with her holy magic, a wandering old man who beats up demons (and hurls fire!) and a sexy secret agent (where did she get that mobile phone in the 1900's...?)
All in all, Shadow Hearts is an enjoyable RPG that should keep fans of the genre engrossed for quite a while. If this game has any fault, it is that the designers are a little to fond of using this Judgement Ring in too many situations...
(I would mention the questionable quality of the voice acting, but it is more than made up for by the excellent music!)
It is the first RPG to successfully be nuclineated, a cross between nucleated and linear gameplay, with an interactive turn based battle system using the judgement ring, meaning every move is a minigame in itself, the 2D scenery, much like Final Fantasy IX gives a feel of reality, rather than glitchy 3D rendering which most games use and the comedy, yet seriousness behind the storyline gives a feel of excitement throughout.
Though not a multiplayer game in itself, it is definitely a game worthwhile playing with a friend, allowing you to discuss the deep plot, and plan theories as to how it will unwind, developing both characters stories and controversial issues involving the politics leading to the first world war and the arguments of the idealistic world, seen in the eyes of Roger Bacon and the Christian world of medieval England, combining to make one of the most brilliant RPGs I've ever played.
There are no faults with this game, besides those which were not such problems at the time but are now. Unfortunately, this brings the game down, although, respectively, for its now out-of-date engine, it was state of the art.
In the day's when this game was made, (Not actually THAT long ago, but before the extreme of FFX) the engine used was that similar to Dreamcast, superior to the PS one but inferior to that of PS2 and thus has graphics that, although clear, and understated, do not have the effect of games today. When the game was made, no better graphics were available to developers, so this would have been state of the art. It equals the same with voice overs, besides FMVs and graphic free cut scenes, there are no voices. Although this is supposedly a flaw, it allows imagination to build much more complex characters, however, you will find that it may become as apparent as a flaw after the wonder of Shadow Hearts 2: covenant, in which voice overs truly give the game a polished shine. FMVs are too scarce, especially in comparison to game length, not that it is so long and there are too long times between FMVs, but the game is reasonably short and does not use, what I presume is spare space on the disc for brilliant videos. Whether the engine used was wasteful of space or not I don't know, but being a short game, the videos should be more common.
These flaws were not apparent until FFX, a game which broke all barriers of what was previously thought to be the limit of gaming in terms of length and videos, but it had many more flaws that were not related to age, which Shadow Hearts didn't have.
It is truly amazing game, and the reality behind it is subtle and clever, though the fact a world and history that we know, has a much more dark and twisted hidden side. Side quests are, although simple, extremely storyline altering making the additional gameplay, a lot more important. This is certainly not minded as the battling is fun and the game, easy in comparison to others. The focus of this game is the storyline, so gripping, that money will be spent on the sequel before it's even had a chance to burn a hole in your pocket!
Items are able to be bought and sold and there are details of what each item does in the shop menus and the use menus.
There are side games and challenges which can be done to gain other items if it's wanted and the characters can also be fitted with podometers while walking around towns etc to gain other items through how many steps they've taken.
A nice twist to the game is the ability to gain monsters to help the main character Yuri (his name can be changed at the start) by going into a graveyard and checking headstones after the required amount of soul energy has been accumulated. If beaten they can be equipped and used in battle. While in the graveyard the malice that the main character has built up can be released by fighting it. The severity of the monster depends on what colour the malice meter is and once beaten Yuri gets given an item for his inventory.
I am a very keen role playing gamer and this is definitely up there with the best of the role playing games I've played. Maybe not for the look of it but definitely for the story line. Whoever wrote it should think about writing mythological stories too. Good stuff.
Most recent customer reviews
Using a unique ring system this RPG I believe goes beyond the norm of the...Read more