Shadow Hearts: Covenant
The first thing that crossed my mind when I pulled this game out of its envelope was: “Oops, he did it again to my heart and made me get lost in an RPG, oh baby!”. I just cured from Mega Man X Command Mission and now the next RPG is already waiting for, a not so eager, me. Luckily, I have had some medication (Painkiller Black Edition, DK King of Swing) which helps me cope with everything. In fact, these alternative forms of drugs made me hope that this game would really be able to please me so it would not be a task to play it. Do notice that although games can be very addictive, you will always feel more satisfied after you have played them which makes them better than drugs, like cocaine, as those make you feel less happy after its effects work out. There is no use in denying as it is scientifically proven that it diminishes the level of dopamine in your body so you have to get a rebound. (There are other products, L-DOPA, which can be converted to dopamine in the brain. They are especially useful to people with the Parkinson’s disease as they have almost no dopamine in the substantia nigra, a part of the brain, left. This information completely aside of course.) Now, the second part of Shadow Hearts just stays a video game so it must be impossible to have such an impact on a human or must it not?
Well, in the beginning I certainly thought that it would be rather impossible to have any impact at all as the graphical world could not please me at all: a lot of dark environments, zombies and combinations which are idiotic but taken very seriously by the characters in the game itself. Technically graphically I do not consider it very spectacular either because I have seen the ps2 do more with data that fitted on one disc. Do not get me wrong, we are miles away from the pixel porridge producing factory but the lack of palm trees, sunny beaches and girls in tiny bikinis made me long for the summer even more. In the end, to see dark, gray and cold worlds I do not need a sixty dollar game, I just look outside my window.
The story was not immediately grasping either. Because it begins two years after the first one started, I had the feeling I was missing something although I had read the convenient summary in the booklet. However, all this won’t disturb you for very long as the storyline is very intrigueing, well built and deeply elaborated so true fans of the RPG-genre will be extremely content as they will be absorbed into the whole atmosphere, that is after a few hours. Briefly said the story comes down to you being a superhero having lost his special powers because of a secret and up-to-no-good society and you and your friends set out to solve the mystery and retrieve your special gifts. To do so, you will depart on a journey which leads you through a whole lot of villages and locations, primarily based on European and later on Oriental landscapes.
Of great importance in an RPG is obviously the fighting system and there too SH:C knows how to ideally mix the various elements perfectly so you can have fun with the ingenious set-up. The turn-based approach works mighty fine because it is not only a matter of tactically thinking as your reaction skills are tested by a mini-game too. To make your character execute a perfect attack, you will have to push a button each time a line, which moves around on a circle, reaches the indicated zone. That is good old nerve-wrecking fun and really contributes to you feeling involved. Besides that, there are the quite challenging puzzles which need to be solved and whenever you feel that it is enough of either one of these, you will be pleasantly surprised with dialogs revealing parts of the amazingly twisting story. Quite a revelation to someone like me, who is used to playing games in which the story is limited to some CGI-scenes between levels. So, all the various elements are implemented really well and in addition they are combined in such away that the game never becomes boring.
You can write and read pages and pages about this game but unfortunately I do not have the time to write those as this title just consumes every tiny bit of spare time that I have left. So, the price/quantity ratio is extremely good because you can easily play days or even weeks with this game and even if you do not go for al the side-missions, you will still need over forty hours to finish it. It won’t bore you and the addictive factor is huge which causes the need for your mind and body to really adapt to the working atmosphere without a weekend of any “reel” social contact. Mostly the Monday and Tuesday are necessary to adapt to live in this stinking, filty world in which you are forced to spent time again and by the time Wednesday ends you will already be looking forward to what is going to happen when you are morphed into the parallel universe again after you have done your time Thursday and Friday.
I really hope that I have convinced all you RPG lovers to check this title out as it can get you where no expensive drugs will ever can and although the physical symptoms might be alike, it is still more socially excepted to play a video game than to take drugs and you do not have to break the law for it. If you want to know how good every particular peace of gameplay or voice-acting is, I suggest you read another review but do notice that you are a person* matching the description at the bottom of this text. You could compare it to French fries from Mc Cain too: those who talk the most of them, eat them the least and that just is plain dumb as those fries are way too delicious. With this metaphor I end my story as I suddenly feel very hungry.
* Someone who has plenty of money walks into a store and wants to buy himself a machine which is well-known and of which he has read hundreds of positive reviews and talked to plenty of satisfied owners about, … The vendor has given him a really low price, explained every little detail and the buyer has wanted this machine for all his life. Short: everything is perfect but such a person then says: “Hmm, yes I would still like to think about it.” of “Are the batteries for the remote included?” after which he leaves the store to come back the following four weekends so he can have another look.