Shadow Hearts

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A trilogy of role-playing games set in an alternate history of the early 20th century, mixing gritty realism with fantastic elements and heavy Lovecraftian elements. The first two games take place in Asia and Europe shortly before and during World War I, while the third game puts the player smack-dab in mid-to-late 1920s America... sort of. The original Shadow Hearts had the misfortune of being released just one week before the insanely popular Final Fantasy X, but the series has still enjoyed its share of fans over the years and has developed into something of a Cult Classic.

Koudelka, while not a Shadow Hearts game in name, was the first to be released and exists in the same continuity as the Shadow Hearts games. It was originally developed as the Magnum Opus of Hiroki Kikuta (who previously worked as the composer for Secret of Mana) and a radical new take on the stagnant RPG genre, but Executive Meddling forced him to change the game from Resident Evil style action-horror to Final Fantasy style traditional turn-based combat. The result was a mess (teaching us, among other things, why Survival Horror games should not have Random Encounters) with Kikuta resigning in protest after the game's completion.

Set in Wales in 1898, the game tells the story of Koudelka, a young gypsy girl with supernatural powers who is drawn to the mysterious Nemeton Monastery after experiencing a series of troubling visions. Along with adventurer/thief Edward Plunkett and bishop James O'Flaherty, they must delve into the dark history of Nemeton Monastery and stop the malevolent force that permeates its halls.

After original developer Sacnoth was taken over by Aruze Entertainment, the Sacnoth team (sans Kikuta) created Shadow Hearts as a Spiritual Successor to Koudelka, set in the same universe but shifting the genre to pure Eastern RPG.

The first two games star Yuri Volte Hyuga, part Genre Savvy Badass Ineffectual Loner and part goofy Idiot Hero Butt Monkey who just can't get a break. He also happens to be a Harmonixer, which means that he can fuse with the souls of the Cosmic Horrors that he defeats and turn into various superpowered monsters. He would rather just coast through life beating up anyone stupid enough to give him lip, except in Shadow Hearts there's a voice in his head that tells him to do stuff and isn't too appreciative if Yuri fails to fall in line. This leads him to rescue a young cleric named Alice Elliot, who the Big Bad needs to power his Doomsday Device, and the plot leads on from there.

The sequel, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, sees Yuri's former powers sealed away by the new bad guys in town and introduces Karin Koenig as his new companion. They seek to find a cure for the Mistletoe Curse that Yuri has been afflicted with while struggling against the Illuminati-like cult Sapientes Gladio, who naturally want to Take Over the World. Covenant later got an Updated Rerelease under the name Shadow Hearts II: Director's Cut which was unfortunately never released outside of Japan. Curiously, with a little bit of hackwork you can unlock some of the English-translated Director's Cut content in PAL versions of Covenant.

The third game, Shadow Hearts: From the New World, could almost be seen as a Gaiden Game (despite the fact it stays within continuity) in that it replaces Yuri with intrepid Kid Detective Johnny Garland, moves the setting to America (refreshingly, not Eagle Land) and gives the fusion powers to a scantily clad Magical Native American woman named Shania. She's searching for "Lady", the Stoic Cyberpunk woman who wiped out her entire tribe, and Johnny signs up for the ride after developing the ability to create a Laser Blade out of a powerful (but evil) force known as Malice.

For a very long time, the games in the series were notoriously hard to find. Recently, however, the first two were reprinted, making them rather easy to find at any good EB Games or Gamestop. From The New World is hard to find in stores but simplicity itself to order off the Internet. Good luck finding Koudelka, though.

Not to be confused with the Kingdom Hearts games which, while featuring shadows, are not related to this series.

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Shadow Hearts franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
  • Action Girl: Many of them, but Koudelka beats them all in the manga by taking control a Cosmic Horror by hypnotizing herself. It Is Awesome.
  • Aerith and Bob: Meet Hildegard, Joachim and.... Keith.
    • They may sound like this trope, but all are actually Judeo-European names.
      • Koudelka plays it pretty straight though.
  • Affably Evil: Albert Simon the Big Bad of the first game, is quite a cordial fellow aside from his motives. He harbors no malice toward the heroes, even after they defeat him -- he sees the whole conflict as nothing more than an honest difference of opinion.
    • The villain of part 2, Kato, is also like this. He and Yuri fight to the death, but even then, he considers Yuri his friend.
  • Alice Allusion: Alice Elliot in the first game.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Edward traveled to Nemeton Monastery because he heard the owner had hookers there. Seriously. Also, Yuri briefly contemplates "taking advantage of" Alice while she's passed out after he meets her.
    • He would have attempted it if she hadn't started talking in her sleep.
      • He's still at it, peeking up Karin's shirt after her costume switch, getting distracted by Lucia's dance - oddly, he's repulsed by Veronica.
      • Geppeto seems to like her though.
    • Roger Bacon, full stop. Finding him porno mags is needed for the character's ultimate weapon.
      • Elliot Ness might count, he's carrying around one of the magazines.
    • Johnny falls into some degree.
  • All Myths Are True
  • All There in the Manual: Each game has an in-game reference library on every single character, item and monster in the game. You get to keep it in the New Game+.
    • You actually need to look in the library and look at certain key items to do some side quests. Quizzes, anyone?
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Used surprisingly often. On the plus side, you'll get a little ? over your head when there's an item hidden nearby. Plot-important items have a ! instead.
    • Except for a certain special item to be found in Dehuai's tower, which gives Yuri a little heart over his head.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield
  • Ancient Keeper: Roger Bacon, when he's not globe-trotting alongside the heroes. He's 700 years old, so he qualifies simply by having a preferred place of study that rarely sees visitors.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: In Covenant, there's a section of the game where you control the Mutant Apes during a training exercise. And in the Director's Cut, there's a bit starring Nicholai, Lenny and Veronica.
    • The first game allows to play as Yuri's father Ben Hyuga for one battle.
  • And Then What?: A sidequest boss in Covenant, Orobas, has declared his intention to Take Over the World. After hearing it already before from someone else, Anastasia asked him this. Awkward pause.

Orobas: Then..I'll have to think about that.

