Shadow Hearts: Covenant

Rarely does a game come as far out of left field as Covenant did, much less a JRPG.  Hitting right in the middle of the smorgasbord of PS2 RPGs, it was able to elevate itself from the pack and nab a number of awards, accolades and universal critical acclaim. Being the sequel to such an underwhelming PS2 debut Shadow Hearts, Covenant takes the series in a new direction and adds a great deal of polish.

No RPG in recent memory has come out with such a mature over-arching plot and interesting characters. It takes place in a real, gritty and dark WWI-era Europe. The themes touched on and explored are much more than the typical RPG fare, and avoids common clichés. The battle system builds upon the turn-based, judgement ring system of the first. The new combo system adds needed depth and the monster fusion system is there in full effect. Battles are smooth, challenging, and well-done.

Greatest JRPG protagonist ever?

More than anything else, the thing that stands out is the perfect length. Maybe more of a result of the rollercoaster plot, but it won’t leave you wanting more, and you won’t grow tired of it 10 hours before the finale. There are a handful of key plot points that make you think “Shit, it’s over?” only to have you pick right up off from there.  Almost as if each segment in between these points could have been expanded into a full game itself.