Shadow_Hearts:_Covenant

Shadow Hearts: Covenant

Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a console role-playing game developed by Nautilus and published by Midway 2004. It is a direct continuation of Shadow Hearts and the second official game in the Shadow Hearts series. The game features two DVD-ROM discs instead of the usual one, which provides, according to the publisher, over forty hours of gameplay.

The game is also known as . This is the name used within the game itself: the name "Shadow Hearts: Covenant" was used only on the American and European packaging and in advertising.

The story starts a year and half after Shadow Hearts in the midst of World War I. The heroes are drawn into an intriguing plot involving the demons of demonolatry, the chief advisor of the tsar of Russia and a man from main character Yuri's past.

The release of Shadow Hearts: Covenant generated much more fanfare than its predecessor. As such, the series gained a much wider following in the United States. It was named RPG Vault PS2 Game of the Year for 2004

Gameplay

The Judgment Ring from Shadow Hearts returns with many modifications and improvements. Also, battle has been greatly expanded by different types of attacks as well as combo attacks. An element of physics has been added to battles as well, which links to the types of combo attacks which can be performed.

In Shadow Hearts: Covenant, players are able to customise the Judgment Ring to their own preferences with the introduction of two new Ring items: Hit Area Expand and Strike Expand, making the game easier or more challenging to the player, depending on what they want. Several ring types are also introduced to cater to the different players e.g. Practice Ring for beginners, Normal Ring for amateurs, Technical Ring for veterans and lastly, Auto Ring for gamers who simply are just too lazy to aim at the Judgment Ring.

A worthy mention of the new battle mechanism would be the introduction of the Crest Magic system, where players are able to equip Crests to certain characters that would allow them to cast different types of elemental magic. Along the journey, players are able to collect new crests and use more powerful magic. The crests may also be positioned in a key item known as Solomon's Key. Positioning the crests correctly will unlock new spells for each crest for a certain region. It should be noted that most of the crests' names are derived from the names of various demons in several ancient mythology.

Shadow Hearts: Covenant also includes "Hit Classes" which are incorporated with the physical and magical attacks. These include: Standard, Hard Hit, High Angle and Knock Down. Depending on the "weight" of the opponent monster, you'll be able to do more damage when connecting a combo during battle. Conversely, if an attack with an inappropriate Hit Class is used to continue a combo, the end result is a missed attack, or rather, a Combo Break.

For example, a Standard hit will simply push an enemy behind while attacking. This allows for any other type of Hit Class attack to be connected to do a Combo. A High Angle and Knock Down combo attack is another similar example. However, say if a Knock Down attack is applied to an enemy who has a "Heavy" weight followed by a High Angle hit, it will most probably miss since the enemy is still Knocked Down at that moment when the combo attack is made.

Combo shortcuts are also introduced where players are able to assign physical/magical attacks onto the controller buttons. This reduces the time taken to create a Combo attack as one character can attack immediately after another with a simple press of the button. However, this makes the game more challenging as players have to decide quickly what kind of attack they should follow up next as the combo shortcut menu appears only for a short amount of time i.e. when the preceding character is in the midst of launching his/her attack.

Plot

The town of Domremy has stubbornly refused to fall to the German advance at the beginning of World War I thanks to the aid of a "demon" which seems to defend it. Lieutenant Karin Koenig of the German army is sent along with a person who claims to be an Inquistor from the Vatican, Nicolas Conrad, to acquire a means of exorcising this demon, the Holy Mistletoe. However, the 'Demon of Domremy' is actually the Harmonixer Yuri from the first Shadow Hearts. Nicolai casts the curse of the Mistletoe on Yuri, which causes him to lose his fusions and weakens him; in addition, this reveals that Nicolas is a member of the sorcerous faction called Sapientes Gladio who wishes to rule the world through dark magic.

Karin and a weakened Yuri manage to escape with help from Domremy residents Blanca and Gepetto and make their way across Europe, gathering their strength and new allies as they chase after Nicolas and in turn are chased by other members of Sapientes Gladio. Eventually, the group learns how deep the influence of Sapientes Gladio really runs, and that Nicolas is far from the one in charge. The real leader of the sinister organization is Rasputin of Russia, which sends the group to Petrograd in an attempt to stop him and save the Russian royal family from his influence and nefarious plot. Along the way, Yuri also discovers the true origins of Sapientes Gladio, which, in turn helps him regain most of his power. Using Yuri's rediscovered abilities, Yuri and his group soundly defeats Rasputin. However, Nicolas, who was revealed to be Nicolai, a bastard son in line for the Russian throne who had hoped to use Rasputin's plot to gain rule over Russia, makes one last attempt to inflict evil on the world by opening a door sealed in the same tower the Holy Mistletoe was stored in, which contains malice. Although Nicolai is fused with the powerful demon Astaroth, he is physically defeated. Nevertheless, the door is opened and malice is released into the world. As Yuri and his group recover, Nicolai is taken by his ally, Japanese Envoy Kato, to Kato's homeland.