  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Karin does one before the last dungeon.
  • Anti-Hero: Yuri Hyuga all the way.
  • Anti-Villain: Masaji Kato in Covenant, as a contrast to Yuri's Anti-Hero act.
  • Artistic License History: Part of the series' charm.
  • The Atoner: Lenny in From the New World, perhaps best shown by his solemn look as Shania describes how Nicholai unleashed the world's Malice from Apoina Tower in Covenant.
  • Awesome but Impractical: If you use the New Game+ in Covenant, you have access to the Seraphic Fusion at the very start - and Anastasia comes with all of her abilities. This should include Power Cannon and Euthanasia. However, using the powerful fusions at the first boss fight will drain your SP quickly, and using many of these ultra-powerful abilities normally restricted to the end of the game will drain your MP.
    • The first game subverts this, only giving you Yuri's fusions and the library. Until you have enough SP, you can't use higher-level fusions.
    • Johnny's awaker/malice form carries over to New Game+, but since his SP pool is extremely low, he won't be able to use it for a long time. Also, both of the awaker's special moves (one of which is earned only after a LONG sidequest) both have high MP costs.
    • Also, Lucia and Ricardo both have a skill that give all party members save for them the Third Key effect AKA allowing three spins of the Attack Judgement Ring. But you only get the skill late in the game, after completing their side quests. You can do it first, but the MP cost is HIGH. How much? 750 MP. According to Ricardo's leveling chart, he needs to be Level 65 to pull this off. By that point, the Bonus Boss should be a cakewalk! Oh, wait, both him and the Final Boss have a skill where they remove all buffs and get a extra turn (there is a item that reduces MP cost, but it's still too high to actually use in battle)!
  • Awesome Yet Practical: Many of those flashy moves that hit lots of times - as well as the Melt Crest. Wind Magic can hit both mid and high levels with many hits, making them useful for getting bonuses.
  • Back from the Dead: In all four games, someone attempts to resurrect someone else using the Emigre Manuscript. How deeply this affects the plot varies from game to game.
  • Badass Normal: Margarete from the original game is the only playable character in the entire series to have no magical abilities whatsoever, all she has is conventional weapons.
  • Battle Butler: Lenny. In Covenant, he's part of the Terrible Trio, but in From the New World, he serves as Johnny's butler. With one phone call, he races to his master's side- even halfway around the world- to deliver a Megaton Punch to his enemies. Now that's dedication.
    • Well, technically, he doesn't actually turn up and punch the enemy, he just fires an energy bomb from his fist. Halfway around the world. The reason he can do this is because he signed a contract with a demon called Godhand.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Too many times to count.
  • BFS: Frank's homemade ninja swords. Kurando's final Demon Morph (the Ogre Spirit Jutendouji) also wields one.
  • Big Badass Wolf: Blanca from Covenant.
  • Bishonen: Covenant's Kurando a thousand fold. To hammer home the point, his first Demon Morph is Tsukiyomi, a goddess.
    • Which is even funnier, considering the actual mythological diety is male.
    • Also Nicholai, though to a slightly lesser extent.
  • Bishonen Line: Yuri's most powerful transformation is basically a glowing version of his original form. Subverted somewhat in that his weakest Light and Dark transformations in the second game are also basically him with a different skin color.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Canon ending of Shadow Hearts (Yuri saves the world but loses the one he loved. There is an apocryphal Good Ending where she lives, but Covenant relies on Alice dying.), Covenant (Yuri commits suicide to save his soul from being wiped clean, and creates a time paradox that takes him back to the start of the first game) and the bad ending of From the New World (Shania is overtaken by the power of Malice).
    • There are some hints, at least, that the first two games are supposed to canonically add up to a happy ending: while most believe Yuri died at the end of Covenant's good ending (and assumed canon ending due to the poor quality of the bad ending) and the scene following was merely Yuri living out his fond memories in his soul as he promised Alice earlier, some argue he used the Asuka Stone Platform to travel time like the rest of the group for a second shot at his life. This interpretation is further supported by a line from Roger Bacon in From the New World claiming he has never seen an Emigre ritual. While the bittersweet ending is more commonly believed, neither interpretation should be discounted, as there is ample evidence for both.
    • The official Japanese Shadow Hearts: Covenant guidebook confirms that the two games do indeed link up this way.
  • Blatant Item Placement: Koudelka follows this out of necessity, but it's made slightly jarring by the fact that the game is, by comparison, extremely stingy about armor.
  • Bonus Boss: Every game has quite a few Bonus Dungeon(s) and pretty much every one has a boss to kill, which usually grants a character his/her Infinity+1 Sword, unique accessory, a final skill, or even open new quests.
  • Boobs of Steel: Karin in Covenant is the strongest physical fighter among the three playable female characters (the other two are casters), and the bustiest. Though honestly, it's easier to list female characters in Covenant who aren't rocking large breasts. Shania in From the New World even more so, being both well endowed and the Action Girl shapeshifter of that game.
    • Played for laughs when Johnny first meets Shania. Follow the arrow.
  • Book Ends: Shadow Hearts begins and ends with a train ride; The first half of Covenant begins and ends at Apoina Tower; From The New World begins and ends with Shania standing atop a skyscraper (if you got the bad ending).
    • Koudelka begins and ends in the same place.
  • Boss Rush: Some of the Pit Fight missions revolve around this. The first game has you fight them normally... but with only one character. The latter two will give you a random limit of party members, but with certain conditions.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Yuri falls victim to this in the first game after the Malice consumes him. The rest of the party have to fight him to snap him out of it.
    • Also happens in battle, as a character loses all of his/her's SP. They do random stuff (Blanca evens pees on someone for 1 damage), and they don't receive EXP at battle's end if the battle ends with the character still berserk. SP is refilled all the way at the end of the battle, so the SP restoration items (Pure Leaf, Pure Seed, etc.) can only be used in battle. Also, to learn the third skill of the most powerful fusions of the first game, Yuri must go Berserk.
  • Breakable Weapons: A prominent part of Koudelka's combat system.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Yuri Hyuga has a Russian mother and a Japanese father, which makes his first name (at leas the Woolseyfied version) into a Gender Blender; "Yuri" is a popular masculine Russian name, but also a popular feminine Japanese name. (He's actually half German, not half Russian, but his mother was carrying falsified papers identifying her as a Russian envoy. Long story.)
  • Cain and Abel/Luke, I Am Your Father: Nicholas and Anastasia in Covenant, Johnny and Lady/Grace in From the New World.
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: A fourth-wall-breeching example in Koudelka. The player can rename any item in the game, be it equipment or consumables. Want the cast to be healed by vials of crystal meth, or to attack enemies with the Chuck Norris Gun? Have at it.
  • Call Forward: Hands up if you feel slightly uncomfortable when the sugary sweet Princess Anastasia Romanov starts talking about how she's worried that if her parents don't improve their lot with the people then a revolution might be on their hands...
    • A fat man in the third game mentions how rich he is... in 1929. Ouch.
