The Let's Play Archive

Shadow Hearts

by The Dark Id

Part 3: Episode III: Stat Chat 1913

Episode III: Stat Chat 1913

New Music: Blow Up

Welcome to the World Map. Or... at least the Asia Map. Unlike Koudelka and its confinement to a single location in the hellish wastes of the Welsh countryside, Shadow Hearts is a bit of a globetrotting adventure. Most chapters will move onto a new location with very little backtracking. Though usually from here on out we can return to previous locations up to a point. There’s no returning to the Trans-Siberian Express and I’m not even sure why Changchun is listed as a location.

For now our only option is to head to where Rude Hero and the unconscious magic girl ended up after jumping off the train – The Plains.

Music: ENDS. Sounds of a stream in the distance.

We return to find our duo still hanging out next to the train tracks in the middle of nowhere in the Manchurian countryside. Rude Hero seems to have gotten sick of carrying around Whatsherface and dropped her like a sack of potatoes until she decides to finally wake up. Like right about now...

The girl regains consciousness and stands up.

If you’re looking for the train, it’s long gone.
<looks around confused>
Took care of Grandpa Top Hat, too. Heh. Geezer is gonna be feeling that one in the morning.
Heh heh... pretty exciting, huh? You getting a tingly feeling? Right about here? <points to her skirt>
<runs back>

Stay away?! I haven’t even done anything yet.
...OK. That sounds kinda bad phrasing it like that.

<shakes head> Stay... stay back, please... I... I can’t. No… I… I can’t do anything, I….

The girl bolts off-screen.

Uh… Where do you think you’re going? I’m telling you, it’s not safe that way. <shakes head> Aw, give me a break… Hey, girlie! Don’t run off like that!
It looks like you’re already winded and you’ve ran like twenty yards! You’re clearly not a track runner. Can we just save both of us some time and—

Screeching unearthly sound and flash of light.

This line is actually voice acted. It’s very faint, whispery female voice. I mentioned there might be a couple things that are a step down from Koudelka. Cutscenes are definitely one of ‘em. About 98% of the dialogue is text only and motion captured performances have been ditched in favor of more common limited canned animations. That prologue bit was about 10% of the voice acted scenes in the game.

New Music: Sphere -qu-
(This is also the title screen music.)

Okay, I got it… I’m supposed to protect her, right…?
Fine, FINE! I’ll go get her before she gets eaten by a wolf or something. Sheesh!

The Rude Hero runs in the direction of the Girl in Danger.

That’s probably not a good sign. It’d stand to reason the girl would follow the path and not just run headlong into a stream. So naturally...

We’re going to bolt off course down a secret path to loot a hidden treasure chest in the opposite direction of the screaming. The chest here contains a Leather Belt. I’m sure the Girl in Danger won’t mind if we stop a few minutes and take the time to look over our inventory and check out a few mechanics. She probably just got spooked by a bird or something. She seemed the easily startled type.

We’ll get a name for this dingus by the end of this update, I promise. But for now, let’s take a look at Rude Hero’s Status. He’s only Level 3 and he can already punch holes in wizards’ skulls, crush the heads of enemy Stands easily and occasionally reattach severed limbs. Not bad.

Hit Points and Magic Points should be self-explanatory if you’ve ever played a video game in your life. Sanity Points maybe not so much... But we’ll hold off on getting into that mechanic at just the moment.

Ability Stats come in a far more reasonable flavor than Koudelka’s fucking clownshoes take on RPG stats. Even if going on about people’s PIE stat was amusing, I’m definitely not going to miss that dumbass stat existing.
All pretty standard JRPG business this time around, really. Other than the Sanity Stat. But again... we’ll get to that another time.

All stats increase from leveling up our character and also what equipment they are currently wearing. Every party member can equip one weapon, one armor and three accessories. We can also see clear stats on the hit change percentages here. Some equipment might have big trade-offs of say much higher damage but crappy accuracy or the like.

Weapon Durability and all the RNG only drops for armor sets shit from Koudelka has been tossed in the trash alongside the battle system. But what did stick around is unique art and item description blurbs for every single item and piece of equipment. Let’s take a closer look...

By default, Rude Hero comes equipped with Leather Gloves. Ignore the fact they’re brown here when they’re clearly cartoon character big white gloves on his model. There’s no Weapon Proficiency business in Shadow Hearts either. Everyone knows how to use exactly one type of weapon. Our boy here will always be slipping variations of gloves on his mitts to punch folks.

Rude Hero also comes sporting a rugged, manly cotton shirt that doesn’t look remotely like the one he’s wearing in-game. Armor in Shadow Hearts is a bit different. For the most part, all armor is gendered. Only male characters can wear a Cotton Shirt. That’s just the way of the world in 1913. Rude Hero won’t be donning a Wedding Dress for its above average stats anytime soon. There is also some character specific armors in the game too but that is way far down the road as well.

We just picked up a Leather Belt which we’ll go ahead and equip on the Rude Hero for a +2 to Attack Power. It’s worth noting that unlike armor and weapons, Accessories are unisex and not limited to any one character. Accessories are actually pretty important for many fights in this game once ones that block certain ill effects of enemy attacks start cropping up. But that too is for another day.

Even though we’ve only just begun our adventure, Rude Hero has a pretty decent knapsack full of junk already. We’ll quickly thumb through our stock of trinkets before going and checking on whatever happened to Miss Damselindistress.

The item descriptions in Shadow Hearts are fun because they all sound like they’re written by some shady open air market merchant trying to upsell the rarity and quality of their fake manufactured crap to some gullible tourist. This is the most common healing item in the game. It restores 75 HP. You can buy it in literally every shop in the game for like 50 bucks.

