The black sheep of the Shadow Hearts family, Koudelka is probably best remembered for its (at the time) state-of-the-art cutscenes, an enaging story, and the high quality of its voice acting.
That same quality cannot, however, be said for the battle system, which has got to be one of the most unusable, confusing and clunky ever devised. For starters, there are no places to buy items or weapons (most of which break after a few hits anyway), so they have to be collected by engaging in random encounters.
The random encounters are the single most frustrating portions of the game, mostly because of the horrifically slow loading time in battle, making even a simple encounter take forever. And even though the regular enemies are ridiculously easy, because of the loading time, it just makes the battles drag. The battle music itself doesn't help, taking a full four minutes to get to a "action" sounding part, rather than just sleep inducing drone the intro is.
The boss battles, by contrast are hellishly difficult, but are so much more enjoyable, mostly because they seem to move at a much faster pace, and you have to use some strategy, rather than just pounding mindlessly. The boss music (Incantation - Again) is also an improvement, feeling more vibrant and energetic as you beat the living crap out of some really creepy monster.
The design for boss monsters is very impressive, and very very creepy. One particularly memorable one, called the Chimera, had a blood-stained human torso, two snake-like tails for legs, three really long necks and three heads with very unsettling looks on their faces.
The ingame-graphics are fairly good, though not quite on par with those of, say Final Fantasy VIII
, but still nice nonetheless.
The atmosphere is also very creepy, as you wander through the deserted abbey, with only the sound of your footsteps pircing the silence (music plays during battles and some select scenes). The music that does play, I must add, compliments the actions nicely, with an extremely poignant sounding opening theme (Requiem).
It is was very dark game. Very very dark. Though it does have some funny moments, mainly through the (snarky) interactions of the main characters, and of course, the eternal-love-child, Roger Bacon.
I'd recommend at least a watch on youtube, especaily seeing as how hard it's to find these days.