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Koudelka (PS)

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  • Mix of genres doesn't quite come off
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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    5 Reviews
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      13.01.2011 03:03
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      A hidden gem of a game. Hardly anyone noticed it but it's well worth a play through

      I picked up Koudelka for a fiver in a preowned sale bin, I wasn't expecting wonders but goodness was I surprised. I took to it pretty quickly and it is now one of my favourite games.

      Even before we had the wonders of the Playstation 2 and 3 the graphics of this Playstation game are not brilliant. The movie scenes sport the best of the graphics but even they aren't fantastic. The voice acting is not the best but I wouldn't say any of this put me off. In terms of gameplay it feels a bit like the original Resident Evil but without the zombies, instead the game supports a random battle system much like Final Fantasy. Some friends of mine have said that the repeated soundtrack for battles got a bit tiresome after a while, and while I did think that the music was not suited to a battle situation I enjoyed it.

      I was surprised at how good the storyline was. You play as Koudelka Iasant, a medium drawn to an abandoned abbey in Aberystwyth. There she meets a traveller Edward and a priest James and together they explore the abbey revealing its horrific secrets. I don't want to give away too much of the plot but what develops is certainly interesting on many levels. What impressed me was that every character had a backstory, not just the three you play as but the few characters you meet in the game.
      While the game is linear there are opportunities to explore secret areas to find additional story details that while not necessary to finish the game are nonetheless completely worth finding.
      Some of the readable items in the game make for surprisingly poignant reading. Most games of this type contain little snippets left behind by now deceased characters, diaries and such the like but the amount of thought that has gone into some of them is really, quite impressive.

      But as much as I love Koudelka I won't ignore the bad points. The turn based boss battles start out simple enough, but once you get onto the second disc they start to get insanely difficult. Some of them have no weaknesses or at least weaknesses that you spend far too long trying to figure out, during which time you get into that age old trap of having to heal all of your characters just to survive the next turn. An added dimension to the battles is that you can move your characters to different distances to the boss allowing your stronger characters to protect your weaker ones in particular fights. This works particularly well if you have two very physical characters to get to work on the boss while your magic guy hangs back to heal. But some of the bosses are frustrating to the point where the game stops being fun.

      The other issue, and this can be a major issue. It certainly was for me. In the introductory sequence you see a pendant fall from Koudelka's neck, there is nothing to suggest this item is particularly important and you can easily miss picking it up later in the game. But if you don't pick up this seemingly inconsequential item then you will automatically die before the final boss battle and get a swift game over, unable to fight the last boss or see the ending sequence. Added to this the save function limiting your saves (you save at save points spread throughout the game or temporary saves but are limited to one temporary save per memory card) it is very likely that you will not have a save file far back enough to be able to pick up the item. Once you hit disc 4 you cannot explore the abbey, if you have not picked up the item by this point then you simply cannot complete the game which is probably the most ridiculous addition to a game ever and incredibly annoying. You simply have to start the game again and hope you don't repeat your mistake. I think it very poor that the final boss fight would hinge on an item to which no significance is drawn and if you fail to notice it then you have to start the entire game again (all 4 discs of it).

      Items are difficult to see in the game, but Koudelka turns her head in the direction of an item in any room to help you out. Of course sometimes this just means you'll look in the same place pressing 'X' repeatedly hoping to pick something up because something might be there rather than because you can see it. The accessories and weapons you pick up are pretty good, every weapon has a different affinity which can affect all of your attributes. Though I enjoyed the wide range of affinities for weapons there is little to suggest what monsters are weak against which type and there is quite a lot of trial and error, especially when you have something like 'Light' weapons which heal everything they touch.

      On the whole I strongly recommend this game, even though it may look like there are more negatives than positives the storyline is well worth it. It might have slipped under the radar but it really is a gem of a game, with a nicely spooky setting and some genuinely creepy moments. Just be prepared for some very long battles!

