Abandon Shipping: Happens to many Yuri/Karin shippers after they complete Covenant. (Long story short, thanks to time travel, she's his mother.)
Accidental Innuendo: Yuri in Covenant: "That's one big pussy." This is said to Andre, the giant pink cat, although Lucia standing with her legs spread wide right next to the cat didn't help.
Alternate Character Interpretation: The "good" ending of Covenant changes depending on whether you view it as Yuri meeting Alice in death after losing his soul to the Mistletoe or enacting a Stable Time Loop and getting a chance to start over to go for the ending where Alice lives. Japanese guides - and a line from From the New World where Roger Bacon has never seen a successful Emigre Manuscript ritual - tend to favor the latter.
Awesome Music: Soundtracks by Yoshitaka Hirota, with Yasunori Mitsuda guest-composing a few tracks on the first two games for extra added flavor. Since Hirota is almost unquestionably a disciple of Akira Yamaoka and Mitsuda needsnointroduction, Shadow Hearts' soundtrack manages to be both epic and skin-crawlingly creepy at the same time.
Even Better Sequel: The first Shadow Hearts game is widely considered a solid horror-tinted RPG, with an interesting combat system and a refreshing protagonist; Shadow Hearts:Covenant, while cutting back (a little) in the horror department, is considered by many fans to be the apex of the series and one of the best RPGs in history, improving upon almost every facet of what was already praised as good.
Fair for Its Day: Face it: most of the gay characters in Shadow Hearts are stereotypes whose interests are more than once played for comedy. That being said, Covenant's four major gay characters are also all heroic; Gerard (1) is your most frequent item shop even in places where he probably shouldn't be, Pierre (2) helps Gepetto with dresses that increase Cornelia's power, and The Great Gama (3) is a special teacher that gives Joachim (4) - a loyal and reasonable party member and one of your strongest physically - stronger moves to whoop-ass.
Foe Yay: Veronica and anyone she interacts with. Perhaps save for Joachim.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Margarete. This is Mata Hari we're talking about. Covenant is set in 1915. Anyone else remember what happened to the real one near the end of WWI? For those who don't know, the French executed her for spying.
In Covenant and From The New World, Energy Charge and Entrance spells (boosts Physical/Special Attack by 125-150%) can be utilized to deal tremendous damage when combined with general buff spells, the 'Technical Ring' system, and Lucia/Ricardo's 'Strike Bonus' boost effect.
If used properly, Lucia's Aromatherapy ability can make Shadow Hearts: Covenantmuch easier with the only drawback being it will effect everybody but her. While most of her Aromatherapy abilities are lackluster or somewhat useful, the one ability that really makes her stand out is her unique ability to increase the effectiveness of 'Strike' areas (increases effectiveness on many actions taken by 20% if hit) on the Judgement Ring by 50% for a turn. If one can consistently hit 'Strike' on buff spells, their effects are dramatically increased, and if combined with the 'Technical Ring', the results become godly. In the sequel, Lucia's successor Ricardo also retains this ability, and although it was nerfed to only increase the 'Strike' effect by 20%, it is still considered to be very useful.
The Double-Combo system that debuts in From The New World takes the optional and fairer Combo system from Covenant, and evolves it into a ruthless boss-killing system. To elaborate, the Stock and Combo system allows players to begin boosting their party's offensive capabilities with buff spells, and then begin spending Stock on the last turn to initiate the Double-Combo with multi-hit abilities. If the player is especially good at the Judgement Ring, it is possible to kill every boss in the game before the boss even has a chance to take their first turn.
