Interview with Shadow Hearts Producer Brian Lowe
Shadow Hearts

RPGamer was fortunate enough to chat with Midway's Brian Lowe, producer of the upcoming PlayStation 2 RPG Shadow Hearts. The game was developed by Japanese developer Sacnoth, which previously worked on Koudelka for the PlayStation. Midway will be bringing the title to North America later next month.

RPGamer: What can you tell us about the characters and story of Shadow Hearts?

Brian Lowe: The Japanese Imperial Army is transporting a young girl named Alice Eliot, the daughter of an expert exorcist, to China on a train. Mr. Roger Bacon, a powerful magician, attempts to kidnap Alice believing that she is the key to his master plan to unlock ancient secrets that'll destroy the earth. Also on this train is Yuri, a young boy with the ability to morph into many creatures. Yuri, witnessing the attempted kidnap, rescues Alice and escapes with her.

The journey begins...the pursuit is on...and the story unfolds!

RPGamer: Can you describe the world in which Shadow Hearts takes place?

BL: Shadow Hearts starts in Rouen, France - circa 1913. As the pursuit starts, the player will be led through various locales all over Europe and Asia. What makes the world of Shadow Hearts unique is the cross pollination of magic and fantasy with that of technology and logic.

RPGamer: Can you describe the combat system?

BL: Shadow Hearts is an RPG turn-based game that combines Final Fantasy-style artwork with a unique battle system that is user controlled. Unlike typical RPGs where the battle is automated after selecting an action (i.e. attacking, casting spells, using items etc.), Shadow Hearts uses a partially shaded "timing wheel", or the Judgement Ring, that rotates around at a constant speed. The outcome of the event is solely dependent on where the user stops the rotating bar within the shaded area.

RPGamer: What types of monsters will the party encounter?

BL: As the player travels the land of Shadow Hearts, they will come in contact with seemingly normal denizens. As combat ensues, the inhabitants change into monsters best described as H.P. Lovecraft's worst vision - hideous monsters, powerful beings, and "things" from "other worlds." Think Call of Cthulu and you get the picture.

RPGamer: Do any of the characters from Koudelka return in Shadow Hearts?

BL: Roger Bacon returns in a most interesting way....

RPGamer: Mitsuda is known for using a wide variety of musical styles in any given project. Does his style mix well with the dark theme of the game?

BL: The music in Shadow Hearts is masterfully done. It works flawlessly with the theme of the game to enhance the mood and sense of adventure.

RPGamer: In Japan, Koudelka featured English voice acting with subtitles, to add authenticity to the setting. In keeping with this, can we expect to hear French and Chinese in Shadow Hearts?

BL: The voice over in the game will be strictly English, with subtitles in the translated languages.

RPGamer: Will Shadow Hearts feature any Side Quests/Mini-games that have become prevalent in so many of today's games?

BL: Shadow Hearts has 2 endings, the second of which can only be reached through a very long series of 'hidden'/'secret' quests. The gameplay can go in excess of 60 hours, leaving the player with more than enough to drive him forward. As for Mini-games, they do exist, and are integrated into the game quite cleverly.

We would like to thank Brian Lowe for taking the time to talk with us. Shadow Hearts is set to hit shelves across North America on the 11th of December. Stay tuned for more info ahead of the release and a full review when the title hits stores.

by Alex Wollenschlaeger    
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