: Welcome to the streets of New York, circa 1929 - even though the handful of NPCs on the streets and lack of any visible crowds makes it feel a lot more like Connecticut.
: Just like the older games, NPCs on the street have names (and sometime descriptions). Naturally, we run face-first into a Simpsons reference. This game came out in 2005, The Simpsons had already been a zombie for half a decade by that point.
: I’m pretty sure the Hudson River was so polluted in 1929 that you couldn’t fish in it, just like it is today. To this day, over 200 miles of the Hudson is considered a Superfund site by the US Government.
: Depp might just be confused because of his ex-wife, Amber the Regular Maniac.
: And, of course, a reference to Winona Ryder. I’m not sure what it is with Japanese media and Winona Ryder - Mizzurna Falls also has a character named after her.
: “I-I don’t peep! I was on a love affair investigation.”
: The person we’re looking for is this kid, who is… just kinda loitering by a dumpster. I’d like to remind you of something which will come up again in just a minute, and that’s this:
: I guess now we know why there were all those people in YIIK who were standing around dumpsters, but that’s not the only thing the Allansons, uh, “borrowed”.
: “None of your business! Anyway, have you seen the person in this photo?”
: “Times Square, huh? OK, I’ll go check it out!”
: I’m not sure what the better interpretation of this line is - the interpretation that Johnny, who has somehow lived in New York his entire life, has never heard of Times Square, or the interpretation that no one who actually lives in New York goes to Times Square.
: We can access the world map now, and since there’s nothing else we can do here, we can go off to Times Square… right after I go back and grab some easily-missed items. Shadow Hearts and Covenant were games you did not want to play without a guide, and this is no exception.
: There’s a Mana Leaf right in front of this car, with zero indication that it’s there.
: As is par for the course for Shadow Hearts, every healing item is some kind of mystery plant that blooms once every thousand years and is only useful when it blooms, and yet you can buy them anywhere.
: We can also go back into Johnny’s office to get a couple of chests with items in them.
: Thera Leaves heal 75 HP, which at this point is more than a full heal for Johnny.
: And now we’re ready to move out.
: Welcome to Times Square, home of IT OLD CHICAGO. What does IT OLD CHICAGO sell? Hell if I know.
: I looked up “bread with pepper sauce”, and it’s apparently a thing. Think garlic bread, only with roasted red peppers instead of garlic.
: Wealthy George has his car repossessed three months later after losing absolutely everything the Great Depression. By the way, there’s a hidden item on this screen. Can you guess where it is?
: It’s behind the sign.
: I’d like to point out that at this point in history, Harlem is in the middle of the Harlem Renaissance and redefining what it means to be Black in the United States. This is the golden age of jazz music.
: Anyway, if we keep going north…
: The building’s name is a reference to a party member from Covenant, along with his creepy doll that may or may not house the soul of his dead daughter. Clearly, he must’ve been kicked out of France.
: And here’s the return of Gerard Magimel, the kind of offensive gay merchant from Covenant. This time, he’s separated from his brother, who is presumably preoccupied with the collection of softcore gay porn trading cards Yuri gave him in Covenant.
: Shadow Hearts as a franchise should probably come with one of those “Everyone was harmed in the making of this game” warnings at the start. ESPECIALLY this game.
: “Uh… um… it’s Johnny Garland, but…”
: “Johnny, huh? That’s a nice name. It’s got a nice ring to it…”
: Now, I know this game came out years before DmC and shouldn’t be blamed for this, but I absolutely get the same vibe from it. We have Shadow Hearts at home.
: “Hey, Johnny baby-- can I call you that?”
: “No! No way!!”
: “Oh, so cold-hearted… well, no biggie. I’m Gerard Magimel, a merchant. This is my honey, Buigen. We just arrived in this land. Nice to meet you.”
: “Ahh… nice to meet you too. Um… I’m in a bit of a rush, so I’m just gonna get going now.”