Harsher in Hindsight: Karin's role in the plot after playing through Covenant. In sum: Karin, a German soldier, meets and falls in love with Yuri over the course of Covenant. If you make the right decisions, each of the characters is thrown back in time and Karin meets Yuri's father Ben Hyuga and marries him, reuniting with Yuri in a roundabout way by becoming his mother. Karin finally obtains what she wanted - to love and be with Yuri - in an unexpected but certainly not unwelcome way, only to die in front of a young Yuri's eyes before the events of the first Shadow Hearts ever happen. The Stable Time Loop also ensures that, of all the party members, Karin is the only one to die a true death as a result of the villain's plans if Yuri then proceeds to get the good ending from Shadow Hearts.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Urmnaf, Yuri's original name, is widely mocked for being complete nonsense that only vaguely resembles a Russian name. Makes you think Karin just picked whatever sounded Russian enough to her.
Ho Yay: Joachim with pretty much any other male character.
Pierre and Gerard Magimel in Covenant probably have this with themselves, but Gerard definitely has this towards the male party members. You'll see him more often than Pierre since he runs the shop, so count on some sort of comment any time he shows up.
Jerkass Woobie: While every game has Woobies who wind up becoming villains, From the New World takes this trope Up to Eleven - it's pretty clear that we're not supposed to sympathize with Lady or Killer at all... but all you know about Lady is what Shania told you, and Killer is his backstory. The more you learn about Lady, by the end, you will either feel like a complete ass for having killed her, or you will see it as Putting Lady out of her misery, earning both her and Killer a Redemption Equals Death.
Magnificent Bastard: Albert Simon. Everything from the start of Koudellka up to the final dungeon of Shadow Hearts is basically all part of Albert's plans. The shear level of his manipulative adaptation and back-up plans is nothing short of impressive. Even Yuri considers Albert the crème de la crème of villains.
Memetic Badass: Yuri. A lot of Shadow Hearts fans hold him up as one of the toughest protagonists in the RPG genre. It helps that Albert Simon's soul confesses in Covenant that Yuri's plan to go after Rasputin would do better than his and Yuri's might actually succeed where his failed, considering the Magnificent Bastard status Albert holds.
Narm: Shadow Hearts had the backstory from the ghost girl that was supposed to be creepy. However, the horrible English voice acting makes it hilarious with the old woman repeatedly telling the cast the exact screams the girl made.
In the first Shadow Hearts game, to do anything, you need to press the action button at the right time three times. Anything. This includes attacking, spell casting, using an item, searching a place for an item that's right in sight. And would you believe this very same mechanic somehow wasn't horrible in the sequels?
Hildegarde's Calorie Meter in From the New World is an utter bitch to work, unless you have rare accessories, that hasten the process, equipped or is willing to expend rare, irreplaceable items. To make things worse, she can only obtain new skills by talking to certain NPC's while being on a specific form.
Shipping: Given how beloved Yuri and Alice were, some fans were upset when it appeared that Karin was going to be Yuri's new love interest in Covenant. Turns out they had nothing to worry about, when it's revealed that Karin is Yuri's mother, and that Yuri and Alice eventually ended up back together again if one follows the canon Shadow Hearts Bad Ending > Shadow Hearts Covenant Good Ending > Shadow Hearts Good Ending scenario.
On the other side, some fans were upset that Yuri and Karin didn't end up together as they appeared to complement one another really well.
Strangled by the Red String: Anastasia and Kurando appears to be entirely one sided for the greater part of the game. Anastasia develops a crush on Kurando the moment she meets him, obsesses over him and even gets engaged to him behind his back, thanks to his mother. While Kurando does warm up to Anastasia throughout their journey, we don't really get to see what his feelings are for her. The ending heavily suggests that they will end up together, given that both of their wishes seemed to be about staying together. While a sweet relationship, it feels very forced on Kurando's part due to his lack of screen time, and would definitely be frowned upon if their genders were switched.
Her attraction to him isn't especially squicky until it's revealed that she is stalking him through time itself to be with him as a child. Assuming she retains her memories after the time travel (debatable), that's one messed-up family.
Any status-effect inflicting magic, like instant death and petrifaction, that target the whole party. Judgement Ring status-effect are even worse as they can, among other things, speed up the indicator or make the hit area invisible.
