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Video Game / Koudelka

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Koudelka is a hybrid Survival Horror/Eastern RPG videogame, released in 1999 for the Playstation. The game was followed by a Stealth Sequel Shadow Hearts, which in turn spun off into the eponymous series.

The game is set in Wales in 1898, and follows Koudelka Iasant, a young gypsy girl with magic powers, who investigates the mysterious Nemeton Monastery after experiencing visions about it. She's later joined by an unlucky thief Edward Plunkett and Vatican bishop James O'Flaherty, who searches for a certain Tome of Eldritch Lore.

This game provides examples of:

  • Anti-Frustration Features: You need to find Koudelka's Pendant to get any ending besides Non-Standard Game Over. However, if you fail to collect it or discard it, it will be added as a random drop for the game's final area.
  • Blatant Item Placement: Koudelka follows this out of necessity, but it's made slightly jarring by the fact that the game is, by comparison, extremely stingy about armor.
  • Breakable Weapons: The gist of combat system. Every melee weapon will eventually break, forcing the character to fall back on their fists. Most weapons break randomly between 15 and 30 strikes, while secret weapons will last somewhere between 100 and 255 uses. Guns and crossbows do not break, but hold limited amounts of ammo, forcing the character to waste a turn to reload.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": A fourth-wall-breaching example. The player can rename any item in the game, be it equipment or consumables. Want the cast to be healed by vials of crystal meth, or attack enemies with the Chuck Norris Gun? Have at it.
  • Character Title: Koudelka, natch.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Koudelka's amulet that she loses while scaling the monastery's roof. Finding it is vital to being able to actually challenge the Final Boss.
  • Chess Motifs: The "Formation" screen depicts the three main characters as chess pieces. Koudelka is a Queen, Edward is a Knight, and James is (of course) a Bishop.
  • Emergency Weapon: Bare fists, what else. It's the only "weapon" that will never break, but most attempts to fight off man-eating horrors with your bare hands will go as well as you'd expect.
  • Fanservice: For a game set at the end of the 19th century, Koudelka's outfit (an extremely low-cut top, very short tube skirt and thigh-high stockings) is ridiculously anachronistic, but it's also sexy. Which was obviously the higher priority.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: While most firearm drops appear in your inventory fully loaded, one specific rifle can be picked up that is missing two bullets. Specifically, Bessy's rifle, which she used in the cutscene prior to kill her husband and herself with one bullet each.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The game has several secret items, which can be obtained only by having a specific number of items in your inventory, and saving the game with second-perfect timing. For example, saving game exactly at playtime of 22:22:22 with 10 items in your inventory nets you Roger's Cane, the most powerful weapon in the game. That's over twice the amount of time needed to finish the game normally, by the way.
    • To get any ending besides a Non-Standard Game Over you need to fish a key item out of a fountain three discs after it fell in. If you miss it, you can still receive it as a Random Drop, but finding out about that is another instance of this trope.
  • Meaningful Name: "Koudelka" is a Czech name (originally a nickname) meaning "tow-headed," or blonde. It's not unreasonable for it to have migrated west among her Roma forebears. In game, she tells Edward that her nickname as a gypsy was "Szlato", meaning "treasure".
  • Multiple Endings: Three endings, with bad ending being canonical.
  • Play Every Day: To a degree it shows up in Koudelka, only the game goes by hours played rather than days. Increasingly more useful equipment is automatically given to the party the longer the player keeps playing the game, until it finally ends with getting the Gargoyle's Claw, the most powerful weapon in the game.
  • Protagonist Title: "Koudelka" is the first name of the game's main character.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Koudelka had some... very curious ideas of what a battle sequence song should sound like. See here and here.
  • Stat Sticks: This is how Koudelka treated non-missile weapons, the best method is to boost someone's stats. For instance, play long enough and you get Gargoyle's Claw. Using it on the hidden boss Gargoyle, equip it on someone and arrange the formation so that wielder is in front. The Gargoyle's Claw will increase the wielder's stats by huge numbers, and since the Claw is breakable, just have the wielder defend. The Gargoyle will keep attacking the wielder for weak damage while your other heroes keep hitting the beast until it dies.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The main trio doesn't get along very well at first. Koudelka sees Edward as too naive, while Father O'Flaherty initially believes them both to be thieves. They start travelling together only for safety before they start getting along.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The main trio is Koudelka, Edward, and James; notably, the girl is The Hero.