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Koudelka

This game takes place in a gothic monastery, named Nemeton, in old time England. You begin by watching a beautiful cinematic featuring the lovely and talented main character of the game, Koudelka Iasant. She is a young woman who has been mysteriously summoned to this place of decay by the voice of a single ghost amongst the very many at this dank, strange site. As Koudelka, you will try to unravel the mysteries of the monastery and attempt to peel back the flesh of its gloomy and gruesome past.

Early on, in fact as soon as the opening cinematic ends and you battle one of the many monsters, you are joined by Edward Plunket, a young ne’er-do-well seeking legendary treasure from the old monastery. Later on in the game you are joined by James O’Flaherty, a very religious, although not entirely wholesome, bishop who has been sent to the monastery on a mission from the Vatican. Both these figures are instrumental in many ways for you to complete your journey on the path of enlightenment.

I was drawn into the plot on so many levels. The acting, which I will talk about later, the graphics and cut scenes, and the storyline really drag you into this world. The suspense and horror of the mystery were very entertaining in the same way that Silent Hill was. Every little detail of that side of the game was tremendous. Every noise and visual added to the atmosphere of dread and apprehension.

I cannot stress how breathtaking the CG movies and in-game cut scenes are in Koudelka. They have taken the setting and greatly expanded on it. At times I almost hoped that I could watch the whole thing as a movie and not have to pick up the controller again. The story and plot is as engaging as the characters are interesting. However, the plot, storyline, characters, and eye-boggling CG movie scenes are not enough to make this a great game.

Movement in the monastery is very Resident Evil-style, as I have said, but the controller works a little bit differently. Push a button and you go in that direction, not always up for forward like other games. At times, this style of control was a little frustrating as well, especially when you're halfway through a room, trying to explore that strange-looking book on the floor and you have to wait to load the other half of the room over and over again because you can’t quite get in the right position, or you walk just a fraction too far to the left.

As you fight your way through 4 discs of haunted and dingy passageways in the huge old building, you discover that this game is not exactly as the box would have you believe. I know that may come as a surprise to you, as games are always what they have been advertised to be. It turns out that it is a bit of a hybrid -- a cross, if you will, between survival horror, adventure, RPG, and strategy games; a virtual potpourri of genres and styles.

Any comparisons to Resident Evil, or even Silent Hill, are justified until we come to the battle scenes. Enemies are encountered randomly, like an RPG, and the scene switches to a strange turn-based strategy-style fighting system where monsters and heroes can make a certain amount of moves on a grid. Depending on which grid square you are in determines which style of attack you can use. Magic can be used generally anywhere on the grid, but spells are hit and miss, and the more often a spell is used on an enemy, the less effective it can be. The same can be said about the swing of a hammer from the same direction. Eventually, the enemy figures out how to avoid or deflect your blows, and you must try to position yourself for the most strategic blow. While this system seems like it might be interesting, it ends up falling very short of redemption...miles away, in fact.

Most battles can be very drawn out, slow, and tedious, especially when monsters and humans need two or three moves just to be able to hack at each other. This takes any hint of action out of the game. Another problem with the battles is the long load times, especially when using magic. First off, you must choose a spell when it is your turn and wait while the enemy can take a couple of shots at you before your spell is ready. This can lead to many deaths against more powerful enemies because by the time your heal spell is ready for one of your allies, he is most certainly dead already. After you wait for your very graphic spell execution, the system must load the enemy damage, redraw your character and then all the other characters on the board. Very time consuming and frustrating.

Final thoughts and ratings

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AUTHOR
Zinc Alloy
September 7, 2000
Review Feedback

SYSTEM USED

Sony Playstation

STATS
Concept
96
Gameplay
60
Graphics
90
Sound
75
Technical
74
Overall
79

SOFTWARE

Genre:
Adventure/RPG

Release Date:
Available

Publisher:
Infogrames

Developer:
Infogrames

 


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