  • Came Back Wrong: A recurring theme in all four games: anyone brought Back from the Dead by the forbidden Emigre Manuscript returns as a hideous Cosmic Horror. Only one person (Johnny) has ever returned with both mind and body intact, and it took a Heroic Sacrifice on the part of his sister to do it -- even then, he still eventually developed a Super-Powered Evil Side as a result of his resurrection.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: The party have a habit of deadpanning villainous monologues: the more hammy or ridiculous, the better.
  • Chain of Deals: Covenant has a long trading quest inspired by an old Japanese legend about a man who started with a single piece of straw and traded it until he was rich. The quest starts with the main character being told this story and then being given a piece of straw. Depending on how you trade, you can get useless stuff, a squidload of money, or you manage to save the world from a horrible plague (oh, and you get Lucia's Infinity+1 Sword and the Dating Outifit as well). Good job!
  • Character-Magnetic Team: To Yuri's and Johnny's annoyance, he has a talent for attracting the most bizarre of characters.
  • Character Title: Koudelka, natch.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Koudelka's amulet that she loses while scaling the monestary's roof.
  • Cherry Tapping: Polishing off enemies with Mao's "Cat Touch" wins you special coins that can be used to advance her sidequest.
  • Chess Motifs: Koudelka's "Formation" screen opts to depict the three main characters as chess pieces. Koudelka is a Queen, Edward is a Knight, and James is (of course) a Bishop.
    • The Queen's Garden in Covenant has a puzzle around using Chess pieces. The keys to doors are even chess pieces!
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: During the ending of Covenant, the party is stuck in the Field of Takamagahara, a realm beyond time and space. Just before he dies, Kato tells the party that if they want to escape, they must pray fervently to return to the world that their hearts wish for. The only catch is that they cannot return to the immediate present. And so, the party prays together for one last time, and Yuri watches his Nakama fade away. Yuri's fate depends on what choice you made before the last two battles of the game.
  • Combination Attack: Introduced in Covenant. The player must issue the "combo" command to have a party member join up with another. All four members can link attacks together, to rack up an insane amount of hits and damage to the enemy. The fourth character, if he or she has enough MP, gets to use a sort of finishing move called Combo Magic, based upon the elemental alignments of the characters participating in battle.
    • Further expanded in From the New World; however, instead of moving characters next to each other, they must build up an energy meter (Stock) and characters can launch two attacks before the next character continues the combo. Combo Magic is still available, but it now needs both the MP cost and the character's Stock at Level 2.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Garan attempts to scare the party in Covenant, they're actually more interested on how he's levitating, rather than what he's saying - or that he's trapped them in purgatory and hell.
  • Compensating for Something: Kurando's second fusion. Hoo boy. It's even quite creepily lampshaded by his mother of all people.
  • Cool Old Guy: Zhuzhen from the first game, and Gepetto from the second. Frank could also count (he's 50).
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The world of Shadow Hearts is smack dab in a cosmic horror universe.
  • Crapsack World/Crap Saccharine World: The first two games definitely makes the world out to be like this. It becomes especially crapsaccharine around Covenant.
  • Creator Cameo: The Sacnoth Sword in Koudelka.
    • Also Joachim's Dark Tower, which has the staff of Azure causing a ruckus. The logo of the same company pops up during the Man Festival.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Every one of Shania's transformations. Especially the earth one.
  • Cute Mute: Lady of From the New World. She's sweet when she's not killing people or trying to cause The End of the World as We Know It, honest.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Shania.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The series rather loves this trope. Yuri, the main character of both 1 and 2, is, at worst, a Type 2 Anti-Hero with tendencies towards full-blown heroism. At best, he's just The Hero. He's Dark element and happy to be that way. Shania, the main heroine of 3, is a Proud Warrior Race Girl, Magical Native American, and ranges across the same moral spectrum as Yuri, going from Type 2 Antihero to simply The Hero. She's Dark aligned. For side characters, Lucia, from Covenant, is a gorgeous Italian woman, a bellydancing fortune teller, cheerful and loving, and a Dumb Blonde without being, well, blonde. She's Dark aligned. Also, while the Dark abilities constantly receive names like "Evil Edge", they are used by both heroes and villains with no comment. You even use a pack of freaking demons as spell sources in Covenant, and they never betray your trust at all!
    • The series also averts this trope as well- many of the villains, like Rasputin and Gilbert are Dark aligned. However, while their powers may be Dark aligned, this has no affect by itself on their evil- they're evil and Dark, not evil because they're Dark. So Dark Is Not Affecting Your Morality would be the best way to state the use of this trope in Covenant.
  • Dead Little Sister: Both Yuri Hyuga and Masaji Kato lose someone they love in Shadow Hearts. Covenant focuses on how they both deal with this tragedy in different ways: Yuri eventually learns to overcome his grief and regains his will to live, while Kato begins as the stronger of the two but eventually descends into nihilism.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Yuri.
    • Koudelka has a few moments of her own.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Soul Pact. Albert Simon controls Amon, Rasputin gains the power of Asmodeus and Nicholai claims Astaroth for his own use. A strong level of willpower is required to control the power without succumbing to Demonic Possession: Rasputin gets possessed after his Villainous Breakdown, Nicholai's will is broken through torture, while Yuri kicks Amon's ass and claims its power for his own, subjugating the demon through sheer Badassitude.
  • Demonic Dummy: Each Shadow Hearts game has at least one sidequest revolving around one of these, always taking place in an abandoned, haunted mansion called the Doll House.
    • Which leads the character involved with said quest to obtain their ultimate weapons. Alice and Gepetto's are gained at the end, but Ricardo can get his early if Johnny takes enough photos of a cockroach enemy.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Rasputin, though this is an example of Truth in Television. Also Gilbert in From the New World.
    • Not really: Real life Rasputin was more of a misblamed scapegoat than a devil, although he did look creepy, and he was working his way into the Tsar's inner circle (chances are, though, even if he wasn't assassinated the rebellions would have still happened).
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: These heroes are not impressed by abominations from beyond the veil, and aren't shy about sharing this.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Much of the premise of the games involve finding Cosmic Horror entities from beyond the stars and kicking their asses.
  • Dirty Old Man: The real Roger Bacon, who sends the heroes out to find porn for him in sidequests in Covenant and From the New World.
    • Also Gepetto, who reveals a worrying preference for dominatrix-slash-villain Veronica.
    • And Dehuai in the first game. He constantly comments on Alice's beauty, practically drools over her during a torture session, and you find a naughty magazine in his tower. Make of it what you will.
    • In addition to the hint of both of Roger and Dehuai's pervertedness, said magazine was needed for an extra sidequest by giving it to Roger. And there was this conversation. God knows what actually made that happen...