: “Well, aren’t you an impatient boy? And we just got to meet you…”
: “That’s right! Stay and talk a little longer. I’ll even give you something special of mine!”
: “A point card?”
: “That’s right, a point card. If you shop at my store, you’ll collect points on your card. When you collect enough points, you can buy things for cheap, or we’ll pay more for things you want to get rid of. (If you’re successful with the Ring…)”
: Oh christ, the Ring. We’ll get to that in a bit. If you’ve played or read LPs of the first two games, you know about the Ring. God bless the Ring.
: “Did you just mutter something?”
: “U-uh, no, nothing. Anyway, this card’s a great deal! Aren’t you pleased?”
: “Hey hey - no fair cutting in, Gerry! Well, in that case, I have a present for the boy, too.”
: Not cool, game! Not fucking cool!
: “Whoa… you can do magic with this.”
: “Keep it on your body at all times. Just pretend that it’s me.”
: “No…! Honey, how audacious!”
: “Uh… well, thank you. Can I get going now? I’m really in a hurry…”
: “Oh really? That’s too bad… all right, we’ll be doing business around here for a while longer. We’ll be waiting for you, Johnny baby!”
: I’d show off how the star chart works, because it’s one of the few things that can be definitively called an improvement over the way Covenant did things, but there’s not really much to it just yet.
: For the most part though, From the New World is the Eternal Punishment to Covenant’s Innocent Sin, in that almost everything is a step backward.
: I suppose that would make YIIK the Persona 3 FES in this equation, which adds up because Persona 3 kinda sucks mechanically and then The Answer comes along and makes it all so much worse.
: On the side of the Geppetto building is the person we need to talk to.
: “Really!? Where? Where!?”
: “Near the theater in Chelsea, huh? Got it! Thank you!”
: We can grab a tent out of this box here that’s just kind of sitting out in the open.
: The game finally gives us a lore explanation for why Yuri kept throwing away all those tents.
: Chelsea is where we get to see the game’s battle system, which is… let’s put it this way, if I wasn’t intentionally holding back, I would be dunking on this game harder than I did Eternal Punishment.
: Don’t worry, ma’am, I’m sure your kids have been sacrificed in a demonic ritual. Alternatively, they’re summoning demons and making weapons out of the souls of their dead friends.
: Honestly, it’d probably be better for all of us if Johnny got snatched up and replaced with a better protagonist. Like, you know, Yuri. Or anybody, really.
: I did the math on this one. The civil war lasted from 1861 to 1865. Even assuming this guy signed up in 1865 at the age of 18, he is a minimum of 82 years old.
: Before we go too far, though, there is what I’ll start calling a bullshit item hidden on this screen. While it’s not technically a requirement to progress, it might as well be. You’ll see why.
: The Coral Lariat is an accessory that I believe has been in the series since the first Shadow Hearts. It slows the speed of the Ring by 25%. The Dark Id never used these, but I’m going to just for this dungeon because it also boosts magic attack by 2 points.
: “People don’t get shot in this town” - quote from man shot.
: “What happened, mister? Are you OK? It looks like you’re hurt.”
: I don’t know why, but McCoy looks like an extra in Sonic 2006. For that matter, so do a lot of the NPCs in this game.
: “A strange rumor?”
: “This is the run-down theater the person in Times Square was talking about, huh?”
: “Sounds shady… like the perfect hide-out. Yeah, it must be here! Thanks, mister!”
: This is the first dungeon of the game, the tutorial dungeon. I highly recommend that if you are playing this on real hardware, you immediately stop. I mean, just in general. Go play something else.
: There’s a mana leaf hidden off-screen in this area, before we enter the dungeon proper.
: “I’m not a journalist. I’m a detective, and I’ve come in search of someone. I’d like you to let me through.”
: And now we’re in combat. First, I’d like to explain that orange bar labeled “SP”. That stands for “Sanity Points”, which have unfortunately been a thing since Shadow Hearts 1.
