When most gamers think JRPG, they presume fantasy worlds filled with vibrant characters and or sci-fi rich tales of exploring new planets with a bunch of friends. However, the Shadow Heart series isn’t quite like this. While Shadow Hearts is indeed a fantasy based JRPG, there was one other concept that made it very different: horror. That’s right folks, while not a traditional idea of horror, Shadow Hearts was less about beautifully rich environments and more about dark and macabre themes where your team didn’t run out of magic to use but ran out of sanity as they continued to fight nightmarish creatures. Shadow Hearts’ different gameplay style didn’t stop there as it utilized a slew of other ideas such as making hits be based less on percentage and more on reflexes as you had a large ring—titled suitably as the Judgment Ring—that forced players to essentially play a mini game upon each attack to ensure they would do damage. Shadow Hearts was truly a JRPG that attempted to change the idea of what JRPGs could look like.
Now it’s clear as day we here at Honey’s Anime love the Shadow Hearts series. That’s why in the past we have found ourselves looking for similar games—just like you are now—to Shadow Hearts. Well your search ends here as Honey’s Anime has got your list. Welcome to our 6 Games Like Shadow Hearts recommendation list. Here you will find JRPGs that changed up the formula in their own ways and should appeal to you if you loved the great Shadow Hearts game as much as we did. Alright folks, sit back and scroll on down so we can begin this list of amazing games like Shadow Hearts together.
Similar Game to Shadow Hearts
- System: PS1
- Publisher: SNK (JP), Infogrames (INT)
- Developer: Sacnoth
- Release Dates: Dec 16, 1999
In the year 1898, a young woman named Koudelka Iasant finds herself drawn to a place called Nemeton thanks to her psychic powers. Once a beautiful mansion, Nemeton is now a horrible place with creatures and other monstrosities. Directly in the mansion, Koudelka must help others who have found themselves within Nemeton survive all while figuring out why she was drawn to this hellish place. Though Koudelka and her party may not like the answers that they arrive at as they learn the true fate that has been placed on them. Enter the world of Koudelka and begin a journey of survival in a place that harbors both death and magic.
For our first entry on our 6 Games Like Shadow Hearts list, we felt it was wise to start off with the precursor to Shadow Hearts in the form of Koudelka. Created by Hiroki Kikuta, Koudelka is a survival horror game with turn based RPG combat and gameplay. Players move on a grid-like map while attack monsters with various weapons and exploring a large mansion filled with nightmare inducing threats. While Koudelka is a very old game, it stands the test of time thanks to its incredible story and rare use of fusing horror and role-playing themes together. That’s why if you consider yourself a true fan of Shadow Hearts you need to pick up what many consider the first entry in the series known as Koudelka.
2. Skies of Arcadia
- System: Dreamcast, GameCube
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Overworks
- Release Dates: Oct 5, 2000
It’s time to get off the ground and head into the skies in Skies of Arcadia for the Dreamcast and GameCube. Players will embark in a world known as Arcadia where civilization has found life above the clouds. Vyse—a 17-year-old pirate of the skies—is about to go on his biggest journey ever alongside his close friend Aika and several others who will join his crew. Together Vyse and his team will discover ancient landscapes and find treasure of both material value and of the heart. However, as any pirate will say, their adventure will not be easy and will be fraught with dangers from other pirates and even a mystical force that could spell the end of all of humanity just like in the past…
While not a horror based game like Koudelka or Shadow Hearts, Skies of Arcadia is still an amazing JRPG. Considered by many to be one of the best JRPGs ever to be released, Skies of Arcadia mixes pirate themes with fantasy based ideals. Players will sail the skies with a rag tag team of heroes/pirates with gorgeous visuals—even by today’s standards—and tons of JRPG greatness. Skies of Arcadia truly is a legendary title and if you consider yourself an avid player of JRPGs you’re missing out if you haven’t tried it for yourself. Though be prepared to scour local game stores and online places as Skies of Arcadia isn’t an easy game to track down. It almost seems fitting it takes an adventure to find an adventure JRPG about pirates.
3. Wild Arms 3
- System: PS2, PS4 (PSN)
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment, Ubisoft (EU)
- Developer: Media Vision
- Release Dates: Mar 14, 2002
Fantasy and the wild west once more merge in Wild Arms 3. A group of drifters—warriors who fight using powerful weapons called ARMS—led by Virginia Maxwell are about to go on a long journey together. Their goals and missions may all be different but they will become united as they fight against various threats and enemies. What fate will befall Virginia and her crew? Find out in Wild Arms 3!
Wild Arms 3 is another entry in the long beloved series but was the first of the series to enter the PS2 platform. Players take control of Virginia, Gallows, Clive and a slew of other ARMS users as they face various threats big and small in this wild west inspired series. Similar to Shadow Hearts, Wild Arms 3 takes players into a world not seen too often in the JRPG scene and that makes for one truly unique gaming experience. Wild Arms 3 may have released in 2002 but with beautiful art, awesome turn based gameplay and a truly deep story it still holds up perfectly fine in the modern gaming age. Now then cowboy—or cowgirl—dust your PS2 systems off and go check out Wild Arms 3.