Yes, this mystical leaf grows in secret places such as every crappy shop from Imperial Japan to the Hellsmouth of Wales for slightly more cost than the HP equivalent. This restores 50 MP on use.

This will get you fucking LIT. You will be tripping balls for days on end. Or it’ll restore 3 Sanity Points. Same difference, honestly. You might be noticing the Judgment Rings appearing alongside the item graphics here. That’s because using items also requires a timed button press as well. It’s extremely generous most every time. But some items do offer a Strike Area to increase the potency of the item if you’re feeling saucy.

The Phoenix Down equivalent. Will revive downed party members and restore 30% of their HP. I suppose a mystical talisman you can stuff in your pocket for emergencies is a touch more efficient than an entire bottle of whiskey. Not nearly as fun, though...

Crush this up gem up and snort it to cure Poisoning. Another thing gone from Koudelka – inventory management and item restrictions! We can hold as many types of items we want and up to 99 of ‘em before the game gets mad at us. Thank goodness.

Finally, there’s Tents which work like Tents in many other RPGs -- a full restore of HP/MP if used on the World Map or at any Save Point. Should probably find what the heck a save point looks like in this game first, huh?

Before we finish up, there is one more item left. Though it’s listed separately from our inventory items in its own Key Items Valuables slot. There’s a bunch of Proper Nouns attached to this thing we don’t know yet. We’ll just remember it’s there for now. It might become relevant in the near future.

Finally, before we get back on course. Shadow Hearts is the exact opposite of Koudelka in regards to documentation of mechanics. There’s an entire robust Help/FAQ section in the menu that can be accessed at any time and offers detailed explanations for any and all mechanics. It will regularly update as the game continues and helpfully marks new entries as they crop up. Definitely a marked improvement over its predecessor’s method of telling the player absolutely nothing and offering zero tutorials. Good on ya, Sacnoth.

Now then, what were we doing? Oh right... We’re supposed to look after that girl because a loud voice in our protagonist’s head is yelling at them to do so for some reason. We’d better get on that. Especially since it looks like the girl is taking another dirt nap further up the road.

Were you attacked or something? I TOLD you it was dangerous, didn’t I…
<looks around> There’s not even anything around here. Did you trip over your own two feet running? Do you got narcolepsy, lady? Is that it?
Looks like I’m the one who’s getting all tingly inside. Maybe I should make a move. He he...

<bends down> I wonder if she’d mind if I...
Nah... She looks like the uptight type and I don’t need that stupid voice yelling at me again.

Hey! Girl! Don’t just lie there like a dead fish! Get up!

The girl wakes up again and immediately jumps back from the Rude Hero.

<gestures at girl> Then you faint? You got no manners, y’know that?
And people call me rude... What’s the world comin’ to?
A... A monster just suddenly...
<nods> Yeah. There’s lots of hungry wolves and bloodsuckin’ bats around here.
Take a few steps around these parts and they’ll just randomly come out to battle you. It’s a real pain in the ass.
You’re probably attracting them. You smell pretty good, y’know.
<looks around> ...
Don’t worry, my manly musk scared ‘em off. For now... Probably...
Anyway, don’t run off like that, okay? Cause if I don’t do like the voice says, my head’s going to split open!
...Don’t “huh?” me. Someone, or something, is pretty damn insistent that I protect you.
Protect… me?

The Rude Hero paces a bit.

“Punch that guy!” which... is usual fine. I’ve got no problem with punching guys. But once it told me to kick this black cat. Something about it carrying a pendant. That wasn't cool. It did have some weird pendant but, you know... I still had to kick a cat.
A... voice in your head... tells you to do these things...?

Stupid voice jumps into my head all the time. And now it’s orderin’ me to protect you. Anyway, at least I’m never bored. Wherever it tells me to go, there are always plenty of monsters.
Usually not wizards, though... That was a new one...
So that’s why you were on the train?
<nods> Yup. But thanks to that voice, I'm changing from your ordinary bad-boy type into a real psycho.
<shrug> I mean I know I sound like a crazy person saying a voice in my head told me to hop on a train through China to save you. But ehh... after a while you just kind of roll with it, ya know?

Hey, are you psycho, too? Do you see weird things?
<nods> ...Maybe.
Oh I... was just kinda trying to change the subject... People don’t usually say yes to that kinda thing... That’s a little weird.
Well you don’t seem quite like me, but… whatever. We can’t just chat all day. First, we’ve got to find a place to rest. And I’m getting’ hungry. <starts walking off>

My name’s...

We can finally stop calling this idiot “Rude Hero.” Our protagonist’s actual name is Yuri Volte Hyuga. Fun fact: His Japanese name is Urmanov and he’s called "Ur/Ura" for short. Which... Yeah, I'm glad they changed that to Yuri. Also his middle name can be transliterated to “Borte” so that’s fun too.

Yuri... I’m...

And since we’re giving introductions finally, Girl in Danger finally gets a name as well.

Heh heh, Alice, huh? Even your name’s cute.

Okay! I got it! I won’t touch you!!
Unless another wizard tries to kidnap you. Then no promises...

And with that, we now have our second party member. And thankfully Yuri mostly does knock it the fuck off with being a gross awkward perv too, so that’s good. Well... at least he will once we're out of the Plains. Again, it feels like some of the very early bits of Shadow Hearts were made for a demo pitch for the game and nobody ever went back to make 'em in line with the rest. Tune in next time as we make our way across the midnight plains of rural China, beat up some wildlife, cast a miracle or two and maybe fight a ghost as Shadow Hearts continues!

Video: Episode 3 Highlight Reel

Yuri Hyuga Concept Art – I’d yell at this guy for wearing four belts but this game came out the same week as Final Fantasy X and the monstrosity that is Lulu so ehh...