The Judgment Ring is a key gameplay element throughout the Shadow Hearts series. It is used for nearly every action in battle, and some actions outside of battle.
The Judgment Ring appears as a circle with one or more highlighted areas. There is a line that extends through the radius of the circle (The Sweeper) which starting from an upright position, sweeps 360 degrees within a set time limit. In that time period, the player must press x whenever the sweeper is over the highlighted area. If timed correctly, the selected action is carried out.
Attack Judgment Ring
When the player select “attack” from the command menu, the Judgment Ring will have between 1-5 Hit Areas (although in Shadow Hearts this is only ever 3). However many hit areas the player successfully hits in a row is how many hits the character will make on the enemy. The hit areas are coloured mostly orange with a slither of red at the far-most point. If the player hits within the red area the attack will do more damage.
Special Ability Judgment Ring
For a character to use a special ability or magic, a Judgment Ring will appears with several hit areas. If any of them are missed, the ability is not used. Often they are comprised of several green hit areas which do not affect the damage dealt, and one final orange-red hit area which acts like an attack hit area. Occasionally, special abilities activate with only one hit area.
Item Judgment Ring
When an item is used in battle, there is only one hit area for the use of an item to be successful. If the item affects a meter (such as Hp, MP or SP) or other statistic, it will be an orange-red hit area, where getting a perfect hit will increase the amount of healing done. If it is an item with set effect (such as curing a status ailment) the hit area will be green and can be hit anywhere.
Outside of Battle
Occasionally the Judgment Ring is used outside of battle. Most notably in shops – in order to get discount or a higher selling price, a Judgment Ring action must be performed. Another regular occasion is playing the lottery. The player presses x on the Judgment Ring where it eventually slows to a stop and can land of several items. Very rarely the Judgment Ring is used outside of battle to perform key tasks, or for side-quests.
The most frequent use of the Judgment Ring outside of battle is in the Lottery.
In Shadow Hearts, the first time the Ring of Judgment is mentioned in a story plot is whenever the party visit Nemeton Monastery. The Ruins of the Monastery are sealed by a door which is inscribed with the Judgment Ring. Roger is able to unseal the door and explains a little of the purpose and meaning behind the Judgment Ring itself.
Roger explains that the Judgment Ring is an illustration of the soul and the three points upon it represent:
In Shadow Hearts, a characters attack Judgment Ring can be permanently altered by using acupuncture. This can increase the size of the hit area.
There are several items in Shadow Hearts which temporarily affect the speed of the sweeper and the size of the hit area. This include:
In Battle Items
- Bronze Arrowhead – Doubles Hit Area (User)
- Bronze Dagger – Double Hit Area (Party)
- Fang of the Black Tortoise – Doubles Attack and Indicator Speed (User)
- Third/Fifth/Seventh Key – Allows 3/5/7 sweeps of the Attack Judgment Ring. The sweeps gradually get faster and if any hit area is missed, the sweeping stops. (For example, if you fail in the 2nd sweep it won’t continue to the 3rd/5th/7h sweep)
- Gold Hourglass – Slowers Sweeper Speed (party)
- Silver Hourglass – Halves Sweeper Speed (User)
- Horn of the Blue Dragon – Doubles Attack, Halves Hit Area (user)
- Kirin Scale – Doubles Hit Area, Halves Sweeper Speed (user)
- Phoenix Tail – Cures Judgment Ring Ailments
- Talon of the Red Phoenix – Attack Doubles, Sweeper Speed Doubles (Party)
- Monkey Paw – Attack Triples, Irregular Ring in Effect (User)
There are several accessories that can be worn by characters to have an affect on the Judgment Ring.
- Jade Lariat – Widens Hit Area
- Coral Lariat – Slows Down Sweeper speed
- Iron Clogs – Halves Sweeper speed
- Flash Badge – Doubles Sweeper speed
- Pocket Watch – Prevents Judgment Ring Abnormalities
- Mind’s Eye – Blind Judgment Ring
Judgment Ring Ailments
In Shadow Hearts there are several enemy attacks that can induce Judgment Ring Ailments (a kind of Status Abnormality) which make it harder for the player to successfully hit the Hit Area. These can be cured by using a Phoenix Tail (which has a very large hit area).
- Tight Ring (Reduces Hit Are Size)
- Fast Ring (Increases Sweeper Speed)
- Small Ring (Make the Judgment Ring Smaller)
- Reverse Ring (Reverses the Sweeper Direction)
- Invisible Ring (Hides the Hit Areas)
- Fake Ring (Hit Area shown is not real hit area)
- Random Ring (Randomises Sweeper Speed)
The Judgment Ring is described as “having the power to change the world”. In Shadow Hearts: Covenant, the Judgment Ring functions in the same manner as in Shadow Hearts. Differences include being able to customise each character’s Judgment Ring in the following ways via the menu:
- Number of Hit Areas (From 1-5, maxiumum hit areas differ per character)
- Width of Hit/Strike Area (Able to add/remove freely via equip, rather than permanent change via Acupuncture)
- Additional effects can be added (e.g. Seal, Evade Down, Poison etc.) on hit via items
- 4 Kinds of Judgment Ring to choose from
Speaking with the Ring Soul gives you more information about the Judgment Ring, as well as items to boost the Judgment Ring.
Types of Judgment Ring
There are 4 kinds of Judgment Ring available in Shadow Hearts: Covenant.
- Normal Ring: Similar to the Judgment Ring in Shadow Hearts. Missing a hit area stops the ring, and the number of attacks is determined by the hit area.
- Practice Ring: No Strike Areas. Missing a hit area does not stop the ring.
- Technical Ring: Smaller hit area, but increases attack. Missing a hit area negates the attack entirely.
- Gamble Ring: Only one hit area, increased speed. Hitting this area is as if all areas were hit on the normal ring.
Judgment Ring Items in Shadow Hearts: Covenant
Here are a list of Judgment Ring items and their functions.
- Attack Boost: Increases the number of hit areas
- Hit Area Expand: Increases the hit area of a single hit area on the Judgment Ring
- Strike Expand: Increases the strike area of a single hit area on the Judgment Ring
- Evasion Down 1: Adds “Evasion Down” effect to attacks (Low Chance)