Roger: (While flipping through the magazine) "This page can't be opened!"
Yuri: "Wasn't me!! It was like that when I got it!"

    • Not to mention creepy accupuncturist Meiyuan from the first game, who more than takes advantage of his position when it comes to the male characters. Even underage Halley is not safe from his not-so-carefully concealed perversions.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Kurando's mother in Covenant makes incest jokes about him to the girl with a crush on him, then gives her a very revealing kimono...
    • And she tells Karin that Yuri is like her brother Ben "inside and out" - part of her thinly-veiled plot to hook her up with him, no doubt.
  • Disc One Final Dungeon: Kuihuai Tower in the first game, Idar Flamme and Apoina Tower in the second.
    • (Las Vegas) and/or (Chichen Itza) in the third.
  • The Ditz": Lucia in Covenant.
  • The Doll Episode: The Doll House, full stop.
  • Double Standard Rape (Male on Male): Poor Joachim... and poor Yuri for having to watch it.
  • The Dragon: Nicholai in Covenant, and Killer in From the New World.
  • Drunken Master: Mao of From the New World practices this martial art.
  • Duel Boss: Many. Really ramps up the difficulty and frustration when this turns out to be the case with Bonus Boss Col. Hyuga/The Seraphic Radiance in the first game.
  • Dungeon Town: A given in this series, given its Urban Fantasy leanings. A very notable example is the Disc One Final Dungeon in From the New World, which is a Chicago alleyway and a hotel filled with gangsters and monsters.
    • Yuri and Alice walk right into one... on purpose.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Both a meta and in-universe example when it comes to the first game. The basic ending without doing an optional sidequest is the bad ending which Shadow Hearts Covenant treats as canon. At the end of Covenant, Yuri is transported back in time to the beginning of the first game with full knowledge of all that transpired and according to Shadow Hearts 3, succeeded in earning his happy ending, the good ending of 1.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Meta-god in the first game. Amon, Asmodeus, and Astaroth, the "three gods of destruction" in Covenant, arguably. LOTS of them in From the New World.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Cornelia's "Dark Beauty" dress in Covenant, Hilda in From The New World.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: In every game, your party will eventually consist of one character of each element, plus one non-elemental. The "hurts more" pairings are Fire/Water, Earth/Wind and Dark/Light. There are spells that change your physical attacks to one of the specifics, as well.
  • Empty Shell: Get the bad ending in Covenant, and Yuri becomes this.
  • Enemy Scan: Anastasia does this by taking photos of the enemies, and sometimes learns their abilities. In From the New World, Johnny inherits her camera and ability.
    • Anastasia gains attacks from certain enemies, but needs to be in battle to see the enemy's stats. Johnny gets a card, but doesn't need to be in battle to see the enemy's stats.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Blanca in Covenant. Coupled with Only Sane Man.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Killer and Lady (though later you find out the latter's former name).
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Anastasia from Covenant. Shania of From the New World is The Chief's Daughter.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You
  • Evil Counterpart: Between a henchman and a non-core party member for a change. Veronica is this to Lucia.
  • Evil Feels Good: Professor Gilbert.
  • Expy: Killer and Lady of From the New World bear more than a passing resemblance to Yuri and Alice from the first two games.
    • And Gilbert, the third member of From the New World's villainous trio could pass for The Penguin's twin brother.
    • Ricardo looks more than a little similar to the protagonist of Robert Rodriguez's Mexico trilogy.
  • Fight Woosh: A swirly-thing in Koudelka and the original; Covenant and From the New World have a glass screen-shatter fight woosh for the normal battles, and a exploding ball of energy for bosses.
  • First-Person Snapshooter: Anastasia in Covenant. Johnny Garland in From the New World actually inherits the camera she used.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flamboyant Gay: Gerard and Pierre Magimel, the Recurring Traveller twin salesmen from Covenant. In From the New World, one of the twins disappears, and the other picks up an extremely Camp Gay boyfriend.
    • Also Meiyuan in Shadow Hearts. Not AS flamboyant, but still loud and proud to the point of making all the men - save Keith - go berserk during Acupuncture. Not to mention abrupt with the ladies.
  • Fortune Teller: Lucia from Covenant.
  • Funny Background Event: Sorta hard to focus on Shania and Natan's serious, dramatic conversation in the Grand Canyon when Johnny and the others are acting like morons in the background.
    • In Covenant, when Anastasia is telling the group about her troubles concerning her family, you can see Yuri dancing with Blanca in the background.
  • The Generic Guy: Nicolai, during the short time he's on your side (he's not much better as a villain). Some would also argue Kurando. Even Natan falls into this.
  • Genre Shift: Kouldelka was described as a Survival Horror-RPG mix. Shadow Hearts was an RPG with a horror-inspired setting. Covenant begins like something that wouldn't be out of place in a horror game... but then shifts to a more light-hearted setting. From the New world still keeps true to its macrabe roots, but could probably be officially called a comedy.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Upon seeing Andre, the enormous pink kitten Lucia unleashes upon the party, Yuri observes, "That's one giant pussy!" (the game is rated T, by the way). There was also an old woman willing to pose nude for photos, the entire Man Festival, and Yuri says "shit" in a whole ton of cutscenes.
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: Quite literally the Final Boss of Shadow Hearts.
    • Averted as a trope, though. There's plenty of build-up, foreshadowing, and it serves as a thematic climax.
      • On the other hand, the final battles of the other two games do have Giant Space Flea From Nowhere. Kato summons Susano'O and the other four relics to aid in the fight. Malice Unbreal is the actual final boss, and he comes as soon as the battle begins.
  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: From the New World has an extremely demanding Sidequest where you trade photos of your enemies for other photos or items. Harder than it sounds as some enemies only appear once and some trades require multiple copies of the same photo.
  • Global Currency Exception: Pierre Magimel's dressmaking business in Covenant. You can only pay him to make Cornelia's dresses by giving him "Stud Cards", basically trading cards depicting hot male models.
    • Combine this with the above entry, and you get this.
    • Cat Coins in From the New World. Apparently, cats accepting human money is not "right".
  • The Grim Reaper: In Shadow Hearts, the Grim Reaper appears in random battles when your stored Malice reaches the maximum level. It manifests as the thing that Yuri fears the most: his father wearing a kitsune mask. He's nearly impossible to beat, given his ability to lower Yuri's health to one, and he's the only one fighting. Later, the mask comes off to reveal Yuri's own face.
