Koudelka is a sorely underrated game developed by SNK/Sacnoth that was released in the U.S. by Infogrames for the Playstation in 1999. The game is an RPG, with a horror themed story.

The story starts with the introduction of Nemeton Abbey, a Welsh monastary where priests could teach and learn, that was eventually used as a prison. However, around the end of the 19th century, Patrick Heyworth purchased the monastery, and since then, those who enter do not return. Koudelka Iasant then traveled to the monastery to solve the mysterious disappearances that have taken place at the abbey. Now, on Halloween night of the year 1898, Koudelka will meet with two other individuals, and they will have to solve the mystery of Nemeton Abbey, or die trying.

Here's some information about each of the main characters:
Koudelka Iasant:
Since a very young age, Koudelka has had psychic powers, and has used them to communicate with the spirit world. She is fully capable of handling herself, and is often very serious. Now, Koudelka has been drawn to Nemeton Abbey because of a very strong psychic presence.

Edward Plunkett:
Despite his comfortable upbringing in London, Edward has lived on his own for the majority of his adult life. Now, rumors of mysterious deaths have drawn Edward to Nemeton Abbey. It his is hope that he can solve the disappearances, and hopefully find something of value.

James O'Flaherty:
James' past is riddled with pain, and heartbreak; thus, he has committed his life to the church and God. James has been sent by the Vatican to retrieve something that the church has lost that is rumored to be at Nemeton Abbey.

While many of the technical aspects of this game are a lot like traditional RPGs (random battles), there were a few battle system related things that I thought made Koudelka unique. The first is the bonus point system. With this system, when a character gains a level, you get to decide which stat they improve on (strength, vitality, etc.). Another interesting aspect to the battle system was that characters (and enemies) are located on a grid (like in Final Fantasy Tactics, or Vandal Hearts), and are only allowed a certain number of grid squares to move in one turn. One of the most original, and at times annoying things about the battle system, is that each of your weapons has a durability score that decreases as you use the weapon, and when that stat hits zero, the weapon is broken, and no longer usable. I realize that all of these things have been done before in games, but when combined, I think that they make for a truly original experience.

Overall, I thought that this was a very good game, that provided decent in game graphics, and beautiful cut scenes (for it's time). However, the story seemed like a run of the mill horror film story, and could have used a little work. So, if you're into RPGs, and aren't afraid to try something less than mainstream, then you should definitely give Koudelka a try.

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