Journey into Nementon Abbey with Koudelka



Overview
Have you been searching for a mature themed role playing game with more than a little gothic horror thrown in for good measure? Do you like deviously clever dialogue, and rambunctious preaching? Do you have the patience of a stone statue? Well if you said yes to most of these things, then Koudelka & friends, (almost as good as Spiderman & friends), might be for you!

Koudelka was Sacnoth’s answer to stepping away from the cutesy JRpgs that were being released around the time of Koudelka’s release. What us few patient gamers are left with is a game that is 2 parts awesome in the voice acting and atmosphere, and 1 parts crappy in the battle system department. Oh and let us not forget that this game is 4 discs long. :) So let’s take a look at some of Koudelka’s other parts…

Release Dates
NA Jun 29, 2000
JP Dec 16, 1999
PAL Sep 29, 2000
Developed by: Sacnoth
Published by: SNK & Infogrames (Pal)

Story

Story

The setting for our heroine and friends is 1898 in Aberystwyth, Wales. The actual place where the game takes place is in Nementon Abbey, a sort of haunted castle or monastery depending on your point of view. Koudelka, Edward, and James all have their own reasons for venturing to Nementon and while they all start off alone, they eventually meet up and have to stay together to survive & solve the mysteries surrounding Nementon Abbey.

Koudelka

Koudelka: a young gypsy who has been blessed or cursed with psychic powers. She makes the journey to Nementon to find out why she was psychically summoned there.

 

Edward

Edward: the blond ‘treasure hunter’ of the group. He wants to find and keep the valuables available at Nementon.

 

James

James: an almost fanatical Bishop who has left his coven to see if the rumors of the mystical Emigre Document being hidden at Nementon are true.

 

Gameplay

Gameplay

~Combat~
I thought I would go ahead and get this part of the gameplay out of the way. As it is definitely the most talked about by everyone who has every played this game or seen it. Now I know I have not yet played all the rpg games ever made :), but I think this game has got to be the slowest turn based rpg in existence. Man it is so slow, it makes you want to go do something else constructive with your time while it plays itself out.

All of the battles besides story ones are random. The turns in actual combat are based on the AGL stat, and usually you can only do about two things before that characters turn is over. An example would be if you attack, then your next option would be to either to move or wait. If you decide to change your weapon that turn, you will not be able to attack until the next turn. I’m guessing Sacnoth really wanted to go for a realistic system, because even when you go to cast magic it has a lag time. Depending on the magic cast and the current magic level it could take more than 1 turn to cast.

Besides the turn based aspect of combat there is the grid based gameplay, which is supposed to make the game seem more tactical. Honestly it just makes the game slower in my opinion. You can setup specific formations with our 3 characters in the grid system, and whichever character is in front of the other two characters, the monsters cannot pass that specific front character, and vice versa. Also of note is the fact that the closer you are to the monster the more damage you do, and further away is less damage.

Formation Screen

As far as gaining levels it’s the standard deal: experience points gained allows you to level up, however the shining aspect of gaining levels is the fact that you can allocate your bonus Attribue Points (AP) however you would like. So you can make little Koudelka into your strongest Strength character and have James and Edward stand in the back while she protects them! :o

How Bonus Ap works

Another way to build your characters is to continuously use specific weapons and magic with them. If you don’t continuously use those Swords and even Shotguns you find then your characters will continue to do less damage against stronger enemies. Same rules apply for the 4 magic classes. This part of the Character customization isn’t too bad considering Weapon levels and Magic levels only go up to Level 3. Unfortunately since combat is so slow it seems like it takes forever.

The video below is an example of some of the combat.

Random Battles

~Exploration for Goodies~
Exploring in this game is done with pre-rendered backgrounds and a spooky air à la old school Resident Evil. The good thing is you don’t have to worry about the infamous tank controls. The bad thing is that your inventory is limited. So limited in fact that there is no way you will be able to carry the large assortment of quest items and every weapon you find. So the best advice I can give you is to pick a few weapons to keep for every character. Keep all of the recovery and quest items you can carry, and throw away or don’t even pick up the rest.
Speaking of weapons… they actually break in this game after continued use. So if you keep a few specific weapons for whatever character then you should be fine.