: Sanity Points work like this: you lose one a turn (usually) and at zero, your character goes “Berserk”, which causes them to do dumb shit like waste expensive items on the enemy and attack the party.
: If this happens with one character, it’s an automatic game over.
: And now, the Ring. The Ring (full name: “Judgment Ring”) is a QTE that pops up every time you perform an action in combat. Hitting the orange area is a “hit”, the red area is a “strike” that does slightly more damage (or heals better, or whatever).
: You know, looking at the Judgment Ring… I feel like I’m somewhere else. A bad place. You ever get that feeling?
: Now, here’s why this sucks. By default, Johnny needs a minimum of two hits to kill either of these guys, who are generically named “Thug” and “Fat Thug”.
: You’ll notice that on the turn meter, Johnny’s portrait turns red - that’s because that’s the point at which he will go Berserk, and for our purposes pulls out a revolver and offs himself.
: Now, let me tell you about an even more annoying mechanic.
: You’ll notice under “Attack”, we have “Handy Tools”. Apart from both of those words being a lie, Handy Tools is Johnny’s special skill. What does it do, you ask?
: It makes him pull out a camera and take a picture of the enemy. Now, there was a character in Covenant who used this exact mechanic except it gave her the Shadow Hearts equivalent of the Enemy Skill ability from Final Fantasy.
: Snap does nothing. It has no effect in combat. What it does is give you a “snap card” of the enemy you use it on. You need a minimum of around 120 snap cards to unlock a dungeon very late into the game.
: There’s just one problem there. A lot of the enemies only show up in one particular location, and some of these locations (like the theater) can’t be re-visited. While we can get the snap cards for the Thug and Fat Thug later, there are a lot of enemies where we can’t do that.
: Now, you might realize if you’re doing the math that I just wasted a turn using Snap, which means that Johnny is now incapable of finishing this fight… sort of.
: Through the magic of some Handy Tools of my own (read: savestates) I simply hit a Strike on the Ring, which does exactly enough damage to one-shot the other Thug.
: Let me tell you though, Snap is a straight up shit mechanic in a game like this. It works in games like the FF7 Remake because you’re not on a constant death timer. Here? Kind of a dick move.
: I didn’t record it, but Johnny’s end-battle quote here is “Don’t mess with New Yorkers!”. You know that kid in all the 80s movies who gets shoved into lockers? That’s basically Johnny’s voiceactor.
: Oh good, an orphan. Now all we have to do is find the Emigre Document and grind her into paste.
: There’s no way she isn’t secretly the ringleader of the hobo yakuza.
: “OK, I’ll go and look for your brother. Stay here and wait until I come back.”
: “I will, I will. I may not look it, but I’m a detective. Finding people is my specialty!”
: Immediately down the hall from Nancy is another fixed tutorial fight.
: Notice how there’s a green gauge with a “1” over it on the bottom of Johnny’s meters? That’s Stock, which is one of the mechanics I really, really do not like.
: Stock works like this. It builds up over time, and allows you to either do a Combo with multiple characters for a shit-ton of damage, or alternatively use Double to perform two actions in one turn. Unfortunately, Double doesn’t allow you to attack twice - you can attack and cast a spell, but can’t do any one action twice.
: Because there are only two enemies here, I can get a free Snap on the regular Thug enemy. One other thing I should mention about Snap that makes it doubly shit: some enemies need to be hit with it multiple times to give you a snap card.
: I use some uh, Handy Tools to get another strike and end this fight just before Johnny runs out of sanity.
: This time, we get experience and money. Now, there’s one other thing I’d like to point out, and this is why the stock system sucks - notice how Johnny has that “2” over his stock meter?
: Stock carries over between battles, and given that the developers nerfed the shit out of SP in order to force you to interact with this mechanic, you will be forced to grind stock at times.
: What makes it even worse is that there’s another mechanic, which we’ll see coming up, where enemies get their own stock meters… and so you wind up spending all of your stock to stop them using theirs.