Due to malice being released, the war's brutality escalates. The group follows Kato and his agents to Japan in an attempt to find and destroy Nicolai, who still contains the demon Astaroth, once and for all. However, this leads the group to be in conflict against the Japanese government because Nicolai is under the custody of the Japanese government. With the Emigre Manuscript, Kato creates the Mutant Apes, powerful warriors who loyally follow his command. One of the Mutant Apes, Ouka, is created from DNA of his deceased lover, Yoshiko Kawashima, who died six months ago in the first Shadow Hearts. After Yuri's band stops the Japanese government from starting a war with Russia using the captured Nicolai and his powers, Nicolai himself escapes and intends to destroy the world. Yuri and Kato's groups both go after Nicolai, now completely corrupted by the demon Astaroth. Although Astaroth is eventually defeated by Yuri, Nicolai causes the death of the Mutant Ape Ouka before he is finally destroyed.

Kato is completely devastated by the second death of his love, and after he kills Nicolai, decides the world is full of too much evil and suffering and must be destroyed. Using the magic of Emigre Manuscript, he begins a ritual that will take the world to one hundred years ago and destroy the current world. Believing that the future they want is the one that they create for themselves, Yuri and his friends and allies come down to stopping Kato from carrying out his apocalyptic plans.

Like its predecessor, Covenant has two endings, depending on a choice made by the player earlier in the game. In the "bad" ending, Yuri's personality and memories are erased by the Mistletoe's curse, and he lives out the rest of his life in Wales under the care of Roger Bacon. In the "good" ending, Yuri is killed before succumbing to the curse. He retains his personality, and is escorted into the afterlife by his true love Alice. (It is also implied that Yuri may be projected back in time to the beginning of the first Shadow Hearts and given a chance to prevent Alice's death, but this is open to interpretation.) In both endings, Karin travels back in time to 1887 and meets Yuri's father Ben Hyuga. It is revealed that Anne, Yuri's mother, is actually Karin.

Characters

Playable characters

Yuri Hyuga

  • Age: 25
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Special Ability: Fusion
  • Weapon: Knuckle mounted Claws
  • Class: Darkness/Changeable
  • Special Accessory: Flare Brooch, halves SP consumption during fusion.

Returning from the first Shadow Hearts, Yuri settles in the town of Domremy after burying Alice Elliot. He uses his Fusion form to scare invading soldiers away from the village, but runs into problems when Nicolai Conrad from the Vatican strikes him with the Holy Mistletoe, cursing him and diminishing his powers. He now travels with the party, hoping to regain his abilities and fight off the new evils infecting the world. His aloof and rude traits have been somewhat tempered by the loss of Alice, but are still there in many situations. Yuri is one of the characters able to have five hit areas alongside with Joachim and Kurando. Yuri has the highest SP(Sanity point) in the party. His numerous transformations along with each of their unique stats and abilities make him incredibly balanced, allowing him to fulfill any position of the party (i.e.: physical fighter, magic-user, healer, etc.)

Karin Koenig

  • Age: 25
  • Nationality: German
  • Special Ability: Sword Arts
  • Weapon: Sabres
  • Class: Fire
  • Special Accessory: Anne's Cross, prevents Status/Ring abnormalities, restores HP.

An officer in the German army and descendant of a long line of Bavarian nobility, Karin first encounters Yuri at the church in Domremy, when he saves her from an errant grenade. After accompanying Nicolai to obtain the Mistletoe and watching the ensuing events, Karin joins Yuri's side. Fiercely independent and well-mannered, she harbors a crush and later deep love for him, and sticks by him in any situation. She uses swords, especially rapiers, in battle and obtains Sword Art power-up through the score of a Wagner opera. Karin doesn't really have a weakness nor strength. She is a balanced fighter between physical and magical, but is more toward the former.

