Koudelka (クーデルカ, Koudelka) is a console role-playing game for the developed by Sacnoth for the Sony PlayStation. It was published by SNK and Infoframes (for the European release). The game was released on December 16, 1999 in Japan, June 29, 2000 in North America and September 29, 2000 in Europe.
Hiroki Kikuta, best known for composing the music to Squaresoft's Seiken Densetsu 2 and Seiken Densetsu 3, while working at Squaresoft, established Sacnoth in 1997 with funding from SNK. Unhappy with what he considered as the disjointed, juvenile, and stagnant nature of most RPGs, 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.
The style of the game was a composition of survival horror games and tactical RPGs with a grid-based system for combat.
Set in 1899 in Aberystwyth, Wales, the game follows the mysterious occurrences surrounding Nemeton Monastery and the three protagonists who, by chance, are forced to investigate its dark history.
After a series of troubling visions, Koudelka Iasant, a young girl with supernatural powers, arrives at the Monastery. There she is met by Edward Plunkett, an adventurer, and Father James O'Flaherty, a bishop.
The plot is that a long time ago, an old man was a captain of a ship named 'The Mary Alice' that went down in a terrible accident involving fire. The old man was blamed and received bad treatment before he went into a sad retirement. He and his wife, still wealthy from the ship's earnings, purchased an old monastery in Aberystwyth. The old man and his wife (named Ogden and Bessy) became friends with a certain woman named Ellaine. She believed that the boat accident wasn't Ogden's fault. Welcoming of her sympathy and understanding Ellaine and Ogden became very close. Ellaine was married to an alchemist named Patrick. Ellaine had picked Patrick over James (the 3rd character the player finds) as a husband. Patrick had promised James that he would protect Ellaine, but one day, something bad happened. Ellaine was killed by burglars that broke into her house. In their devastation at her death, Ogden and Patrick looked for mystical ways of bringing her back. After much research, Patrick found an ancient text that could bring the dead back to life.
The spell required that several fresh bodies were fed to a cauldron over time. Ogden and Patrick began with prostitutes and thieves but then began to go to nearby towns and abduct innocent people, murdering them horribly at the monastery.
After donating over two hundred bodies to the cauldron, the spell took effect. But, unfortunately, it didn't go as planned. Ellaine's body was resurrected, but not her soul. She was a monster, a beast with the image of an angel. On top of that, all the innocent people who had been sacrificed were awake as well. They came in many forms: ghosts, spirits, monsters, zombies, beasts, etc. What happens in the time between here and the start of the game is unknown. Koudelka is summoned there by the spirit of Ellaine. Edaward is there because he heard rumours and came to investigate and James (who is unaware of Ellaine's death at the beginning) was sent there by his coven.
A manga sidestory, written and illustrated by Yuji Iwahara, was published in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Ace Next. There are a few differences between the game and the manga. In the first volume, Koudelka's hair was long, before it was cut by the Asian man, making it look short, as similar to the game. And at Joshua's homeland, it is said that Dr. Hans told that name Koudelka Yasant, which is different from Iasant, Koudelka's original surname. Said to be 20 years old with dark brown hair.
The fifteen chapters were later collected in three volumes
- ISBN 978-4047133044 (Released on November 1999)
- ISBN 978-4047133389 (Released on May 2000)
- ISBN 978-4047133617 (Released on September 2000)
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 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.
- Koudelka Director's Cut - Kikuta's personal site with on set photos and other game information.
- Archived International English site
- Koudelka Web - a Japanese walkthrough with fansite links