In From The New World both strongest Bonus Boss and Final Boss use the move called Lost Progress. This move removes any buffs your group has. This is already bad enough, but both bosses use this as a counter immediately after anyone uses a buff, and they get an immediate extra turn to wreck you further.
Malice Killer from the third game. His normal attack cause Instant Death, and his area-based one deal heavy damage to the whole party. On top of that, Killer can inflict "Seal status", blocking the use of magic, and cast powerful fire spells that reset your characters Stock Gauge, preventing Combos and Double attacks.
The Final Boss from the same game is also quite brutal, especially in comparison to Malice Gilbert which was a bit of an Anti-Climax Boss. Like in Covenant, it is a multi-target fight... but unlike in Covenant where everything else was at best an annoyance, both targets alone are dangerous. Both Lady and Malice Umbral will unleash powerful attacks that hit the entire party at once. What's more, they are all multi-hitting and both targets can act one after the other and chain their attacks together and turn the bonus damage mechanic against you, compounded with the fact that they might cast Entrance on each other. The only mercy that the game throws at you is on occasion, one of them will attempt to cast an easily blockable Ring Abnormality on you and that you only need to kill one of them.
The Temple Ruins, from the first Shadow Hearts. It's a labyrinth of Cut-and-Paste Environments, where the party is split in two and cannot use magic and/or items during battles. It also has many empty treasure chests and dead ends.
Neam Ruins is a very very long dungeon that often requires you to move to very very specific areas that're hard to describe, and it gained a pretty bad reputation of being one of the worst dungeons known to mankind. (To the point where navigating it was one of the first video walkthroughs widely posted - this was Pre-You Tube.) The only act of mercy is the fact that this is a Brutal Bonus Level and therefore optional... unless you want the items within, Anastasia's Euthanasia ability, and the other Eternal Key.
From the New World has Machu Picchu, where you need to solve puzzles while dealing with load of random encounters and searching for items. The first part consist of activating colored pedestals in a specific certain order to unlock doors and advance; afterwards, there is another puzzle involving colored flames. If you missed an item and have to revisit the dungeon, expect to do the puzzles again.
Nicolai in Covenant. Revelations about his character with Rasputin reveals that he is Tsar Nicolas's bastard, and is using Kato to take over Russia from Rasputin's hand. Instead, once they get to Japan, Nicolai is tortured, Astaroth takes over, and he is killed by Kato. In particular, there's no dialogue with his own sister, Anastasia.
Karin herself also qualifies. She is introduced as a Decoy Protagonist who initially assists Nicolai in his quest before his betrayal and killing of her men, and afterwards is immediately replaced by Yuri, the hero from the first game, for the rest of the story. Karin herself is given no backstory and no motivation to join Yuri in his quest besides being set up as his second-love interest after the death of Alice, and her background as a former lieutenant on the run is never explored again. If it weren't for the end-game twist that reveals that Karin goes back in time and becomes Yuri's mom, Karin could easily have been written out of the story altogether.
Kurando is the final character to be added to the party in Covenant, and his introduction ends up being more about the Kawashimas. His backstory ends up being more about Yuri and the Harmonixer bloodline than himself. He's the only other Harmonixer that Yuri has met outside of his own father, he's Yuri's cousin, yet the two barely interact with one another. Kurando's main purpose seems to be the love interest for Anastasia, and even that can appear one-sided given that Kurando doesn't really get the chance to show how he feels about Anastasia in return though the ending does imply that he has feelings for her.
Zhuzhen is a decent mage, and the only party member who can reliably hit all non-Light elemental classes, but after Keith joins, Margarete rejoins, and Halley is required for the next two dungeons, he often hits the bench.
Alice for simply being too good at her job. While other characters like Zhuzhen and even Halley can heal, Alice is the best equipped for it.
