10 Best Characters in Shadow Hearts: Covenant

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Developed for the PS2 by the now-dissolved Japanese studio Nautilus, Shadow Hearts: Covenant(or Shadow Hearts II in Japan) is the second installment in the Shadow Hearts saga.

It offers a complex RPG experience with an engaging story that sets itself apart with a unique setting and original take on the classic turn-based combat.

But Shadow Hearts: Covenant wasn’t just an exercise in uniqueness.

It’s also a great game with a solid story, carried along by a colorful cast of characters that stay with you for a long time after finishing your adventure.

In honor of a game that’s simply not discussed enough in modern platforms I’m sharing my picks for the 10 best playable characters from this JRPG classic.

10. Nicolas “Nicolai” Conrad

Nicolas Conrad in Shadow Hearts

First up we have Nicolai, a Cardinal sent by the Vatican to purge a small town of demons.

He’s actually one of the first characters you can play as in the game.

A killing smile, perfect hair, slightly overpowered moves… yes, for anyone with a tiny sliver of experience it’s obvious this guy isn’t in for the long haul.

He promptly leaves the party once it’s revealed he’s a member of Sapientes Gladio, the secret organization that’ll go on to become the main antagonists in the game.

He pretends to be a charmer but it’s all just a facade behind which ambition born of an inferiority complex hides its ugly face. Probably not the best guy in the world but still a decent time playing him in-game.

9. Veronica Vera

Veronica Vera in Shadow Hearts

No classic JRPG is complete without a dangerously sexy antagonist with a penchant for bondage and leather clothes.

Veronica may only be playable for a short amount of time, and only in the game’s Director’s Cut, but she is far too cool to leave out of the list.

In combat she’s like a dark version of Lucia, using a leather whip instead of a fan and her Aroma Oils to inflict ailments such as paralysis on any foes in battle.

8. Gepetto the Puppeteer

Gepetto the Puppeteer from Shadow Hearts

The archetypal lecherous old man is embodied in Shadow Hearts: Covenant by Gepetto, a puppeteer with steampunk vibes and real-world wisdom.

He’s with the party for most of the game, guiding and supporting them with his combat puppet Cornelia. Which he named after his deceased daughter. Which is charming and also very creepy.

Among his most memorable facets is his odd weapon system.

Both the strings he controls Cornelia with and the dresses she wears are separate items with their own impact in combat.

Considering her outfits include stuff like S&M leather suits and the like, it’s a tad disturbing to think the puppet is modeled after his late daughter.

7. Anastasia Romanov

Anastasia Romanov in Shadow Hearts

The mysterious and fabled daughter of Tsar Nicholas II also makes an appearance in Shadow Hearts: Covenant, this time as a young girl determined to save the Motherland from Grigori Rasputin(her father’s evil advisor).

She can function as a useful magician for your team by using crests, or fight with her over-sized Fabergé eggs.

But what’s really interesting about her is her camera. She can use it to reveal useful information about enemies, like their element, just by taking pictures. Pretty cool camera right?

On occasion the camera will also capture the essence of the monsters pictured.

This allows Anastasia to summon them and use their skills. All battles invite your Kodak!

6. Lucia

Lucia in Shadow Hearts

Lucia was trained from a young age to be a fortune teller and a dancer.

She’s the airhead of the team with a surprising lack of ability to read the mood for someone who makes a living reading people’s futures.

Her weapon of choice is a bladed fan and she can use her tarot reading arts to inflict random effects on the whole party.

They can be buffs and even double your money, but they could also cause all her teammates to die instantly if she pulls the wrong card.

Because of this it’s better to focus on her aromatherapy skills to heal and strengthen the party in battle.

5. Kurando Inugami

Kurando Inugami in Shadow Hearts

Like a shadow trailing behind his master, Kurando acts as a bodyguard for the Kawashima family until he’s sent on a mission to help Yuri’s party.

Put this Japanese warrior beside Anastasia and you can really appreciate the contrasting cultures present in this game.

He’s only playable for a brief time near the end of the game but he’s a fan favorite because of the value he brings to the team.

He can fuse his soul with that of demons to acquire their powers, much like Yuri, which makes him a force to be reckoned with.

4. Karin Koenig

Karin Koenig in Shadow Hearts

The female co-lead for Shadow Hearts: Covenant starts out as a German soldier tasked with investigating a mysterious village being protected by demons, and ends up traveling across Europe and Asia on a quest to save the world.

Her fighting style revolves around sabers and sword arts.

But she can also effectively use magic crests which makes her one of the most balanced members of the party.

As the game progresses you’ll see her develop as a character, as well as become romantically entangled with Yuri(minor spoiler alert!)

What becomes of that plot point… well, that’s a twist far too good for me to spoil. Play the game to find out more!

3. Joachim Valentine

Joachim Valentine in Shadow Hearts

A simple-minded bodybuilding pro-wrestler vampire with a heart of gold. That’s a mouthful!

His design is one of the coolest in the game, both in concept and aesthetics.

He’s also one of the very few LGBT+ characters in JRPGs back in the day whose sexuality wasn’t just there for comedic relief, but simply as a characteristic that made the character deeper.

He fights using any random item he can find that’s both big and heavy.

That can mean anything from a giant frozen tuna to a whole office building, complete with a tiny workforce.

His fighting style and stats are dependent on his Joachythm, which changes every couple of battles adding a lot of depth to this wrestling vampire.

An amazing character from all perspectives and one of the more memorable cast members.

2. Blanca

Blanca in Shadow Hearts

This magic wolf with face tattoos is, at the same time, too cool and too absurd not to rank this high on the list.

He can understand human language as magical wolves in JRPGs do, and he’s a solid magic user to boot.

Blanca can also fight other wolves in Wolf Bouts to improve his skills and gain new abilities.

He used to belong to Jeanne, a little girl who dies at the hands of Sapientes Gladios at the start of the game.

Her soul takes up residence inside Yuri’s which is probably the reason he’s so fond of him. And it’s why Yuri can understand what Blanca wants to say.

Who’s a good boy?

1. Yuri Hyuga

Yuri Hyuga in Shadow Hearts

I honestly wanted to give the doggy the first place in the ranking. But Yuri is just too pivotal to both the story and any competent team. He has to be in here at #1.

He’s the protagonist from the first game and he’s back for more in Covenant, complete with a redesign to ascend him to edge-lord status. He’s got the black clothes, he’s got the belts, he has red eyes, he’s got it all.

Now his irreverent personality is also backed up by his power to fuse with the souls of demons and borrow their power. That’s kind of an important bit.

Also his abilities are sealed by Nicolai at the beginning of the game but he doesn’t let that stop him from moving forward. By the end of the game he’s gotten them back and then some.

Truly a man who’s earned his place in the annals of JRPG history.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.