Shadow Hearts: FTNW was a step down from Covenent, but still an ok RPG.
zh666 wrote this review on .
The battle system is still pretty good, but I really hated the storyline and basically all the playable characters. That is probably what hurt the most. I honestly didn't care about any of them. They're pretty boring and just forgettable, especially Johnny.
The graphics seemed unpolished. The production values seem like a huge step down from Covenant.
I liked the new setting of the game, but I just hated how it was paced. I LOVE the idea of an RPG in modernish times America, but that's only the first half of the game. The rest of the game is spent in South America. The biggest problem was the pacing. It was just so random, like a Kingdom Hearts game. You just jump from town to town, meeting new weird people. Every place is extremely different. It doesn't feel like a real adventure, it just feels like a bunch of random places slapped together.
Overall, it's not the worst RPG ever made. It's not even a bad game. I was just disappointed with it, and lost my patience with it multiple times.
Shadow Hearts: From the New World is a turn-based RPG. The turns are dictated by the enemy or character with the highest speed. Some characters can attack multiple times in a row, if their speed is extremely high. You can take 4 characters in battle with you, while the rest (3 extras) wait on the side lines.
The battles are completely random encounters. You gain experience, money, souls and loot after each attack.
The characters that fought get the most experience, while the extra characters get less. I mostly used the same 4-5 characters during the game, so the characters I didn't use ended up having about 8 or so less levels than my main characters.
Each character has a unique skill system, and the use unique weapons. To gain new skills with these characters, you must do sidequests. Some you'll find on your main quest, others you'll have to backtrack for.
Each character, besides Shania, can equip a Star grid. These grids allow you to use magic. You find magic spells in dungeons (you can't buy them), then you equip them to your grid (it's similar to Final Fantasy X's sphere grid). Each nod on the grid can house 3 different kinds of spells, a healing spell, attack spell and status spell. If you want to equip stronger spells, if you want to strengthen existing spells or changing the nods within the grid sphere, you an go to a shop and buy upgrades to your grid. The shop in this game is the "Just 2 Guys" shop. This is very similar to the shop you find in Shadow Hearts: Covenant that make doll dresses for you. So yeah, these guys are flamboyant bikers, instead of dress makers this time.
The battle system is hardly untouched from Shadow Hearts: Covenent. Each character uses the Ring system, this means, to attack there will be 2 or more notches on a ring. When the dial starts to move across the ring, you have to stop it on the notches to create combo attacks.
The biggest change are the Stock meters. When you build up enough stock (from attack), you gain a Stock point. When you have a Stock point, you can choose to use special combo attacks. There are three in all. You can choose to "Combo", and this means your characters will attack one after another, in one single round. There's also the "Double" attack, this means you can pick 2 moves for 1 character in one round. Then there's the "Combo/Double" and it's a combination of both. This adds a bit to strategy, because enemies can use Stock attacks too.
The puzzles in the dungeons are really weak. They're all lever puzzles, and usually the lever in front of you is the one you need to pull each time. I was never stuck in a dungeon or confused by a puzzle. However, dungeon crawling was one of the best things in this game has to offer. Mostly because it isn't difficult, and I enjoyed the battle system as a whole.
----------Characters / Story----------
You play as Johnny Garland. You're a 16 year old orphan with a amnesia.. blah. Johnny's dad and sister died when he was younger and got their estate, so he's now living off of a trust fund. This trust fund baby decided to open up a Detective Agency. His only clients so far were small children wanting him to track down missing pets. Then one day a strange man gave Johnny a task to track down a man that owned a debt. Johnny finds the man, but as he encounters him, the man turns into a monster. This is when Shania, a Native American, shows up to save Johnny.
Shania is a fusionist, just like Yuri from the first two Shadow Hearts. Shania discovers that Johnny has special powers and she is on a quest to find out more about her Fusion powers and Johnny's connection to them.
My main beef with the storyline is Johnny himself. For one, he's a typical JRPG stereotype, which is ok, but not for a Shadow Hearts game. He's a young kid with amnesia? come on. Secondly, they basically forget about his backstory until the end of the game. This game reminds me more of Kingdom Hearts than Shadow Hearts. Johnny just goes to random locations, meeting random people, that have little to nothing to do with the major plot points set at the beginning of the game.
There are only 2 things about this game that really connect to the previous Shadow Hearts games. For one, Roger Bacon is back. He has a couple major plot points in the game, but he's really only in 2 scenes in the game. Then there's Lenny, who is Johnny's assistant. He was a badguy lackeys in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. That's really about it.
The graphics was a big disappointment for me. In the first Shadow Hearts, they used pre-rendered backgrounds, which looked really good in my opinion. It also had prerendered CGI cutscenes, like you would get from a PS1 Final Fantasy game, maybe less detailed. Shadow Hearts Covenant upped the graphics in a huge way. The character models were so much more detailed, the dungeons were awesome looking 3D (although with a fixed camera) and the CGI cutscenes looked amazing.
Shadow Hearts: FTNW however, went the Covenant approach, but everything seemed dumbed down or not as polished. The character models seem more janky. The dungeons felt short and unfinished. There was only a couple CGI cutscenes and they were not impressive by any means. The enemies seem less unique or clever.
Overall, the graphics just seemed like an unpolished mess.
The music was very good. It's alot of slow gothic piano or violin work, with the occasional JRPG music for the battle system or dungeons.
The voice work was ok I guess. There was nothing offensively bad about it, but they only used voice acting during the main parts of the storylines.
The world map is basically the same as the one in Shadow Hearts Covenant. The game flows fairly linearly and somewhat predictably, but you're rarely trapped within a dungeon. Even when you are trapped, it's just during a short storyline mission. Because you could run out of any dungeon, I never felt real pressure or stress within them.
As I said, the game flows very predictably. You start off in a town, go to a dungeon, go to a town to restock, go to a dungeon, fight a boss and repeat. I was never surprised by a boss fight, I was never not prepared for a dungeon. This game felt very "safe" compared to the previous Shadow Hearts titles in that sense.
----------Time to Complete Game---------
After you beat the game, you unlock a New Game+ mode.