Gepetto

  • Age: 60+
  • Nationality: French
  • Special Ability: Marionette
  • Weapon: Strings
  • Class: Changeable
  • Special Accessory: Silver Chair, allies protect Gepetto from incoming blows.

Once a renowned showman and puppeteer known throughout Europe, Gepetto retired to the quiet village of Domremy only to become mixed up in the affairs of Yuri and Nicolai. He offers good advice, but also has a bit of a lecherous side. He uses his beautiful puppet Cornelia (named for his late daughter) to fight and channel his magic-based Marionette skills. Gepetto has the highest magic stat in the party in exchange for a weak physical and special defense.

Blanca

  • Age: 2
  • Nationality: French
  • Special Ability: Manifestations
  • Weapon: Whetstones
  • Class: Wind
  • Special Accessory: Colorful Comb, agility up during crisis.

A white wolf, and unofficial guardian of Domremy, he joins Yuri after his young owner Jeanne is killed by Sapientes Gladio. Loyal and wise, Blanca encounters other wolves throughout the world which he can fight in Wolf Bouts to raise the power of his Manifestation skills. Blanca's balanced between physical and magical attributes (though more toward the latter) like Karin along with a high speed potential.

Joachim Valentine

  • Age: 400+
  • Nationality: Romanian (Transylvania)
  • Special Ability: Muscle Arts, Joachythms
  • Weapon: Anything he finds
  • Class: Earth
  • Special Accessory: Gold/Prism/Electro Band, makes it easier for Joachim to turn in to Golden Bat/Invisible/Grand Papillon

After briefly appearing in the original game taunting his brother Keith. In Covenant you find Joachim as the protector of the French village of Le Havre. Joachim is both a vampire and a trained wrestler who joins the party when he succeeds in defeating the mayor, who has been pestering Granny Lot for her store. He uses several forms to fight in battle, which change depending on his Joachythms. His regular form is most frequently seen; "Invisible" form lowers his chance of being targeted; "Golden Bat" form greatly raises his physical strength but eliminates his magic abilities, and his super hero form, "Grand Papillon" (which is French for "Butterfly"), is a powered-up version of his regular form. Joachim has the highest physical damage potential (even exceeding Yuri), but the trade-off is his slow speed, weak magic defense, and random transformations. And he is also able to equip five hit areas.

Lucia

  • Age: 28
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Special Ability: Tarot Cards, Aroma Therapy
  • Weapon: Fans
  • Class: Darkness
  • Special Accessory: Seven Stars, tarot results are always special.

A master fortune-teller as popular for her beauty as her abilities, Lucia is sent by her mistress, Carla, with the party to train her abilities. She is short-sighted, flighty, and tends to speak without thinking. Her Tarot Cards ability is risky, while her Aroma Therapy is an incredibly versatile supportive ability.

Princess Anastasia Romanov

  • Age: 14
  • Nationality: Russian
  • Special Ability: Snapshot, Albums
  • Weapon: Mechanical Eggs
  • Class: Water
  • Special Accessory: Panoramic Lens, allows Snapshot to hit all enemies at once.

The fourth daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Anastasia is outgoing, inquisitive and does whatever she wants (such as sneaking out from her castle in night and stealing snacks). However, Anastasia is the only one in her family who is suspicious of her father's adviser, Grigori Rasputin. When he frames Yuri and party for controlling Anastasia and forcing her to attempt murder on her little brother Alexei, she joins forces with Yuri to stop Rasputin. Anatasia can use her Snapshot ability to get information on enemies and in some cases learn the abilities of them. She also possesses a magical stat that can rival Gepetto.

Kurando Inugami

  • Age: 17
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Special Ability: Demon Morph
  • Weapon: Katana
  • Class: Light
  • Special Accessory: Flare Brooch, halves SP consumption during fusion.

The samurai bodyguard of the Kawashimas, Kurando, as suggested by his master, Naniwa Kawashima, decides to join with Yuri and party after rescuing Yoshiko, Naniwa's adopted daughter. It was told in the game that Kurando's mother, Saki is the sister of Yuri's father which makes Kurando and Yuri cousins. Kurando is the only other character in the party unable to use crest magic, however, like Yuri he is capable of fusing into demons. He has a maximum of 5 hit areas. His second form grants him a competitive strength and unrivaled speed that not even Yuri or Blanca can match.