  • Guest Star Party Member: Nicolai in Covenant, mainly to try and fool you into thinking that he would be a main character. Which, he actually was going to be during the early developmental stages of the game.
  • Guide Dang It: Getting the good ending in just about any game. Unless you explore every millimeter of each area. And even then, knowing just what the requirements are for some sidequests is still Guide Dang It. Averted in Covenant where you're presented with a question right before the final boss. Choose one answer, you get the bad ending. Chose the other, get the good ending. Yup, it's actually that simple.
    • In Koudelka, unless you remember to fish a key item out of a fountain three discs after it fell in, the only ending you can get (without abusing Randomly Drops in the last dungeon until your brains dribble out your ears) is the one where the final boss ambushes your heroes with an acid mist, their faces melt off and everybody dies. Oh, and yes, if you get that far without grabbing the item, it's been Lost Forever.
      • For those who have suffered from the "Lost Forever", not exactly. You go to a certain place to fight a certain cat that will grant you the key item. But yes, that place is hard to find for people who aren't aware of this.
    • It's also important to note that it's actually the fans who declared the good ending the "good ending" and the other the "bad ending". Mostly because in the "good" ending, Yuri dies... but is reunited with Alice. And in the bad ending, he doesn't die, but loses all his memories.
    • There's also a part in Covenant and From the New World in which one of your characters is either tortured by a dominatrix named Veronica or interrogated by a pint-sized pirate. If you answer their questions "incorrectly", they'll repeatedly shock or stab your character. Picked the options that result in your character getting stabbed until they jump out of the barrel or shocked into unconsciousness? You sick bastard Wait, you mean you get a good weapon for them if you do that?!
      • This is also a bit of a Call Back to a sequence in the first Shadow Hearts game, in which Alice is "interrogated" by Dehuai. If you repeatedly pick the options where Alice hits on him, you unlock a dungeon. This at least is a bit more... well, intuitive since maybe you'd think it's fun to see what Dehuai would say to Alice when she says "You're so hot".
  • Guns Akimbo: A fighting style employed by Natan, The Stoic Badass Magical Native American Proud Warrior Race Guy from From the New World.
  • Hard Gay: Joachim from Covenant. And how!
    • Not to mention the trading cards collected throughout the same game.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: Lampshaded in all three games by Roger Bacon, who tricks you into thinking that you can rename him then mocks you when you try.
    • Unfortunately, the developers did not think of everything in this case, and there is no joke if you DO name him Roger Bacon in the naming screen. Boo!
    • Bacon aside, played straight in the first game. Characters will still be called by their real names in voice-acted cutscenes, but those are pretty rare.
    • You can also name your teams in Covenant. Cue people naming their teams stuff like "Team Fortress" and "Girl Squad".
  • Hiroki Kikuta
  • Historical Domain Character: Anastasia and Rasputin, for one. And guess what rather more famous stage name Margarete Zelle used?
  • Historical In-Joke: Heaps and heaps of them.
  • Hot Amazon: Shania.
  • Hot Chick with a Sword: Karin.
  • I Am Who?: Johnny in the third game is the first human revived by the Emigre Manuscript who hasn't become a mindless abomination in the process.
  • Idiot Hero: Yuri, though his boundless supply of Genre Savvy and wit counteract it very well. His ignorance is also quite justified, as due to losing both parents at an early age and being forced to fend for himself he never got a normal education.
    • Johnny, on the other hand, is a detective who did have a rich background and education. No wonder he only gets chosen to find lost cats.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Karin learns new sword techniques by reading pages of Wanger's Der Ring Des Nibelungen.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Alice in the second and possibly first game, depending on the ending.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Several characters, notably Geppetto (A Puppet. He equips strings that you don't see.), Joachim (anything he can find) and Frank (anything he can find and mount on a hilt).
    • Frank takes this to absurd extremes. He uproots the last living cactus in the Grand Canyon and puts a hilt on it. He puts a hilt on a giant marlin. He puts a hilt on a firework, absolving himself of any lingering guilt over his failure to take over his father's fireworks company. Finally he puts a hilt on a sword that already has one.
    • Anastasia attacks with Fabergé eggs. With her just tossing those around, no wonder the peasants revolted.
      • They're actually small machines in the form of Faberge eggs.
    • Also Alice in the first game, who whacks enemies with a book. Then again, compared to the others, that's normal (the game has a bit of a Darker and Edgier feel to it; the silly weapon users are a sign that this isn't a Darker and Edgier game).
      • And consider that one of her books is made with the flesh of a saint. EW.
    • Halley also attacks with a Slingshot - Not that improbable, especially since it's actually something that a kid his age would have.
    • Blanca is justified. He equips items that he can use to sharpen and refine his teeth and claws.
  • Incoming Ham: Covenant was actually a fairly serious game for the first good portion. Then you hear this, hear a brief speech, and there's no turning back.
  • Instrument of Murder: Ricardo's guitar in From the New World. It has at least one rifle and one flame thrower integrated. And it still plays!
    • You forgot about the guitar's missile launcher.
  • Interface Spoiler: Go to Nicolai's character page while he's in your party at the very beginning, and you're told then and there he's not who he says he is and is a bad guy!
    • Most of the decoy final bosses are spoiled by lacking a unique boss theme. Sorry, Messiah, you're not fooling anyone.
      • The Score system ranks you by the names of enemies and bossess. That means that if you're doing very well, you'll learn of upcoming bosses well in advance, which will spoil future villains before they're introduced. If you're doing exceptionally well (Wow, how do you keep getting Ring Perfect Victories like that?) you'll learn the name of the Climax Boss, the Final Boss and the Bonus Boss in that order.
        • Actually averted. If you get to Rank One, you're already have fought the boss.
  • In the Past Everyone Will Be Famous: The heroes frequently run into fictional versions of real historical figures, such as Roger Bacon, Al Capone and the Great Gama.
  • Intimate Healing: Practiced by Lady in From the New World. Exactly why kissing people heals them (and infects them with Malice to boot) is never explained.
  • Kill'Em All: Not many secondary characters from the first game survive. Basically if they have a portrait and they don't join your party, they will probably get offed.
  • Knife Nut: Killer in From the New World. To quote:

