The battle system in this game is still pretty much the same as the first Shadow Hearts, but that's a good thing. It's a basic turned based combat system with a twist: something known as the Judgement Ring is used to decided how powerful your attacks will be. This offers a little bit of excitement to the game over the traditional RPG systems. There are however quite a few upgrades to this system over the previous installment. Such as you can now control four members at a time, Combo's are introduced, and you can build up your Judgement Ring to get more hits per turn. Anyhow this page is here to help you get familiar with Shadow Hearts: Covenant's battle system. Though, remember, the best learning might be from just simply playing the game, so make sure you try it out. Those familiar with RPG's in general shouldn't have much difficulty adjusting.
You'll be thrown into battle randomly on the maps of certain areas. Mostly the only areas that do not contain enemy encounters are towns. When you are put into battle it'll be on a seperate screen than the gameplay field. In a battle the characters and monster will line up in a certain fashion. One by one you will all take turns depending on how fast their movement is. Whenever one of the characters gets a turn a small box with a list of the available commands will display. For an example: Karin. She will have the commands Attack, Sword Arts, Crest Magic, Items, Defend, Combo, and Run Away.
When attacking there are a few more options. You can attack an enemy a certain way such as normal or a hard hit. Hard hit will hit the enemies a bit harder and throw them backwards on the screen which can as a result block the enemy from doing a Combo. The other hits, besides normal tend to sometimes have a longer recover time, so make sure to use them wisely!
After you select an attack, the Judgement Ring will come up. It'll rotate clockwise (normally, unless a character is infected with a right status abnormality.) Your goal is to hit all the orange areas once in order to successfully land your attack. However, if you do hit the small areas of red, it will make your attack more powerful and even sometimes land critical hits.
Depending on your character, and how much you've built them up, you could have one to seven attack areas to try to hit. If your character successfully hits two areas out of five on the Judgement Ring, then they will attack twice. The same with three - hit three and they'll attack three times. However if you miss one the rest of the areas after it become null. Also if you miss the very first one, you do not attack at all.
Spells, however, do not work that way. In order to land a special attack or crest magic you MUST hit all areas! Special abilities are explained in their appropriate section, so make sure to check it out!
Something new as earlier mentioned, and a great addition at that, is the use of Combo Attacks. Have your character select "Combo" from the menu. They'll then need to select a character they want to perform a combo with from the list. Your character will move by the other one after it is selected. You'll then need to wait for their next turn to perform it. However if you get hit hard by an enemy and it throws you back it will cancel the combo.
When performing a combo you can select anything from your list. For example, selecting attack- You must hit all areas in the Judgement Ring to make the combo effective! If you do so an area will come up telling you that you'll need to hit a certain button quickly in order to allow the next member in the combo chain to attack. Press the button it says and the turn of the next character will come up. Have them attack. If they do it successfully then the combo has been a success and has caused extra damage to the opponent!
You may have all of your characters in on your combo chain. It might be difficult to do, but the last character will be able to use a special skill called "Combo Magic". It generally takes 60 MP to perform, so make sure the last character has enough to use it! Combo Magic varies in elements, and won't tell you what it is until you've used it once.
Athough it's pretty much the same in every RPG, just in casecase you have questions about what stat does what, the list below should help you out!
HP - The life of the character. If HP reaches 0 they will be knocked out and cannot battle anymore. If all characters in your party reach 0 HP it will be game over.
MP - Mana points allow you to use Special Skills and Crest Magic. If the points reach 0 you'll need to recover them before you are able to use anymore skills.
SP - Sanity points. Each character has a set amount which will slowly grow as the game progresses. If a character reaches 0 SP they will become beserk and you will no longer be able to control them for a couple turns.
That's basically it for the basics of the battle system. Have fun playing around!