Villains

  • Nicolas (Nicolai) Conrad: A member of the secret society Sapientes Gladio, Nicolas desires to take over the throne of Russia with the help of his mater, Rasputin. It is revealed at numerous points throughout the game that Nicolai harbors romantic feelings for Karin. Nicolai fuses himself with the fallen angel, Astaroth, eventually losing control and having his body taken over by the demon. Nicolai is killed by Kato after murdering Kato's love interest, Ouka.
    • Nicolai Conrad is a playable character early on in the game.
  • Lenny Curtis: A high-ranking member of Sapientes Gladio under Nicolai, Lenny is strong and stubborn, but also somewhat slow and, as later revealed, soft-hearted. He causes many problems for the party early in the game, but seems to repent after the problems in Russia are settled. He appears in Shadow Hearts: From the New World as Johnny's butler.
    • Lenny Curtis is a playable character in the Director's Cut.
  • Grigori Rasputin: The leader of Sapientes Gladio, Rasputin wishes to use the influence he has gained in Russia to eventually take over the world. He has made a pact with the demon Asmodeus to achieve these ends. After his plan to usurp the throne of Russia is foiled, he allows Asmodeus to take over his body and mind and tries to destroy the world. Rasputin is ultimately defeated by Yuri and dies, but not before informing Yuri of the true power of the Mistletoe's curse and Nicolai's plan to release Malice.

  • Special Agent Masaji Kato: An officer in the Japanese army, Kato seems to have been promoted following the death of his superior officer, Yoshiko Kawashima, in Shadow Hearts. He seeks to form an alliance that will allow Russia and Japan to become allies and win the war against China. He negotiates with Sapientes Gladio and receives the Emigre Manuscript in exchange for Japan's promise of support. With the help of the Japanese government and the Emigre Manuscript, he creates three special agents, the Mutant Apes, to assist him in his endeavours. After Ouka, one of the Mutant Apes, is killed by Nicholai, Kato decides to reverse time to one hundred years ago and create a whole new world, destroying the current one. To do so, he uses the Emigre Manuscript to summon the power of ancient Japanese gods and later turns into Susanoo, the final boss in the game, to battle Yuri. Yuri defeats Kato to stop his apocalyptic plans.
  • Raiden: "Hear no evil" of the Mutant Apes. In life, he was a soldier in the Japanese army killed in the war with China. Given a second chance by Kato by becoming the first Mutant Ape, Raiden's size gives him great strength, and the battery on his back enables him to fight with powerful electrical charges.
  • Hien: "Speak no evil" of the Mutant Apes, and second to be created, Hien has amazing agility and cunning; combined with the special blades wielded to his arms, he is a formidable opponent. Like Raiden, Hien is a deceased soldier.
  • Ouka: "See no evil" of the Mutant Apes, the most refined and advanced, and the most human, lacking the machinery of her older counterparts, Ouka is nonetheless as fierce and dangerous of a warrior as Raiden and Hien. Unlike Hien and Raiden, Ouka is a clone, and has no memories of the past. She is cloned from Kato's deceased love, Yoshiko Kawashima.
    • Ouka, Hien, and Raiden are initially playable characters and become enemies later in the game.

