Another spin of the Judgement Ring.
The story picks up six months after the first game's bad ending. Yuri is still grieving the death of his beloved, but as World War I picks up, he makes it his job to defend Domremy from a german invasion. It quickly turns sour as his defeat marks the towns' destruction, and he gets infected with a curse that steals away his fusion powers and will kill him in time. An entirely new cast of characters will join Yuri on his quest, spanning Paris, Russia and Japan, trying to stop evil organizations, evil demons and maybe even Japan itself. The story is alright, but it's the cast that really makes it work, let's just say that one of the party members is a wrestling, vampire, gay super hero that turns into a golden bat every now and then. The cast is so interesting that I wish the game would've done more with them. Lucia, the assassin-turned-diviner gets barely any development, and Gepetto, the drunkard old puppeteer quickly falls to the wayside after the first disc. There was so much potential, and quite a bit of it was squandered. The story went full anime as well, which I didn't particularly enjoy mostly because they tried to ret-con the previous game's last boss into a 'He was a good guy all along but simply opted for evil means'. Seriously? It totally undermined him as a villain.
Covenant kept most elements from the previous games but enhanced them. The overall structure is the same: Explore Towns and Dungeons, fight turn-based battles and defeat bosses. Fights come out of random encounters, and beside your usual HP and MP gauge you also get the SP gauge, or sanity points. It will go down by one each turn, and if it drops to 0, your character will go berserk, luckily, the gauge refills after each battle and there are items to restore it during fights, and by the end of the game your characters' SP threshold will be so high that it will be of no consequence. The judgement ring makes its return as well, whenever you want to attack, be it magic or physical, or use items, you'll have to engage in a timing mini-game of sorts, having to press X on certain highlighted zones as a marker goes through the judgement ring in order to successfully carry out your action. It's not as tedious as it sounds, I promise.
And while Shadow Hearts clocked at around 20 hours, this game is twice as long and features dozens upon dozens of sidequests. Every party member earns their unique special moves in different ways as well, Blanca must find and defeat all 16 Wolves, Joachim must fight his master and eventually get to the Man Festival, Lucia must find oils and Tarot Cards, etc. There's a lot to do if you are so inclined. While Towns are lacking the harrowing atmosphere from the previous game, NPCs are a lot more varied, so it's kinda fun to track them down, if just to read their silly names.
9.0 out of 10