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        08.09.2008 16:32
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        Great gothic action

        Koudelka is a roll playing game for the Playstation 1 which was developed by Sacnoth and released in 2000. This is a single player game with four disks, rated a 15+ and has the compatibility of the vibration function. This game is a mix of Resident Evil mixed with Final fantasy, the scenery and fear factor of Resident evil and the battle and stat levelling up of the final fantasy series.

        Plot: "Wales, Great Briton, 1898. A group of three characters, including the beautiful medium Koudelka are drawn to the mysterious Nemeton monastery. The dark, deserted and foreboding place keeps within its walls a secret mystery of witch craft and sorcery" quoted from the instruction book. Koudelka (a medium that wields swords and other bludgeoning weapons) is a gypsy girl that has been troubled by visions of the monastery and has come to investigate. Edward (a gun sling young man) is there because he heard rumours and came to investigate and James (a Bishop wielding clubs and axes) was sent there by his coven. You have to uncover the secret past of the monastery and survive to put the monsters to rest.

        Game play: The game is set in the third person, where you see the lay out of the area you're in and you move around solving puzzles and running into enemies. There is a map you can use to know where all the doors are in that room and where to go. You can interact with the scenery and find hidden item, move objects for the puzzle side of the game and open doors leading to the next areas.

        Battle: The battle system consists of a turn based design on a grid section floor (for the movement around the battle scene). Each time it's your turn you can do a series of commands, move, action (physical attacks, items and magic healing or offensive), wait and check your status. How ever, you can only do two commands per turn and each one only once, I.E. Attack then move or heal then wait and you can't attack then attack.

        The graphics are really good, the FMV's are great from the monsters to the people, and the game play is over average a little blocky at times. This game is classed as rare and going for an average of £10.00 but you can get cheaper. With a self proclaimed title of Koudelka the sexiest gothic horror RPG on playstation it does grip you into the story the music and FMV's add to this. Very original game it's a great play and recommended to anyone who likes RPG's.
        You can view a trailer at: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Ji9BlS2vHqs

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        24.06.2003 23:40
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        • "Mix of genres doesn't quite come off"

        It's 2000 and the selective hype-machine that is the video game media are getting excited about this dark, tricky-to-pronounce project (Infogrammes were also said to have mis-spelt it on a press release!) from the now defunct SNK. Koudelka is the cross-breed of what are probably the two least likely to meet genres on the PlayStation - survival horror and RPG. So it's sort like a cross between Resident Evil and Final Fantasy then? Well, no. It's...just Koudelka really. The game is set in late-19th century Wales (points for originality already!) where you take control of Welsh born femme fatale Koudelka Iasant (having lived in Wales for ten years, I can safely say I've never heard of a Koudleka!). Koudelka is summoned to a creepy monestary, where she must investigate ghostly apperances and odd behaviour from the few human inhabitants. She is not alone in her quest however as she meets Edward, a 'consummate egotist' and James, a paranoid, fifty-something bishop (what a bunch) who decide to join her in her search. Koudelka is a pretty good quest, but never seems sure as to whether it should follow more of a horror-orientated path or role-playing, and ends up feeling a little lukewarm in both. The two genres often seem to contradict each others plans, for example the horror element wants to provide tense and scary situations, which the gothic surroundings are ideally suited to, but as in many RPG's the battles appear randomly and you are never rushed in to making quick decisions - all the tension that may have been building simply evaporates. Worse still, as you can never actually see an enemy in the field (field is not in battle) everywhere feels sparse and empty. This is a real pity because the rooms are rather well designed. Koudelka describes itself as 'the sexiest gothic horror RPG on PlayStation', and whilst to my knowledge there were no other 'sexy gothic horror RPG's on PlayStation
        9; at the time, who am I to argue? The game is littered with glorious full motion video (FMV) clips and the in-game visuals are are detailed, smooth and suitably dingy. The character animation is pretty good, but the naff monsters let the side down a little. I know that many people will think the acting is pretty pants, but in the survival horror genre beggars can't be choosers - I mean, at least in Koudelka they don't actually try to act badly like in Silent Hill and the infamous opening scene of Resident Evil! Exploring involves solving some genuinely tricky puzzles and riddles, as well as the usual find-the-key-to-the-locked-door scenario. This would be more enjoyable if it wasn't broken-up by constant battles - sometimes you'll even forget what you are looking for because of the interuptions. Now to the games only real downfall - the battle system. Your characters are placed on a grid-floor and can move a few spaces per move and perform physical attacks or use magic, and then the enemies take their turn. Much like in many RPG's with turn-based fights, weapons can be upgraded, magic expanded and characters 'levels' increased, with the added bonus of getting to choose what parts of each character benefit most - such as incresing their strength, vitality, luck etc. The trouble is, the battles are excruciatingly long and often very dull, and as you only ever fight in one arena, things get repetitive very quickly. Boss battles have often taken me more than half an hour! The fact that the game is spread across four discs may decieve you into thinking that it is totally epic in scale. Plenty of FMV's and high-quality graphics take much of the space and I was utterly gob-smacked when I polished off the first disc within an hour of putting it in the console. The game recovers well though - the second disc took me around eighteen times longer to finish than the first, and if you wish to play through to th
        e end, it should last around thirty to thirty-five hours, which is fairly respectable for a game of its type. Koudelka is a highly original and very brave release, its storyline and mixture of genres are intriguing, it looks slick and lasts awhile. However, it lacks the fun that is required to hold many gamers attentions and the combination of drawn out battles and taxing puzzles will frequently bog-down the player. Hardcore RPG fans should find something to like but you will need a fair bit of patience ot get the best out of this. A mixed bag.