Other characters

  • Jeanne: The owner of Blanca and friend of Yuri, Jeanne is murdered by Sapientes Gladio after witnessing Yuri being cursed with the Mistletoe. Her spirit takes up residence in Yuri's subconscious, where she attempts to guide him to happiness and fulfillment.
  • Pierre Magimel: A tailor, Pierre custom makes special costumes for Gepetto's puppet, Cornelia. However, he only takes a collectible called a Stud Card in payment, which usually feature muscular, near naked man holding strategically placed props.
  • Gerard Magimel: Pierre's brother, Gerard runs a traveling item shop from his truck. Eager to make a sale, the two seem to have the ability to travel literally anywhere, and appear in the most unlikely and secretive of places.
  • The Great Gama: Joachim's teacher, Gama is a renowned wrestler and the world champion. He can be found in Southampton and the Imperial Capital, ready to teach Joachim his skills. He is the last thing standing between Joachim and the vampire's ultimate power, courtesy of a little event known as the Man Festival.
  • Carla: The mistress of Lucia, Carla is an accomplished fortune-teller herself. In her younger, more beautiful days she was once a member of Sapientes Gladio, but she fled when she realized just how violent the group was. She offers assistance, information, and healing to the party.
  • Roger Bacon: A famous magician who is over seven-hundred years old. Once again, Roger is drawn into Yuri's affairs when he is kidnapped by Lenny. After he is freed, he provides information and transportation to the party, the latter in the form of the Bacon Jet.
  • Edgar: A clockmaker in Petrograd. He is like an uncle to Anastasia. Edgar gives Anastasia the camera that helps her acquire extra abilities, as well as the egg she uses in battle. He also assists the party in the latter half of the story.
  • Jovis Abraham: A former archbishop of the Eastern Orthodox church and the founder of the true Sapientes Gladio, Jovis split with it when Rasputin corrupted its purpose, fleeing into seclusion. Now living in Goreme Valley, he agrees to help the party to put a stop to Rasputin's evil plans.
  • Albert Simon: The late Simon, residing as a spirit in Yuri's soul, reveals that the events of the last game were a misguided attempt to stop Sapientes Gladio and Rasputin. Simon helps Yuri make a pact with the demon Amon.
  • Yoshiko Kawashima: The adopted daughter of Naniwa Kawashima and named for her older "sister", Yoshiko is actually a Chinese princess spirited into hiding. Yoshiko inadvertently causes trouble for the party when she is kidnapped from under Kurando's nose shortly after they arrive in Japan. She develops a certain affection for Blanca. She has the same name as Special Agent Kato's former love, who was killed in Japan during the the previous game.
  • Saki Inugami: Mother of Kurando and aunt to Yuri, Saki leads the Inugami clan and assists the party with her powers of divination and sound advice. Like Kurando and Yuri, Saki has the power to fuse.
  • Alice Elliot: Yuri's lover, and Gepetto's late wife's niece, from the original Shadow Hearts. She died of the Four-Mask curse, six months before the events of Domremy. Like Albert Simon, Alice's spirit now lives within Yuri's soul. She was brought back to life temporarily by the powers of the Emigré Manuscript, which Yuri used with the help of Roger Bacon.

Development

The game as a whole was revamped from Shadow Hearts, including the graphics, cutscenes, voices, the way the Judgment Ring worked, and the cast of characters. Game critics have also smiled upon Shadow Hearts: Covenant much more than the original, and a general consensus seems to be that the game is an overall improvement on the first.

An interesting bit of trivia, is that, when this game was in its early stages of development, Aruze "leaked" that the story revolved around only Nicolai, Karin and other yet-to-be-named allies. Yuri was unmentioned and Shadow Hearts 2 was believed to be absent and this game a separate story. However, once the game was released, many players and fans were delighted and surprised to see that Yuri had made his return as the main focus of this game.

Director's Cut

After the release of the original game, a director's cut version was released in Japan, and never saw US shores. This Director's Cut included:

  • The Sea of Woods optional dungeon
  • The Nahasu Temple Dungeon (played after the Neam Ruins)
  • Veronica Vera and Rene (Lenny) Curtis as playable characters
  • Extra scenes between Veronica and Lucia in Goreme Valley, the Curry men at the Yokohama Warehouses, and Lucia and Anastasia in Florence
  • Panda/Kappa weapon for Yuri
  • New "Beautiful Fool" dress for Cornelia
  • "The Oath" scene between Yuri and Alice is prerendered
  • Trailer for Shadow Hearts: From the New World

Changes also include some new music tracks, a slightly bigger Judgment Ring, and support for the PlayStation 2 HDD.

Audio

Voice acting

Japanese

The seiyu for the Japanese version of the game are as follows:

English

The voice actors in the English version of the game are as follows:

Soundtrack

Yoshitaka Hirota and Yasunori Mitsuda returned to compose the music for Shadow Hearts II but this time they were joined by Kenji Ito. The three of them collabarated together for the joint composition of the Final Boss Battle Theme The 3 Karma ~ Decisive Battle.

The OST (Original Soundtrack) of Shadow Hearts II was released as two Compact Discs under the name of Shadow Hearts II Original Soundtracks by Team Entertainment in Japan on March 24, 2004.

The ending theme, titled GETSURENKA ~ Ending sung by Mio Isayama, was composed by Yoshitaka Hirota and the lyrics were written by Kumiko Hasegawa.

The music tracks exclusive to the Director's Cut version of the game were later released in Japan on the Shadow Hearts Special Sound CD which was included as part of the Shadow Hearts: From the New World Premium Box.

Reception

It was named IGN's RPG Vault PS2 Game of the Year for 2004 It has received critical acclaim for having an innovative combat system, high-quality graphics and soundtrack, powerful storyline, and unique characters and atmosphere.

References

External links

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