SNK's primarily been known for its arcade and handheld games, but Koudelka marks the beginning of a new era for this struggling-yet-talented publisher. Koudelka has some gameplay issues, but the game is certainly an impressive production. Developed by Sacnoth, a team formed of renegade Square employees, Koudelka is a gothic adventure/RPG in the vein of Resident Evil and Final Fantasy. Set in the late 1800s in the Nematon Monastery of Aberystwyth, Wales, the story centers around a gypsy medium named Koudelka. Heeding a spiritual call from the beyond, she arrives at the dilapidated monastery and is swept up into a sea of mystery, intrigue and bloodshed.
The gameplay is more RPG than anything, but it uses the atmospheric and inventory conventions of the survival horror genre to make it a unique one at that. As players navigate the Nematon monastery, they face random encounters with a variety of hell's minions. The battle system combines standard RPG combat with the character positioning more commonly found in tactical strategy games, usually resulting in slower-paced battles. Each character can use every weapon and spell, but it pays to specialize (Each type of weapon or spell has its own experience level, rewarding players for consistent usage). One cue taken from the survival horror genre is the notion of durability--any hand-to-hand weapon takes damage from attacks and will eventually break, forcing players to conserve attacks.
As one might expect from a team of former Square employees, Koudelka is quite graphically polished. While the character designs are nice, Koudelka's real star is the monastery itself. Oozing darkness and atmosphere, Koudelka is a game best played with the lights out. The battles are presented in real-time 3D, sporting detailed and well-textured models. The game also has a number of impressive CG movies as well. Koudelka's sound is typical for the genre-moody background music and hammy voice acting. Oddly enough, everyone has an American accent, despite it being late 19th-century England.
Koudelka gets off to a slow start, but has plenty of surprises in store for the persistent player. Despite its flaws, Koudelka should make an interesting addition to the libraries of both RPG and survival horror fans when SNK USA releases it this April.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP