Games: Playing “Shadow Hearts: Covenant” (PS2)

17 Apr

I’m really into Shadow Hearts: Covenant (PS2).

Got some free time during the day? I’m playing. My evenings? I’m playing. The week end? I played.

What makes me stop playing? Getting tired and making mistakes because of it. You see, there is this thing called “Judgement Ring” which is used for nearly every action in the game, most important are shopping and battles. Here’s what it looks like:

You have to hit the coloured areas – hit areas – with a rotating indicator to succeed with the action. In the picture above, hitting each of the five hit areas means the character will attack five times. Hitting an orange-coloured area results in a good attack, hitting a red-coloured area results in a strike (more powerful than a good attack), and hitting all five red-coloured hit areas means a perfect attack. Failing to hit a hit area (for example, the third) stops the judgement ring and the character attacks only as many times as he managed to hit the coloured areas successfully (that is, two times). There are different settings for the judgement ring which influence this: for example, if you set the judgement ring of a character to “practice ring” it won’t matter if you miss one hit area, you still get the chance to hit the others. In the case above, you could still attack four times, then. The attacks itself would be weaker though because you used a practice ring. also, each character has a different distribution of hit areas on the judgement ring and the judgement rings for the use of items or magic differ from the judgement rings for physical attacks.

So, timing is very important and being tired screws with that. Which means, that sometimes you have to call it a night at 3 a.m.

But despite my lengthy description (and believe me, there is still more to say about it), it’s not the judgement ring system that keeps me playing. It’s the story and the way it is told. It’s what I’d been looking for in Dragon Quest: The Journey of the Cursed King and didn’t find and what keeps me playing games: a good story. Granted, you can’t compare stories in games with stories in novels most of the time but when I consider everything for both it’s the story that pulls me through, even when other things are lacking.

In Shadow Hearts: Covenant I have a lot of fun with story and gameplay (the ring thing).

And it sure doesn’t hurt that in the story there’s a small hope for a romance as well.

Now excuse me, I’m off to play.

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