Any Game Like Shadow Hearts ?
4. Resonance of Fate
- System: PS3, Xbox 360
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: tri-Ace
- Release Dates: Jan 28, 2010
In an alternate Earth setting, humanity is facing an apocalypse setting. Pollution has grown so vast on Earth that the environment has begun to suffer. Earth, which used to be a healthy and habitable planet, is now directly killing humans left and right. With few options left humans create a large purification system known as Basel and begins building a new life around it. However, the pollution begins to worsen and humans are forced higher and higher up the tower they have begun to build. It doesn’t take long before certain groups begin to take advantage of living far above the pollution while other suffer near the base of the tower. Now a battle begins between those in power and those who wish to just adhere to a life of freedom.
Shadow Hearts might be a very different game but Resonance of Fate is an extremely different game thanks to several factors. Players take control of three characters-Zephyr, Leanne and Vashyron—and instead of using swords or magic like in most JRPGs, the players use guns and grenades. Each turn players can move their controlled characters and execute Matrix-like moves as they shoot guns into various enemies. Resonance of Fate uses a mixture of smart movements and luck to make for a truly unique gameplay experience. Resonance of Fate may have a very strange story—which is also similar to Shadow Hearts in that regard—but the gameplay is amazing and very action heavy, perfect for those who don’t enjoy minimal JRPG gameplay standards.
5. Lost Odyssey
- System: Xbox 360
- Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
- Developer: Mistwalker, Feelplus
- Release Dates: Dec 6, 2007
100 years of life may seem like a lot but for Kaim, it’s a drop in the bucket. Kaim has lived for 1000 years and continues living thanks to the both the blessing and curse of being an immortal being. However, Kaim hasn’t enjoyed a life of happiness as he suffers from amnesia and struggles to know what lies in his future. Meanwhile the world around is suffering from a powerful magic entity that if left unchecked, can destroy the world Kaim knows. Grabbing his sword, Kaim will go forth on a journey of both self-discovery and a means to save others as well as himself. Though Kaim won’t go on this mission alone as he will meet friends and close companions that may also have a means of unlocking his memories.
Lost Odyssey reminds us greatly of Shadow Hearts. Not only are both titles based attacks on a mixture of luck and skill but their stories have protagonists troubled with doubt and pain from their pasts. Lost Odyssey is a long adventure filled with beautiful landscapes, incredible—but challenging—fights and some great music. Lost Odyssey isn’t an easy game by any means which echoes Shadow Hearts’ sometimes ruthless gameplay so be prepared for a tough ride. If you’re a fan of Shadow Hearts but want a slightly less morbid story, then your best bet lies in Lost Odyssey for the Xbox 360. Come on, it’s developed by a handful of creators responsible for Final Fantasy and The Legend of Dragoon, that goes to show you Lost Odyssey is an epic title.
Lost Odyssey TV Spot (Official Trailer)
6. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne
- System: PS2, PSN
- Publisher: Atlus
- Developer: Atlus
- Release Dates: Feb 20, 2003
While visiting a sick teacher at the hospital, a strange event known as the Conception overtakes the world and sends the residents of Tokyo into a nightmarish sphere. Having survived an attack from a demon, our protagonist finds himself having to make a tough decision. If he wishes to have means of surviving then he must become a demi-fiend a mixture of a human and a demon combined. Going forth with this new power, the now demi-fiend protagonist must try to save his friends from the Conception’s horrible world and various threats all while possibly changing the landscape of not only Tokyo but the world through various actions and decisions. His high school days have come to an end and a new life of suffering starts now…
Horror themes, a troubled young man with a burden on his shoulders and a world of death and horrible demon like creatures, doesn’t this sound familiar? That’s right folks we felt it was a good choice to have the all too famous Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne appearing as the last entry on our 6 Games Like Shadow Hearts list. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne mirrors so many of the themes of the Shadow Hearts games with dark environments and tons of demons to fight. Just be forewarned that Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is easily one of the hardest JRPG titles around—even harder than our past Lost Odyssey entry above—meaning death will be all too quick to greet you over and over again. However, if you loved the eerier feeling seen in Shadow Hearts but want a more traditional JRPG in terms of gameplay mechanics, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is your best bet.
Shadow Hearts may have only been several games long but thanks to clever gameplay ideas and some genre changing gameplay mechanics, it has a special place in our hearts here at Honey’s Anime. Equally, a lot of the titles above are great titles themselves mirroring Shadow Hearts with unique innovate JRPG mechanics as well. Have you ever played any of the titles above or now desire to? Let us know in the comments down below and if you loved this list why not keep looking through our amazing site? Here at Honey’s Anime we have tons of game recommendation lists and articles for you to enjoy!