Gepetto from Covenant has the highest magical attack power in the game and can boost his elemental power with Cordelia's dresses. Unfortunately for him, Lucia and Anastasia are both much faster than him and can bring a lot more utility to the table via their Aromatherapy and Snapshot related skills. The crest magic system also allows anyone to have access to support and healing spells, which makes using him later-game a harder sell.
Hildegard from From the New World, due mostly to her Scrappy Mechanic. She is far from a useless character as From the New World is fairly well balanced, it's just that her abilities make her suffer.
Tough Act to Follow: From the New World had the daunting task to be the sequel to Covenant, while the game is far from mediocre, not having Yuri, among other things, have made fans of the series a bit unhappy with it.
Averted because of the stylized characters (Rasputin looks like a cartoon villain), but in Covenant, there's the "Miracle" scene in which, for once, the Uncanny Valley turns out to be more funny than creepy, because Yuri tries to make a sad face...but it looks so ridiculous some people who would have cried at that scene suddenly found themselves stifling back laughter. This has become a very minor meme in itself.
Played straight with most enemies. Such as the boss from Covenant that is a giant spider with human fingers for legs and mandibles, a human nose placed in the middle of it's head, and a realistic human mouth with teeth and lips.
In the first Shadow Hearts, paying Meiyuan to upgrading your weapons is pointless, as you can just wait to buy new equipment in the next town. The only time it is worth it is when everyone have their ultimate weapons, but it's still very expensive.
Level up enough, and the Sanity Points system eventually becomes this for the rest of the game. Early on in the game where most characters are at a lower level, the player will sometimes need to keep an eye on their SP and prevent a character from going Berserk, an ailment that causes the combatant to lose control and use random actions for the duration of the battle, and gain no EXP, unless they are cured beforehand. The more the player levels up their characters, the more likely future battles will be over long before any character is at risk of going Berserk ever again, especially when considering that everyone's SP is fully restored after every battle.
A Malice mechanic is alluded to in Covenant, but, like its apparent plot significance, never comes up in-game.
The vampires mechanics in Covenant and From The New World can feel this way too, if only because of how little the game mentions them or how utilizing it often uses rare and/or expensive in-game items.
From The New World explains "Will" as the good counterpart to Malice, and it's explained that too much Will is as bad as too much Malice. But there is no gameplay mechanic about Will or Malice.
Mao in From the New World, namely due to the Crossdressing Voices in the English version. In the Japanese version of From the New World, Mao is voiced by Kujira, who is definitely a woman. She sounds very similar to Orochimaru, though.
Halley, thanks to his Gender-Blender Name, longish hair, and slender figure. It gets cleared up pretty quickly for those who actually play the game.
Funnily enough his friend, Chris, is often mistaken for a boy due to her androgynous profile picture, sturdy build and boyish fashion sense.
Wasted Song: "Holy Body", which plays whenever you run out of SP during a Spirit fight in From the New World. Given the circumstances, it's highly unlikely you will ever hear it.
Alice from the first game. Her father is murdered in front of her, people slaughter just to get a hold of her, she's tortured by Dehuai, and ultimately gets her soul killed so she can save Yuri.
Edna from the third game. A sweet, bubbly flapper girl who hot for Ricardo and deeply cares for her brother, Al Capone. She's lusted after by McManus, then kidnapped then shot, only to be brought back by Lady via the Kiss of Malice. This leads her to kill when she loses control of herself, and eventually she begs Ricardo to kill her. This firmly leads Ricardo into Woobie territory as well.
Anastasia's family is being gaslighted by Rasputin, and he is easily able to turn them against her by using mind control to make it look as if she's going to stab her little brother. Anastasia has no other choice than to run away with Yuri and the rest of the party, even though she knows Rasputin is pure evil, and that both her family and all of Russia is in danger. Anastasia's mother is particularly cold towards her even before the incident with Alexei. While things do eventually turn around for Anastasia, she's still a pampered fourteen year old girl thrown into a world she knows little about.