Continuing my series of games I’d like to see in HD, here’s a collection that would be in the vein of the ICO collection. The Shadow Hearts series are games most people have not played but are revered by people who are a fan of the genre. The same can be said about the ICO collection. For this reason, it seems that these games wouldn’t see a rerelease, yet the ICO collection exists. Therefore, why not Shadow Hearts? I’ll tell you why. Shadow Hearts was created by Sacnoth (later known as Nautilus), a company formally created by Legend of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta. After their first couple of games didn’t sell well, he left the company while the remaining team created the Shadow Hearts series, now under the control of Azure, the same company that bought SNK. After the Shadow Hearts games, Azure closed the company down and its various members are now scattered or a part of the new development company feelplus. As such, the future of the series is extremely bleak, if nonexistence. What’s more is who is in charge of the series is questionable.
However, should these matters be resolved and, more importantly, if the company in charge of the series find it worthwhile to release an HD collection of the series, here’s what I would hope they consider. Although this would be a Shadow Hearts compilation through and through, I think it should serve as a Sacnoth collection as well. The company only made two other games, one of which can be interpreted as a prequel to the Shadow Hearts series. If possible, I would like to see these two games included as hidden content, maybe unlocked after beating one of the games or two. Also, as a Sacnoth collection of sorts, documentaries about the company would also be appreciated, especially if it included Kikuta-San as he left the company before the creation of Shadow Hearts. What’s more is he left due to internal disputes between the developers themselves and some light could be shined onto that situation.
Having said all that, it should be explained why this series deserves a HD collection besides being all this company mildly succeeded at. The Shadow Hearts series is something special in the realm of RPGs. A Japanese created game with strong American sensibilities, the strong Lovecraft-inspired themes in the game give it a more ethereal and mysterious vibe than other games with horror overtones. Its atmosphere isn’t trying to grab you with quick jumps or isolation or even psychological events. It wants to trick your senses, perceive things you shouldn’t or can’t. Although this results in it not being a scary game, it does result in it being an engrossing world you want to return to. Gameplay wise, the innovative Judgment Ring is a interesting twist on the traditional turn based battle system. Wherever the arrow lands dictates the effectiveness of your attack. This also carries over in minigames and in shopping.
In the second game…that’s it. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never played the second or third game. However, I fell in love with the first game when I first tried it. Gamers like myself will probably only be able to try the second and third game, as well as the first, by buying a collection of the games. The series deserves a bigger audience than what it has now. The series has been well reviewed despite its low sales and like the ICO collection, deserves another chance. As I’m sure many of you have not seen the game in action, here’s a video of some gameplay from the first game in the series.