Review by chandlerbing

"A re-review of a modern classic."

Truly one of the most underrated games of all times...

Koudelka is an RPG by with a theme that stays away from traditional RPG fantasy roots. This game focuses on the gothic theme primarily...something that hasn't been done in as much depth in RPG's before. What makes this RPG different from many of the rest is that it is not set in a make believe land or kingdom - It is set in Wales during the late 19th century. Set in a lonely (or not) monastery, the setting is classic to many gothic novels of the 18th and 19th centuries and pays tribute to those texts by bringing gothic elements to life in this unique and great game.

GAMEPLAY - 9
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Battle system - The battle system is turn-based but you can move towards or away from the enemy if you wish. So gun and magic users can stay at the back to attack with relative safety from any of the enemy's physical attacks. A downside to the battle sequence is that it is a tad bit on the slow side which may or may not irritate some people. Players who do not like their RPG's to be turn-based won't like Koudelka's battle system.

Statistics system - One major advantage of Koudelka is the statistics system. You are allowed to customize your character's statistics whenever they level up- ranging from Strength, agility, dexterity, luck and so much more so you can enable your characters to act the way YOU want them to act. You want the character Koudelka to be a physical fighter? Then raise her strength and dexterity. If you want her to be a magic user, then raise her intelligence and wisdom. This system makes this game so fun to play because it allows you the control to experiment. This system really makes 'Koudelka' come into its own, but It's a complete shame that the sequel 'Shadow Hearts' scraps this very neat and flexible system for a fixed, traditional level up system.

Weapons and Magic - There is a fair variety of weapons that you can equip. Each and every one can be levelled up as you make use of them more. This applies to magic also. Because of this levelling up system, you can apply distinct skills to each of the characters and develop them how you like. For example, you don't HAVE to make Koudelka specialize in magic, you can make her skilled in weaponry and more specifically in any piece of weaponry. What may annoy some players is the fact that weapons are prone to break after a number of uses and that any statistic bonuses you may gain from equipping these weapons are lost. But since weapons can always be dropped by monsters.

Characters - There are only 3 controllable characters in the entire game - Koudelka, Edward and James. But this is not a disadvantage however, because the character development is amazing and the attitudes of each and every one of them changes during the course of the game. The intrigue of the characters lies in their own personalities and in their own reasons for going to this haunted abbey.

GRAPHICS - 8
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The dark, gothic scenery in this game sets the ominous atmosphere of Koudelka very well. There is nowhere in this game that you could feel completely safe thanks to the effectiveness of the graphics to evoke that constant sense of lurking danger. The enemy design graphics are possibly some of the most original found in any RPGs and some are very grotesque-like indeed complementing the game's theme very neatly.

MUSIC/AUDIO - 8
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Unlike the Resident Evil games, the voice-actors in Koudelka are actually pretty decent. It is very interesting listening to the characters in this game make fun of another character rather than reading through written dialogue. There are many comic scenes in this game with characters shouting or sneer some sarcastic remarks at each other. There are virtually no background music but the cool, mythical style of the battle music complements the game very well.

DIFFICULTY - 6
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It's not a difficult game but it's not easy either. Depending on how you approach the game, you may find it hard or not-so-hard.

LENGTH - 4
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This is perhaps the let-down of the game. Most people may complete this in about 12-16 hours and is pretty puzzling how a game this short is 4 disks long. However, from what you play of it, you can be sure that the experience is fun.

REPLAY VALUE - 7
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Yes! Because of the excellent statistics system mentioned above, you can always find different ways to approach and play the game. Want to go for an all-magicians group or a no-magic users group? Want to go through the game with just one particular weapon? Go for it with the stats configuration. Customization in any game is rewarding in its own rights and this game is no different.

RENT OR BUY?
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This game can now be found at a cheap price so I suggest you buy it. It may be short but it is fun to pick up and play every now and then and you won't get bored. This is an excellent game overall despite some flaws. But the advantages outweighs the disadvantages so don't deprive yourself of this fine RPG so go out, buy it and play it. Nearly a year since my first review of this game and I still love it.

PRO'S

- Interesting plot and story line.
- Excellent voice-acting that enhances character interactions.
- Customization and statistics level-up system allows player freedom to do what you want.
- Strategic battle system.

CONS

- A very short game.
- Lacking in side quests.
- Battle speed is slow.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/26/01, Updated 07/24/02


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