Killer: There, see? (circles arm around to create a bunch of knives) Go get them! (Points at target. Target becomes swiss cheese.)

  • Lady of War: Karin.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Tons of it.
  • Large Ham: Joachim. This seems to be a requirement for being a pro wrestler in the world of Shadow Hearts.
    • Albert Simon in the first game has his moments. "Now it is time for the END OF THE WORLD!"
    • Frank the Highly-Visible Ninja is the Large Ham of the party in From the New World.
  • Laser Blade: Johnny has one in From the New World.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: In Covenant, the party has to explore a battleship in order to find a certain girl. The party splits with one group being led by Yuri and the other being led by Kurando and Blanca. Both groups have to work apart to get through the ship, pushing switches to open doors on the other part of the ship. You're... not going to enjoy it.
  • Lighter and Softer: The later two games compared to the first two. From the New World is especially Lighter and Softer compared to the first two. Covenant is rather dark for the first couple hours and then starts to embrace its sense of humour.
    • Part of the reason the series has a Fanbase of course is that even the lighter and softer games retain their dark parts - In one scene of From the New World, you see Frank ham it up and attack with some of the most improbable weapons ever, and then in the next, witness malice take over an unwilling woman alive and are forced to fight her.
    • To sum things up: in the first game, the silliest thing around was probably Margarete and her gadgets, unless you poke around. By the third game, one of your party members is a Polish immigrant ninja who learned his ninjutsu in the jungles of South America, works for the CIA and is constantly berated by his master, a giant talking cat movie star who serves as Al Capone's second-in-command, and a mexican singer with firearms inside his guitar.
  • Light Is Not Good: The series also loves this trope. One of the worst villains in the series is Light aligned: Nicholai. Also, a hierarchy of three demon lords Amon, Astaroth and Asmodeus is mentioned in the second game. The Light-elemental demon Astaroth is not only much more powerful than the Darkness-elemental demon Asmodeus, but also about a thousand times more sinister and evil. Thankfully, Neutral-elemental Amon is both more morally upstanding and tougher than both the preceding guys.
    • Further used in the third game, where Lady's main attacks consist of shooting waves of red light that annihilate nearly everyone, and even the main characters take serious damage from it. Lady herself may be Non-element, but her attacks and design evoke light imagery.
    • Even more used: light-elemental spells despite being named things like "Holy Edge" are used by both heroes and villains with no comment from either side on the morality of the magic involved.
    • Also used in a Fridge Brilliance manner. Due to the fact that some of your best party members are Dark aligned- Yuri and Shania being the class examples- Light will fuck you up in battle, since they're weak to it. Since those same characters are strong against Darkness, however, Dark elemental enemies are easier to kill and less of a threat. Thus, a player always regards Light with more fear than Dark, exactly the way the main characters do.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted; it's the mages who are linear and the warriors who are quadratic. It's possible to beat the game using only melees and just giving crests to whoever can use them since anyone can be a mage. However, mages are still useful because they can buff, and unlike melee attacks, can actually hit multiple enemies at once.
    • In From the New World, abilities can get ridiculous with how powerful they are, though. Especially if you set up a combo with them and rack up the bonus damage. Boom.
      • Stock applies to enemies too. Either you kill it, or the boss combos you to death.
  • Lost Forever: A few one-time-only dungeons have rare and valuable items, and they can be easily missed (even with the ? indicator).
    • You can't go back to China in the first game. Mind you, YOU NEED TO GET SOME ITEMS THERE TO DO THE SIDE-QUESTS. Also, Amon can be missed if you don't get the certain item before the battle. Which locks you out of getting the ultimate fusion.
  • Love At First Sight: Anastasia upon meeting Kurando. He doesn't reciprocate, but is far too polite to let her down gently. However, he seems to have warmed up to her by the ending.
  • Lovecraft Country: Part of From the New World takes place here. Lovecraft himself shows up as a professor at Arkham University and will allow you to fight monsters for bonus items. Several of the monsters are inspired by Lovecraft - at least in name - but it can be difficult to tell due to the occasional, unfortunate marriage of phonetic translation and Did Not Do the Research (among others, Shub Niggurath is translated as "Jeb Niglas").
  • Lovecraft Lite: Sure, the world is filled with horrible otherworldy abominations, but at the end of the day, said monsters can get their asses handed to them by a luchador vampire and a giant talking cat.
  • Low Fantasy: Shadow Hearts is unique from most JRPG titles in that it takes place in the real world, even getting involved with real-life people and events.
  • Made of Evil: Yuri's accumulated Malice can actually form into monsters, which he must fight. In the first game, this was a way of performing maintenance on himself. In the second game, you don't have to d it regularly, but an early boss fight is against one such Malice Monster, a spider with giant human fingers for legs.
  • Mad Scientist: Gillbert in From the New World. All doctor in Royal Medical Association in the manga.
    • Dr. Hojo from Covenant.
  • Magic Music: Ricardo's speciality in From the New World: his songs bestow positive effects on every party member but himself.
  • Mask Power: Joachim becomes The Grand Papillon when he dons his butterfly mask, with an accompanying power boost. He can later upgrade to "The Great Question" as a Bragging Rights Reward. In From the New World, Hilda can inherent this mask and title.
  • McNinja: Frank Goldfinger, a Polish immigrant who learned ninjutsu in the jungles of South America instead of taking over his father's fireworks company in New York.
  • Mega Neko: Mao from From the New World and Andre, Lucia's pet from Covenant.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Hilda's rationale for changing the name of her ultimate weapon from "Magic Key Divine Angel Version 2, the Legendary" to "Magic Key Hilding". Namely, because that's easier to market.
  • Mercy Kill: If you think about it, Lady's final defeat in From the New World counts.
    • Whoever got resurrected by the Emigre Menuscript is better off killed, except Johnny.
  • Monster Arena: Appears in all three games in different forms.
    • To explain, the first game is 10 battles, back to back, with one character against old and remixed enemies (even bosses, and you gain EXP). There's two, with the last one having different prizes for the characters who finish. The last two games have 'trials', where take a party and kill enemies to what the trial giver wants. There's only one, and you unlock trials the further you go into the game (doing some of the sidequests will yield you more trials).
  • Moral Dissonance: Yuri beats the living hell out of a mortally ill villain whose plans he has just completely and irrevocably ruined, while the villain's grandson looks on helplessly, having already been shoved to the ground.
    • The reasoning is that the Foreign Minister is the man responsible for the attempted invasion of China, making him indirectly responsible for the deaths of Yuri's parents, since Dehuai specifically targeted Ben Hyuga's family as revenge for him thwarting the first Demon's Gate Invocation as an agent of the Japanese government. More importantly, the Minster's pleading to spare his grandson mirrors the actions of Yuri's mother shortly before she was killed trying to protect her son. This explains why the Minister is the only villain in the series who actually manages to get to Yuri, causing him to go crazy and then break down in tears.
      • Unfortunately, if you didn't play the first Shadow Hearts game, this is one of those moments that would have you conused as hell.
    • From the New World ends in willful fratricide. Which the party angsts about for all of 10 minutes. Which leads to the cutscene where mass murderer Killer says, in a moment full of irony, "You're not a very good brother, are you?" Though by that point, Lady/Grace was a soulless monster intent on destroying the world, and it was clear that killing her was their only option. Hell, one could even consider it a Mercy Kill.
  • Morality Pet: Alice to Yuri. And Kosuke to Ishimura.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Lucia in Covenant, Shania in From the New World. Her transformation sequence involves her explicitely stripping nearly naked.
  • Multiple Endings: And thanks to Stable Time Loops, both the good and bad endings to the first game are canon. It was confirmed by Word of God that the bad ending (Alice dies) of Shadow Hearts leads to the events of Covenant, which ends with Yuri being sent back in time to repeat the events of Shadow Hearts, only this time he gets the Good Ending (Alice lives).
  • Mythology Gag: There is a girl named Jeanne in the french town of Domremy... DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything? Hint: Jeanne d'Arc... a.k.a. Joan of Arc. Who also was from Domremy.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The fight against Albert/Amon in the first game ends up generating enough energy to cause Neameeto to rise, in Covenant, it is revealed that Albert's defeat allowed Sapientes Gladio to grow stronger, and in From the New World, defeating Killer generates enough Malice to finallly open The Gate, although it's implied that The Gate would have opened anyway, although it would have taken a while.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Special Agent Kato, after the death of his "girlfriend", Ouka. Hell, Susano-O, the Final Boss of Covenant, is listed in the Library as "summoned by Kato's nihilistic spirit."
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Oh god, so many. The best is probably Joachim, however; he's a Shapeshifting Toku Superhero Vampire Professional Wrestler.
    • Trumped only by Mao in From the New World. She's a giant cat movie star who serves as a martial arts mentor (to a McNinja, no less) and Al Capone's bodyguard and second-in-command.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Anastasia, naturally.
  • Non-Elemental: The Neutral Element. Johnny is the only character to naturally be this, with Yuri, Kurando and Gepetto getting forms to become neutral.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: Taking the wrong path in the optional dungeon Black Forest hits you with a "Surprise! You're dead!" ending. If you listen to the flowers at the beginning, they tell you what each colored flower does. The White Flower wants you to go further into the forest, and the Black Flower wants you to leave. You put the rest together.
  • Obviously Evil: Rasputin, who's sallow, has a long beard, and is blue. Then comes the professor in From the New World, who looks like Igor's older cousin...
  • Ominous Japanese Chanting: "ICARO", a recurring song throughout the series.
  • One-Winged Angel: Practically 85% of the bosses in the whole series are One Winged Angels. A good portion are never fought except in their One Winged Angel form.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: One is a Improbable Weapon-Using Large Ham wannabe-superhero trained as a pro wrestler. One is a Genre Savvy Elegant Gothic Lolita Magical Girl. And one is called Keith.
  • Painting the Fourth Wall: Among other instances, in the second game, Yuri acknowledges the Nautilus as Joachim's "last weapon", and decries the Man Festival sidequest:

Yuri: You can't be serious... Not in such a pure, clean, mega-hit RPG as this...!