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          04.02.2001 02:37
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          As with many RPG's, this is designed by Japanese company SNK. The first thought that struck me was that the game bears the same resemblance to the Resident Evil series, only without the quick wits and action needed. This is what I like about the game. I much prefer to think through my actions rather than having to think on the spur of the moment. This gives Koudelka a great strategic theme, but some might say that the game is a bit too strategic and battles will, ultimately, take hours to complete. However, I think this just adds to the longevity of the game The game stars 3 main characters, which are basically a magic user, a fighter and the last is a mixture of the two. Each character has a unique personality which adds to the atmosphere of the game. The array of enemies to fight range from giant cockroaches to flying chairs. The 'tribal' type music played during each battle sequence really got me absorbed into the game and you'd want to fight a battle just to hear it. Besides this, the games' graphics are gorgeous, depicting every horrific detail in the game. The FMV sequences are also splendid, and to add to this, there are different endings to the game, depending on your actions. You would have to play through the game twice to really get involved. I loved this game, but admittedly, as with many things, it isn't something for everyone.

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          19.12.2000 21:52
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          I've got to start by saying that I love RPGs. I even love uninvolving, linear-pathed Japanese RPGs. But, despite this, I despised 'Koudelka'. The reasons for this are multiple – from the frustrating and exceptionally tedious combat system, to the dreadful voice acting, from the poor game design to the poor realisation of the graphics. There are a few redeeming features, such as the system for improving your characters when they increase in levels, and the Gothic horror setting, but the negative features of the game heavily outweigh these. The game is set in Aberystwyth, Wales in 1898 (or, if several online American game guides are to be believed, "Wales, England"). Three characters, the medium Koudelka, the thief Edward, and the priest James ("I'm on a mission from God!"), find themselves inexplicably drawn to mysterious Nemeton monastery. That's pretty much all you know at the beginning of the game... and that's almost the whole plot actually, at least, as far as I've bothered to investigate – thank God you can skip the FMV sequences with the START button... Seriously though, as you explore the monastery, you meet the bizarre caretakers, and the spirit of a dead girl, who each enthusiastically tell you tales of their pasts as though you could give a damn. That's assuming you can actually make out what the spirit of the dead girl's actually saying, the voice effects they've applied to her voice make it almost entirely impossible to make out words from the echoing noise. This aside, the FMV sequences really aren't that impressive either – they are quite jerky, and often polygons, which should be behind others, appear to jump in front for a few frames. Now while I'm prepared to accept this to some extent with in-game graphics, to see this happen in FMV sequences smacks of poor attention to game design. The basic gameplay is very reminiscent of the Resident
          Evil series of games – you move your 3D sprite around on a pre-rendered backdrop. The first problem I encountered was with the control system – it's an intuitive-sounding push up to move into the screen, push left to move left, etc. system, rather than the left and right rotate, up and down move forwards and backwards system. Maybe it's just because I'm used to the latter system from the Resident Evil series, but at times, I found the control system inconvenient. However, this is a very minor issue. The biggest problem is that unlike Resident Evil, you can't see when you're going to be attacked by something, because creatures don't appear on the pre-rendered backdrop. Instead, combat occurs at random, so while you're walking along, you can suddenly find yourself involved in a combat that you can't escape from. Yes, there's no option to run from combat – an unusual omission from