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Game Reviews: Shadow Hearts Covenant

September 19, 2011

I play alot of games and very few are jRPG’s. For reference iv never played Final Fantasy’s 1-10 or 11-13 i have only played 10-2 which was a travesty. I briefly tried Tales of Vesperia (although admitedly i would like to give that game a go again if i can find a copy) and have played and subsequently disliked Lost Odyssey (I found the Odyssey, it was in the couch the whole time.) but no jRPG or even western rpg OR EVEN SHOOTER has stolen my heart as completely as this game has.

This game could kick me in the balls but it would be such a well executed, beautiful, well characterized kick that i would ask it for some more. I am not a forgiving reviewer either, i didnt even bother playing through more than the first brief chapter of Alone in the Dark (i will give you a short review of the 20 minutes i spent playing the game later on) and will brutally attack other games especially games that are part of a series.

If you were to ask me to review Halo Reach i would compare it to other games from the franchise, much the same way i did with GTA 4 but this game i havent played the rest of the franchise so as a result ill just compare it to other jRPG’s that ive played.

First off theres no androgyne’s at all if you cant tell who’s what gender then you must need your bloody eyes checked, actually perhaps not because your probably BLIND. All the men look like men, although one of them does look like he belongs in the WWE and not in the middle of a jRPG, and all the women look like women, or at least women who have bowling balls for breast implants.

The voice acting is all on par with that of an animated movie and not one of those crappy pixar things either i mean an old fashioned disney movie like Lion King or Little Mermaid, all the characters are able to emote properly and for the none talking scenes the developers use the stereotypical japanese anime expressions consisting of, the squiggly line for exasperation, the oversized water drop, as well as ;_; and various other typed out emoticons.

Theres no angst.

I decided to give you a little time to process that statement although it is a little incorrect given that there is SOME angst but its appropriate angst. The day someone tells me “yes your going to innevitably die and you have to spend the rest of your life going across europe and japan constantly fighting people before you die but your not allowed to be depressed especially when someone uses the curse that will kill you to there advantage and hurt you” is going to be the day the murders start.

So technically theres angst but its usually in place such as when the big evil guy who is possessed by one of the princes of hell trys to destroy Russia and bring down the royal Tsar and his family naturally the princess and daughter of the Tsar is worried and angsty because hey, HER FUCKING LIFE COULD BE RUINED. Another source of angst is the previously mentioned curse, technically it wont kill him if he lets it run its course itll just destroy his VERY FUCKING SOUL, and there is no way to get through it alive because the only things to do are die and let the curse run its course and both of which are very counter-productive.

There is a bit of the “oh man the love of my life died” angst but thats only in the moments when it becomes a major part of the story like when you go hunting for an object that will apparently aid in bringing her back but after it fails he just sits on a ridge and thinks for a while then goes on with his life. THATS THE WAY YOU DO IT, you mourn a bit and grieve THEN YOU KICK SOME SERIOUS ASS, you dont sit around and bitch about it every five goddamn minutes FINAL FANTASY.

The story is nice and tight and provides plenty of twists that you dont really expect to see such as the guy you thought was an ok dude turns out to be trying to remake the world so the love of his life will still be alive because he doesnt seem to realise that this isnt a Final Fantasy game. Theres humour, hell theres one character that aquires a good chunk of his weapons through humorous scenes where he sees what he wants, lets say for example a mailbox, gets told by one of the other characters that he cant take it, promptly ignores them and picks it up and then talks about the feelings hes getting from the object then turns and walk a way as the other character in the scene stands there with an exasperated attitude.

The story has a dual ending situation and surprisingly its not a “well you did this before this so you get bad ending” its actually all based on a single conversation with this little girl whos trying to find a way to get rid of the curse thats killing you, and while that is an unfair and unpredictable spot at least its not a “YOU DID SOMETHING THAT WAS COMPLETELY NATURAL TO YOUR GAMING STYLE SUCK ON BAD ENDING” its more of a philosophical choice and even then the only endings are either let the curse run its course or willingly die and go back to the start of the first game.

The fighting system is simple, basically it gives you a moving arrow that you have to land within a coloured part of a circle, theres a tiny area on the far edge of it (and i mean farthest from where you started) that will give you a small boost to your attack. Theres a defined combat order and no “IM GONNA STAND HERE AND GATHER MY FOCUS BEFORE I STAB THE ENEMY”

As i said at the start of the review, or at least somewhere in that area 700 words ago, this is the only jRPG that iv played to this extent and the only one that i actually have 4 going onto 5 playthroughs and if you assume each one coming to around a weeks worth of gaming to complete that means iv put around 4 weeks worth of work into the game and thats not including all the side quests which would probably add another week to it.

If you can hunt down a copy of this game YOU HAVE TO BUY IT.

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