I'm in total agreement with Dale on Koudelka. The game gets a slight boost of life from the unusual, Pulp Fiction-esque characters and from Koudelka's unbelievable made-to-appease sexy outfit (if looking good was a crime in the middle ages, she'd be burned at the stake in no time). I was surprised at how all three main leads are pretty much sinister in their own right. This quality made the trio of would-be adventurers one of the most genuine group of anti-heroes to come together for a videogame in a long time.

It's too bad their characterizations and somewhat decent voice acting all go to waste on utterly poor design that never properly bridges the RPG and survival horror genres. What makes survival horror games so annoying is how exploring and finding items in the prerendered backgrounds almost always proves to be a rigid and awkward experience. Koudelka makes this quality about a thousand times worse by adding random attacks—more typically found in RPGs—to the mix. So not only is spotting necessary objects in the backgrounds nearly impossible, but its further compounded by nagging attacks. Of course this wouldn't be so torturous is the battle system was good, but sadly it isn't. Dale pretty much mentioned all the negative aspects of the battle system, and there isn't anything I can say in its defense.

What hammered in the final nail in the coffin for me was how poorly the puzzles were setup. Players are basically forced to run around and recover objects that don't really make sense, and for some sick reason the developers thought it would be fun to have players do a great deal of confusing backtracking. Either the developers were just plain mad, or they were unnaturally trying to stretch the length of the game. The answer to that question will remain a mystery, but it doesn't take a detective to know that Koudelka is a wretched experience and has about as much redeeming value as its cast of rogues. Rating: 3.5 out of 10

Chi Kong Lui
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