an RPG, you might be thinking, and generally one which I wouldn't notice. However, in 'Koudelka', combat is so tedious and frustrating, I found myself crying out for the option to run. Basically, combat in 'Koudelka' has been modelled on the Final Fantasy series of games, but Infogrames have introduced their own features. It's a turn based system, with each character allowed to "Attack" and "Move" each turn – though obviously, you can choose to "Wait" instead of performing either of these. Battles occur on a grid, and in order to engage in close combat, you need to first move your character close to the creature(s). Unfortunately, due to the way combat is designed there's no option to rush in, attack, and then run away again. The word "Attack" is used pretty ambiguously in 'Koudelka' too. "Attack" options include the obvious options of attacking with a weapon and using magic, as well as the less offensive use of items and changing
          weapons. That's right, changing weapons during combat counts as an attack. Again, not a major issue you'd have thought, but given the frequency with which weapons break in 'Koudelka', it's one which will really irritate. Yes, close combat weapons break after just a handful of combats most of the time, and the only way to get new weapons is from certain battles during the game. In other words, if you're seeking to gain experience points for your characters, the only sensible way to achieve this is by using magic during combat, since that's more easily renewable than weapons. Having said that, even magic isn't entirely renewable, when you run out of magic points, the only way to restore them is to use potions labelled "Telis", of which there are only a finite number in the game. It isn't possible to rest your characters, as in other RPGs, to restore health and magic points. Oh, and if you should persevere with the game long enough for your characters to increase a level in spellcasting, the number of magic points required to cast the next level of spells is vastly increased, whereas the effectiveness of the spells really doesn't increase much. Plus, there's no option to cast the lower level spell anymore. As if all this wasn't enough, combat is made vastly more tedious by the fact that during battles, the game continually has to load animations from the disc – so every single move is accompanied by an unnecessary and irritating wait. In fact, this is a problem that the whole game suffers from, with the result that just walking about is incredibly boring. Add to this the tedium of frequent random combats, and you get an idea of how hellish a game of 'Koudelka' really is. As I mentioned earlier, the basic design of the game is quite nice, but spoiled completely by the disastrous realisation. When your characters gain enough experience to go up a level, you are given 4 bonu
          s points to distribute between your characters' eight attributes. Adding a point to your vitality attribute, for example, adds to your maximum number of hit points. Adding a point to your intelligence increases the effectiveness of your magic. And so on. This works pretty well, and is probably the best role playing innovation in the game. The game comes on four discs, and I only got to the second disc before giving up. I may go back to it, but I doubt it. The reason I gave up was that having spent only two-and-a-half hours to complete the first disc, I then spent an hour-and-a-half in the first room of the second disc. Why? Because the game failed to recognise my characters entering the area of the room leading to the next major battle – several times, meaning that I ended up undertaking several unnecessary and tedious random battles... which was far from rewarding gameplay. After checking an FAQ, and yes, I wasn't doing anything wrong, I eventually managed to trigger the major battle. But, by this stage, I'd broken all my close combat weapons, and had relatively few magic points left, so I barely managed to complete this battle... and needless to say the battle itself was astonishingly long and tedious. Overall, 'Koudelka' is a nice idea, astonishingly badly presented and realised. It's tedious and frustrating to play, the story's uninvolving, and even the graphics aren't that great. If you're looking for a role playing game to tide you over until Final Fantasy 9 is released, look elsewhere!

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