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Koudelka (クーデルカ, Kūderuka) is a console role-playing game for the PlayStation developed by Sacnoth for the Sony PlayStation, and the first game in the series that would become the Shadow Hearts series.
Set in 1898 Wales, the game follows the mysterious occurrences surrounding the distant Nemeton Monastery and the three protagonists who, by chance, are forced to investigate its dark history.
The gameplay combines elements of grid-based RPGs with survival horror elments, and exploration of the Nemeton complex to solve puzzles.
Sacnoth founder and CEO Hiroki Kikuta acted as the game's director, producer, writer and composer, following his wish to create a mature, dark, horror RPG, as he was unsatisfied with what he considered as the disjointed, juvenile, and stagnant nature of the genre.
The game was released on December 16, 1999 in Japan, June 29, 2000 in North America and September 29, 2000 in Europe.
Console Classics announced a Steam re-release in 2015, alothough this has not come to fruition.
The gameplay is split between two styles of play; exploration, and combat.
Controlling the main protagonist, Koudelka Iasant, the player explore the Nemeton Monastary and grounds, controlling a 3D model on pre-rendered backgrounds, with fixed camera angles, via tank-controls, akin to the Resident Evil series.
In this environment, the player is able to see story scenes, pick up items, weapons, and ammo, and engage in puzzle-solving.
With enemies and playable characters positioned on this grid, the combat is turned-based, with the order determined by the Agility stat governing both players and enemies. Each party has access to physical and magical attacks and other abilities, such as status effects, buffs, debuffs, and healing magic, with the player party also able to escape from battle.
Weapons and magic will also gain skills points, which increase with use in battle, allowing many benefits such as; multiple hits per turn, wider area of effect, or simply better damage/healing.
The survival horror elements are the limited inventory (although ammo and restorative items stack), and the weapon breakage system. Melee weapons will break after a set amount of use, while guns are limited to the amount of ammo currently stocked.
After a series of troubling visions, Koudelka Iasant, a young gypsy girl with supernatural powers, arrives at the Monastery. There she meets and rescues Edward Plunkett, an adventurer, and Father James O'Flaherty, a bishop on a holy mission from the Vatican.
During their investigation, the trio encounter as series of troubling events, with both human, and supernatural elements at play; The tragic phantom, Charlotte D'Lota, who haunts the monastary spreading misery and hatred over her unhappy death. The furtive thief, Alias, who lurks in the shadows to ambush the unwary. Roger Bacon - an enigmatic man who claims to be the 13th century philosopher, rendered immortal. And an encounter with bestial Gargoyle, an amalgam of the malignant energies of the monastary.
Out of sheer grief, Patrick pursued dark means to bring her back from the dead, and sought the forbidden text - the Émigré Document - reputed to have to the power to do so.
He and his servants, husband-and-wife, Ogden and Bessy Hartman, moved into the Nemeton Monastery to pursue his endevour. With many human sacrifices he managed to bring his wife's corpse back to life, except she was an inhuman monster, with her tormented soul seperated from her body, and crying out for help.
It was Elaine's tormented soul that Koudelka had heard, drawing her to the monastary. After fighting their way through monsters, Koudelka, Edward and James eventually uncover this, and determine to put a stop to it.
With advice from Roger, they set monastary ablaze, and make their way to the Church, where Elaine resides.
There are three endings to Koudelka;
- The Worst Ending - If the player has not found Koudelka's Pendant, Elaine blasts the party with a corrosive power that melts the flesh from their bones, resulting in a non-standard Game Over.
- The Good Ending - The party find the pendant and defeat Elaine in their final battle. Elaine's soul appears to reunite with her body, but she plummets to her death in the fire below.
- The Bad Ending - The party find the pendant, but lose to Elaine in their final battle. James sacrifices himself to kill Elaine and allows Koudelka and Edward to flee from the burning building.
Given the events seen and referenced in Shadow Hearts, the Bad Ending is considered the canonical ending.
Hiroki Kikuta, best known for composing the music to Squaresoft's Seiken Densetsu 2 and Seiken Densetsu 3, while working at Square Co., Ltd. established Sacnoth in 1997 with funding from SNK Playmore|SNK. Unhappy with what he considered as the disjointed, juvenile, and stagnant nature of most Computer role-playing games, Kikuta had intended to take the genre in a whole new direction.
Internal quarrels within Sacnoth had led to a compromised product. Kikuta had wanted to develop an action-based battle system, citing Resident Evil as a source of inspiration. However, his employees were adamant about releasing something closer to the kind of games that Square had been making.
The game was fully voice-acted, and starred Vivianna Bateman as Koudelka, Michael Bradbury as Edward, and Scott Larson as Father O'Flaherty. The game also featured several FMV cutscenes.
Koudelka is the precursor to Sacnoth's Shadow Hearts series. Shadow Hearts takes place in the Koudelka universe and features various locales and characters from Sacnoth's debut work.
A manga sidestory, written and illustrated by Yuji Iwahara, was published in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Ace Next.
For more information, please see the Manga article.
Written in January 2000, "Koudelka - The Mansion's Scream" is a novelization of the main story, written by Japanese author "Nahoko Korekata". Unfortunately, due to its rarity and that fact that it was only produced in Japanese very little is known about it, other than it being a supposedly lackluster novelization.
- Publisher: Ascii
- Label: Famitsu Bunko
- ISBN: 4-7572-0665-8
Published by "Pony Canyon", Nov 17, 1999, the game was adapted for a brief six-part radio drama. It loosely follows the plot of the game, but makes many alterations to fit the short running time.
The music is the same as that used in the game.
Product Code: PCCB-00403
- Yui Horie as Koudelka Iasant
- Ryotaro Okiayu as Edward Plunkett
- Rokuro Naya as James O'Flaherty
- Sakiko Tamagawa as Elaine Heyworth
- Masashi Ebara as Patrick Heyworth
- Ryusei Nakao as Roger Bacon
- Koichi Asuka as Alias
- Yuko Sasamoto as Alicia
- Chinomi Chikuma, Miyuki Uehara as Villagers/ Extras
- First night: "Between Life and Death" (11:15)
- Second night: "The Other Me" (09:14)
- Third night: "The Prison of the Soul" (10:38)
- Fourth Night: "That Which We Protect" (08:23)
- Fifth Night: "Opposing the Lord, for a moment..." (11:01)
- Sixth Night: "In Distant Memory..." (11:21)
Total Length 61:52
Dutch magazine Power Unlimited gave the game a score of 6.0 out of 10, praising the cutscenes, but criticizing the combat sections and calling Kikuta's music "a disaster".
|Koudelka Iasant - Edward Plunkett - Father James O' Flaherty|
|Patrick Heyworth - Elaine Heyworth - Ogden - Bessy - Charlotte - Roger Bacon - Alias - The Creature|
|Nemeton Monastery Grounds|
|Caretaker's Quarters - Dungeon - Prison - Underground Shrine - Storage Room - Library - Archives - Church Nave|
Inner Grounds - Underground Passage - Nemeton Graveyard - Charlotte's Cell - Patrick's Quarters - Vestry - Church
Bell Tower Spire
|Émigré Manuscript - Saint Daniel - The Formors - SS Princess Alice - Guard's Diary - Old Letter - Sophia's Letters|
Patrick's Memo - Research Notes
|Requiem - Ubi Caritas Et Amor - Koudelka OST - The Music of Koudelka|
|Valuables - Items - Magic - Bosses - Enemies - Weapons - Accessories - Armour|
Drama CD (Transcript) - Translation - Game Script - Wallpaper