So imagine if you will that you're working at Square near the end of the millennium; the Final Fantasy series is selling like gangbusters and things are generally going well....except you also realize that the company is starting to pump up goofier fare like Brave Fencer Musashi or Chocobo Racing. You've got your own interesting ideas and you know Square won't go for them; so what do you do? Well if you're Hiroki Kikuta then you take your new ideas and head off to start your own company, and try to develop a new, unique property. And that brings us to today's let's play for Koudelka, the first entry in the cult classic horror RPG series known as Shadow Hearts and a game clearly reaching for the stars but ultimately running into a number of hurdles along the way.
Released for the PS1 near the end of 1999, Koudelka follows the adventures of a rag-tag group of jerks as they investigate a dark mystery surrounding a desolate monastery in Wales. On it's surface, the game has many hallmarks that you'd normally see in a lot of turn based RPG's but beneath that you'll see smatterings of what Kikuta originally wanted. Which believe it or not, was meant to be something more akin to the survival horror present in Resident Evil. He wanted scare resources for the adventurers and a tension to the game that not only came from the dreary setting, but an unsurety of what could lie in wait behind the next corner. It's just that the ex-employees he brought over from Square wanted to continue doing the tried and true RPG formula, and the compromise can be pretty clearly seen in the game as multiple genres start to mix into an odd stew that really takes some effort to see the real creativity hidden in the game. Because beneath the initial familiar sheen and safety of a bog standard RPG lies a very twisting and dark tale told through some incredibly well-done voice acting. So hopefully you'll enjoy the journey and please be kind and remember no spoilers.
Koudelka Iasant is our titular character and primary protagonist. With her razor wit and headstrong personality, she has found herself at the heart of a very dangerous situation. Thankfully she's got just the right tools to deal with the job (mainly cynicism).
Edward Plunkett is roguish adventurer with his heart set on obtaining booty....but not the kind you might be thinking. Sadly as he made his way into the Nementon Monastery in search of treasures, he soon only found himself in way over his head.
James O' Flaherty is your typical Irish asshole priest that you might see pop up in Father Ted. The question is though why this man of the cloth has found himself in the monastery and if he's being on the level with Koudelka and Edward.