Just recently I got a chance to check out the final version of Shadow Hearts: From the New World. If you haven’t been following the series, don’t worry. Shadow Hearts: From the New World has an all new protagonist, Johnny Garland and separate story from the other Shadow Hearts games. The story begins in 1920’s New York City. Detective Johnny Garland just got his first case and he’s in for a surprise.
He’s supposed to track down a bail runner, but instead he runs into a monster. Then a white bird comes down from the sky and saves him. As our import coverage points out Shadow Hearts: From the New World is not a dragon slaying coming of age RPG. When your party consists of a ninja that wields a cactus, a traveling musician and a cat who’s a drunken boxing expert you have to expect something different. You’ll also be visiting “real world” locations and running into historical characters like Al Capone. The ties in US history and pop culture make Shadow Hearts: From the New World interesting to play.
Fans of the series will be happy to know that the Judgment ring system returns with a few new elements. The judgment ring governs every action in battle. When you choose fight, stellar (Shadow Hearts equivalent of spells) or item a ring pops up with a spinning cursor. To successful land a strike or heal yourself you need to time your button presses and hit the cursor inside colored strike zones. You start out with a simple one ring for one attack, but you can later customize your ring to add in multiple hits or expand strike zones. You can also do combo attacks with your entire team or pull off two moves in a row similar to the Xenosaga double system. To keep players on their toes you’ll have to manage sanity points. Each time you take an action in combat SP are used up, if you run out of SP your character loses sanity. They’ll go berserk and start attacking their own teammates. The sanity point system forces players to choose their actions wisely and end battles quickly.
Instead of Midway, XSeed games took on the task of localizing the title for the USA. They’ve managed to keep all of the game’s humor intact. You’ll meet up with effeminate merchants and explore the mystery of “aliens” that landed in Roswell. The voice acting is fairly good too. Johnny has a youthful and cheerful voice while Natan has a serious tone. Kudos to the voice actor who played Frank, the aging ninja, the strange voice fits Frank’s offbeat personality.
For more coverage check out our import playtest of Shadow Hearts: From the New World.