  • Panty Shot: Plenty throughout the series, a direct effect of miniskirts and low camera angles. Especially noticeable during battle.
  • Pop Quiz: Covenant and From the New World, with two guys on the side doing 'O's for correct answers, and 'X's for wrong answers. Oh, and you're given only 10 seconds to answer a question.
  • Powers as Programs: Crest Magic in Covenant. However, Hilarity Ensues when the party realizes that Yuri is too stupid to recall spells.
    • Crest Magic is also involved in a long sidequest, the Solomon's Key, as all the crests are portable versions of the 72 spirits of Solomon.
    • Stellar Magic in From the New World also act like this. But unlike the Crest Magic, there's no real story significance about them.
  • Pretty in Mink: Anastasia's fur coat and hat.
  • Prisoner of Zenda Exit: The Big Bad attempts this during the end of the first game's first act, but his grand exit gets held up by a quite undignified piece of debris to the back of the head.
  • Psychic Powers: Koudelka, and Halley in Shadow Hearts.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
    • Shadow Hearts: A man who can fuse his soul with demons, a cute exorcist, a Taoist mage, Mata Hari (yes, that one), a fencing vampire, and an ESPer who is the son of the prequel's heroine.
    • Shadow Hearts 2: A man who can fuse his soul with demons, a female German officer/fencer, a perverted old man puppeteer, a wolf, a vampire masked wrestler, an air-headed tarot reader/dancer, Anastasia fucking Romanov, and a samurai.
    • Shadow Hearts: From the New World: A boy who can use the embodiment of humanity's malice as a weapon, a female Magical Native American, a Magical Native American who uses Gun Fu, a Brazilian ninja with a saw-katana, a giant drunken cat, an Elegant Gothic Lolita, and a mariachi which a guitar-machine-gun.
  • Recurring Traveller: The Magimel brothers in Covenant are a classic example.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Ouka in Covenant (she is a clone of Yoshiko Kawashima, Kato's dead love-interest).
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: The series has been getting more zany and light-hearted with each new installment.
  • Running Gag: The Ring Spirits, magical otherworldly beings ruling over the fate of humanity. Sounds Serious Business? Think again.
    • Also, the Hard Gay/Camp Gay shopkeepers being ahead of you. In every area. Even if you literally travel from one area to one you've visited before. They're always ahead of you. Even in places no human has set foot in forever (also see Lampshade Hanging above).
    • Roger Bacon has two. Naming him, and getting him perverted magazines.
  • Schizo-Tech: Scads of it. The nuclear-powered "Bacon Jet," and Margarete's cell phone, robots and computer banks in 1928 Roswell, and much more.
  • Send in the Clones: The Mutant Apes, Covenant's Quirky Miniboss Squad for the last third of the game.
  • Senseless Violins: Ricardo and his loaded guitar.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Karin.
  • Shooting Gallery: Covenant.
  • Shoot the Medic First: The final battle in Covenant has four targets. Defeating one actually ends the battle, but the other three make the battle much longer if you ignore them. One of which heals. If you don't take down any of them? Well, let this troper just say that the game gives you a chance to kill the big boss with all four characters getting a turn each. After that, it's better to restart the Playstation.
  • Shout-Out: In Covenant, one of the wolfs Blanca faces for his powerup sidequest is called "the Lonely Wolf" and wears a RED BASEBALL CAP.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Yuri Hyuga will not take that sort of crap.
  • Skippable Boss: Hilariously subverted. When Johnny arrives to the altar in the Aito cave, he founds out what looks like a colossal statue of a winged minotaur/centaur hybrid wielding a blood-stained sledgehammer. He tries to sneak around it... only to get caught in the middle:

Johnny: I guess that's typical. *cue boss battle*

  • Smug Snake: Nicholai.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Koudelka had some... very curious ideas of what a battle sequence song should sound like. See here and here.
  • Spirit Advisor: The Ring Soul.
  • Split Personality: Hilda of From the New World changes her shape and personality depending on how many Calories she has absorbed. The "curvy" Hilda is sweet and kind, the "slim" Hilda is more of an Alpha Bitch.
  • Sprite Polygon Mix: Koudelka and the first Shadow Hearts, of the "polygonal characters on bitmap backgrounds" type.
  • Stable Time Loop: Covenant creates two at the end of the game: after his death, Yuri is sent back to the moment he first met Alice (at the start of Shadow Hearts), turning his life into an ontological paradox. At the same time, Karin is sent back in time to meet Yuri's father, becoming Yuri's mother and creating a predestination paradox.
    • Depending on how you interpret it, the former could instead be an example of Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Since the second game follows on from the bad ending of the first, you could see it as Yuri getting another chance to save Alice and get the good ending.
  • Standard Status Effects: Aside from the RPG staples of poisoning and other debuffs, the Judgment Ring's presence ensures that there are a lot of meta-examples which screw with the Ring and its components.
  • The Stinger: From the New World's bad ending, as well as both of Covenant's endings.
  • Straight Man: Yuri, which leads to many a Lampshade Hanging when the party encounter some new bizarre situation or character.
    • Even more so with Johhny who is the only one pointing out how bizarre the various things they come across are. He seems to be the only one to have a problem with the giant talking drunken kung-fu mob boss bodyguard cat following them around.

Johnny: Lauded UFO Legend Lands in Roswell... Giant Cat Commands Crime Crown in Chicago Mafia'? Yeah, nobody with half a brain would believe this..."