: I guess I can explain how the star charts work now.
: Instead of having a “Dominance Capacity” stat that governs how many spells you can equip, the star charts have slots of varying shapes and levels. The only reason this is an upgrade is because you don’t have to memorize which magic crests have which spells on them.
: There are a couple of items upstairs we might as well grab, along with some bullshit that we’ll see in a minute.
: Not shown: another battle with a generic Thug and Fat Thug.
: Seals are stat-raising items that raise a stat from 1 to 3. If I remember right, using them outside of combat always gets you a 1, while using it in combat gets you a 2. Using it in combat and getting a strike on the Ring gives you 3.
: This is the right side of that big room we saw coming up the stairs. If we go to the left side…
: There’s another thug guarding a chest, and I’m not sure why I bothered to grab it, honestly.
: The Leather Belt boosts physical attack power by 2, but it’s not enough to make a difference.
: You see, there’s a save point up here. We actually need to clear this fight to progress.
: This is a battle against two Fat Thugs and a Thug that I immediately lose because I missed a Judgment Ring spin trying to get a strike and forgot to use my uh, “Handy Tools” beforehand.
: The reason I missed the strike is because if you do a Double attack, the red zone on the Ring becomes way smaller. Let’s compare this to Johnny’s normal attack ring.
: By the way, now that we’ve used Snap on the enemies, we can see their current/max HP and element. For reference, Johnny is Non-Elemental, which was usually reserved for Yuri’s ultimate fusions in the older games.
: We’ll learn in a few minutes why the door won’t open, and it makes Johnny look like an even bigger idiot than he already is.
: You’d think the answer to progress would be this big middle door I’ve been avoiding, but… no. It actually isn’t.
: The answer is that fighting those Thugs near the save point raises a plot flag that spawns another group of Thugs in the hallway on the far side of the stairs.
: One thing I want to show off is Johnny’s “I’m a whiny little bitch” pose at the start of battle.
: It’s funny how characters in Dark Souls can two-hand a knife and not look like a bitch, but Johnny just cannot pull that off.
: Johnny pops a critical on the last hit, which doesn’t matter but is nice anyway.
: The good news is that Johnny gets a fifth sanity point when he levels up. Unfortunately, the developers still had not figured out the technology necessary to increase your HP/MP by the amount you gain at level-up so you get the extra max HP/MP but your existing amount isn’t increased to fill the gap.
: Just behind where that encounter was is the door to our objective. What’s kinda funny is that you can come in here before you trigger the battle upstairs and this room is empty.
: “I finally found you! It’s not safe here, so let’s get back. Nancy’s looking for you.”
: “The fire escape?”
: And then we get into another three-enemy fight made slightly less shit by the fact that Johnny has 5 SP now instead of 4.
: “You aren’t to come here again, okay?”
: They’re not going to come here again until they can find some new thugs to inhabit the place. Johnny has singlehandedly ruined these kids’ shakedown racket.
: “Oh right. You said something about a fire escape?”
: “Jiggle it up a bit… I see.”
: Johnny is an idiot. I swear, I think he’s the only videogame protagonist I can think of who fails to open a door not because it’s locked, or barred, or one of those doors that don’t open from this side you see all the time in Dark Souls, but just because it’s slightly harder than average to open.
: I mean, I don’t think Shiroyabu is that much of an idiot, and he doesn’t know the difference between a mailman and a hitman.
: I like to think that she’s saying this in such a way that it’s incredibly obvious she’s making fun of him.
: We’ll do the boss fight next time, because there’s another load of cutscenes coming up. In the meantime, let me post the item descriptions for Johnny’s gear.
: With a knife like that, I’m not sure I want to know what kind of “household jobs” a family is doing, unless that family is the mafia because then I guess that item description makes sense.
: This is the battle theme for the entire first half of the game, and it’s actually pretty good.
: This is the background music for the theater, but there’s an opera track being played over it that isn’t anywhere on Youtube as far as I can tell.