There are some puzzles in the game that can effectively slow you down a bit from moving forward, and honestly they aren’t hard but they aren’t exactly good puzzles either. One puzzle has you backtracking across almost the whole Abbey, while another puzzle pretty much solves itself after you find all the pieces. All in all it’s just something it seems Sacnoth threw in there to make the game longer.

I didn't even move anything!

~Say that Again?~

Too be honest the most awe inspiring thing about this game would have to be the dialogue between the characters. For a game that came out so early in the 2000’s with good voice acting, and a rpg to boot is pretty interesting in itself. It’s also one of the reasons why this game has at least one good thing said about it constantly. Once again the combat is the only thing that truly holds this game back.
One thing that I personally didn’t like is the fact that their were no subtitles. So if you miss a cutscene or a talking portion of the game and you don’t have it on some form of record you pretty much missed it unless you want to replay it.

An example on some of the dialogue can be heard below. It starts at around 3:56 and ends at 5:30

Noteworthy
Here are my personal Pros & Cons about this game:
Pros:

  • Excellent voice acting & dialogue.
  • The story is pretty sweet too…once it all comes together.
  • Mature, gothic horror rpg? Yes please. :)
  • Decent Character stat customization

Cons:

  • Slow Battle System (nuff said)
  • Weapons break.
  • No side quests = linear storyline
  • James (at least in the beginning)

~Misc~

  • Reviewers in the past have stated that this game is ~20hours long. Actually it’s more like 10-12 hours long if you have a decently built party and understand the system. It could probably be much less than even that.
  • I only had to grind out random battles twice. Once because of some super difficulty spike at a boss, and the other time was because I wanted to beat the final boss all easy-like. :)
  • I’m kind of neutral on this, but the fact that the characters don’t sound like they are from Wales might urk some people.
  • Music in this game is pretty nonexistent… unless you’re in a battle or cutscene. But at least it’s good music.
  • Koudelka is the prequel to the Shadow Hearts series, but you already knew that didn’t you?
  • When you level up, you get full Hp & Mp.
  • There are 3 endings to this game. If you want to see one don’t pick up Koudelka’s Pendant and go thru the game normally… but don’t say I didn’t warn you! >:)
  • Some items are hard to see in the game so pay attention to Koudelka’s head turning when you walk into a room She will lead you to an item you can interact with.
  • As long as you’re not comparing the game graphics in this game to modern games, they look good for an old playstation 1 title. Especially some of the boss monsters.
  • Most of the weapons and armor you pick up have random elements assigned to them such as Air or Earth. Some weapons can poison or even steal life from enemies so keep what you like!
  • If you decide to skip some weapons, they will remain there until you cross your Point of No Return in Disc 4.
  • Defeating the Gargoyle gives you the strongest weapon in the game. Otherwise it’s pointless.
  • This game has some pretty creepy & disturbing parts. You’ve been warned :o

Goodies
This Koudelka manual is here courtesy of Replacementdocs.com

Image Gallery
This image gallery contains screenshots, art, and wallpapers for Koudelka on the Playstation 1. Enjoy :)
Note:Once you click an image, you can use the navigation bar, or the Left or Right arrow keys to move through images on that page.

Videos

Koudelka gameplay – very first battle from Mickeyzzzz

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Koudelka – Bad Ending from UltimeciaFFB (~20 secs long)

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Let’s Play Koudelka – Intros & Gameplay ~pt1~

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Words from Z
Hmm… well to sum it all up I’m very glad I played this game due to the story, but I’m also very sad it took me so long to finish since I could barely stomach the battle system. Would I recommend this game to a friend to play? Only if they have the patience of a 100 year old oak tree. Otherwise just find the videos to watch somewhere like my full Let’s Play of Koudelka or somewhere else. Side note: I didn’t start skipping random battles till half way thru my Let’s Play so you only have to suffer a bit.

However I know people will most likely test it out just because they are that hardcore. If you are one of those people, make sure to stop back by and tell me how much you enjoyed or hated it. :)

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