  • Stripperiffic: Veronica in the second game, and Shania in the third. Just look at which part of her body Johnny looks at in their first meeting. And the there is Lucia's Bride's Dress.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Meta-God in the first game.
  • Super-Powered Evil Side: From the New World: Johnny Garland.
    • Technically, Yuri's fusions all count as well. Particularly Amon.
  • Surprisingly Easy Mini Quest: In Shadow Hearts, you have to constantly go to the Graveyard to clear out your accumulated Malice, which comes in the form of a monster whose strength is proportional to the level of Malice, and only with Yuri. Even at maximum Malice, these battles are surprisingly easy.
  • Talking Animal: Mao from the third game is a giant talking cat who loves action movies. She's also an aspiring actress.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Most of the main characters are related to each other in some fashion.
  • Tarot Motifs: Lucia's special ability lets her draw Tarot cards to invoke special effects. Not as good as it sounds, as it's entirely based on luck and can backfire horribly.
    • Specifically, all of Lucia's special effects have a random chance of being "reversed". That means that the fantastic ability to kill all enemies in one hit may instead hit your own party and cause instant game over. Cards with yellow sparks double the effect, but can also be reversed. Lucia's special accessory gives the effect to give the cards the double effect, but you can still draw a reverse card...
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Koudelka, Edward and Father O'Flaherty in Koudelka.
  • Telephone Polearm: Joachim.
  • There Can Be Only One: The Wolf Bout and the Cat Pagoda.
  • Throw the Book At Them: Alice.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: A recurring plot device in all four games is the Emigre Manuscript, a forbidden text that contains instructions on how to bring someone Back from the Dead. Unfortunately, it almost never works out the way the caster intends. Johnny is the only person to be brought back from the dead with his mind intact, and even then, it was only because his sister sacrificed her own life force.
    • There are two others, one that allows the user to channel the power of the demons of hell or can be inverted, to channel the power of the gods themselves, and one that summons a space alien powerful enough to be called a god to come and destroy the earth. These two books play a major role in Shadow Hearts, but never appear again in the series.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The various Keys, which grant extra revolutions on the Judgement Ring (and therefore, more attacks).
    • Infinity Key + Gamble Ring. It's not Game Breaker because there is only one such key, and you only get it after beating the game (also, it's still very hard to hit the small activation area). Still, the combination allows a character to pummel an enemy with physical attacks until it dies.
  • Tragic Monster: Lady/Grace in From the New World.
  • Transformation Trauma: Yuri in the first two games, which makes sense considering that his Fusion technique has him forcefully merging his body with the souls of the various vengeful monsters that he's defeated. But after defeating Fox Face for the last time, Yuri will master his Fusion power and will no longer feel pain when he transforms. The same applies in Covenant after he comes to terms with the Mistletoe Curse.
    • On the other hand, Shania doesn't seem so hurt by Fusion. That's because her Fusion powers are gained from a mutual pact with otherworldly spirits.
  • Translation Convention: Especially in Covenant. We've got Japanese-Russian actually German Yuri, who was raised in China, talking with German Karin, French Geppetto and Russian Anastasia. Add to this the puzzle in the Russian underground involving Cyrillic letters that, in the English version at least, Yuri mistakes for Roman letters.
    • The pre-battle banter for the Wolf Bout fights are the only times Blanca's voice is heard. At all other times only the standard barks and growls are heard, though occasionally the player is shown his thoughts.
    • Also in From the New World, "In the white man's words..."
  • Tsundere: Shania. Karin could also apply, although nowhere near as much.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Karin. And how!
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In the Shadow Hearts universe, monsters are treated as an normal part of the world. However, the average person apparently doesn't handle them too well, as the Sanity Points mechanic seems to reflect with its constant ticking down to berserk status.
    • Not to mention the usual case - nobody ever bats an eye at your party members. Obviously one expects people to notice Joachim, Frank, Lucia, Shania, or Mao to be a tad conspicuous. But this gets a different kind of weird when you have part-Japanese Yuri walking around China not too long after this, or German Karin and Russian Anastasia prancing right across faction lines in the middle of World War I.
      • Anastasia actually mentions this and gives Karin a fake identity, Karin.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Altered; you're not using MP on them, they're junctioned effects to your attacks. And you'd be surprised how nice Instant Death is against late-game Demonic Spiders.
  • The Vamp: Veronica Vera, a recurring villain from the second game who wielded a mean whip and dressed in impossibly skimpy and outlandish dresses.
  • Villain Decay: Nicholai "I Want to Defeat You" Conrad.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Want to get Yuri the most powerful spells of his level three fusions? He needs to go berserk. This is something you typically want to avoid.
    • Hey, torture scenes. Want to get a weapon for them? Pick all of the options that involve your character getting hurt. The closest the first Shadow Hearts game has to a torture scene is the option for Alice to hit on Dehuai instead. This unlocks an optional dungeon. Thankfully this isn't as much of a Violation of Common Sense given that no harm really comes to Alice if she hits on Dehuai and a mischievious player can see what'd happen if they hit all those options and find a dungeon opened up, but picking an option where the character is zapped or poked with a sword? Yeah.
  • The Virus: Malice. Portrayed in the first game as the lingering (and quite vengeful) hatred of the Cosmic Horrors that Yuri has defeated and absorbed, portrayed in the second game as a Hate Plague formed from the accumulation of all negative emotions, and portrayed in the third game as a malevolent, living force that can actively infect people, granting them powers such as resuscitation from death and transformation into a convenient Boss Form, with a dose of Brainwashed and Crazy thrown in for free.
  • The Voice: Yuri is guided throughout the events of the first game by a voice in his head. Later, it is revealed to be the imprisoned Koudelka, who also happens to be the mother of one of your party, the psychic London street urchin Hally.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Albert Simon pre-Shadow Hearts, according to Covenant.
    • Although both Rasputin and Gilbert both seem like generic power-hungry villains at first, one of Rasputin's motives for trying to Take Over the World was that he believed that Europe's current government was incapable, and if Gilbert succeeded, nobody would have to be powerless.
    • Kato in Covenant is the ultimate well-intentioned extremist.
  • With Friends Like These...: Koudelka, Edward and Father O'Flaherty are constantly bickering with each other.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Sanity Points, a staple of the series. Each character starts battle with a number of Sanity Points that gradually trickle away with each turn. When they hit zero, your character goes temporarily insane and you lose control of them. A character who ends the battle in this state doesn't gain any experience points. Those with Fusion powers start with significantly more Sanity than anyone else, but the use of their powers drains their SP much faster. Interestingly, the trio of playable vampires in the series all have exceptionally high sanity, which makes sense since they'd be much less alarmed by monsters and supernatural elements.
    • And this actually makes a bit of sense, since Anastasia, Alice, and Johnny have the least amount of SP - Alice is quite delicate, Anastasia is a little girl, and Johnny got his start watching a man being eaten. Even Halley, who's younger than Alice, has some SP to spare - and this makes sense when you consider that he's probably been quite jaded and toughened after what he's gone through. [1]
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Kato from Covenant, after having his love die in his arms for the second time, he decides to destroy the present world by erasing the last hundred years and changing history to a better course.
  • World War I: Covenant takes place in Europe, 1915.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: The second game has a pro-wrestling superhero vampire!
    • Also, his teacher? The actual Great Gama! [1].
  • Yasunori Mitsuda: Composed part of the music for Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts: Covenant.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Each game has one - Koudelka, Alice, Karin and Hilda.
  1. Let's see, he's Koudelka's son and inherited her psychic powers - when he was young, he watched his own mother get taken away to a mental "hospital" and left on the streets, with almost no training of his own psychic powers.