Monday, May 16, 2011

Random Game of the Century: Koudelka

 In my 2nd year of university, my housemate came across an obscure game that made us very happy.  I never played it, I must admit, but I saw all that I needed to.  Koudelka is a gothic horror-esque adventure using turn-based combat for the Playstation 1.  This isn’t overly my cup of tea, although I really want to play Left 4 Dead at the moment, but this game had one thing which made it a must-play.  It’s set in Aberystwyth.  For those who don’t know, that’s the small Welsh university-town I live in.  This makes it awesome, and so I must mention this game, even if only briefly.

Koudelka is set in something like 1892 in Aberystwyth, and begins with the protagonist (a woman, which was relatively unusual in the PS1 days if I recall, apart from Lara Croft) riding into Aberystwyth on a dark night.  She passes a wall and enters a gate, heading up a street to a cathedral.  Given the rough geography of Aberystwyth today, we were fairly convinced she was riding up Eastgate Street, and therefore the game took place within 100 meters of our house.  It was really cool.

The game itself is fairly mediocre.  The graphics are atrocious, the battles are middling at best, and the story is quite slow.  The design of the game, the atmosphere, and the feel of the game, those are its selling points.  Koudelka is fairly creepy, and very Victorian.  Everything other than the atmosphere, however, is thoroughly average, even for its time.  Koudelka is only really excellent because of where it’s set.  I don’t know what designer in Japan decided that Aberystwyth was a good place to set a game, but I’m very glad they did.  Especially a zombie game.  The student population have long been prepared for the inevitable zombie apocalypse, and I’m fairly convinced that if anywhere on Earth will survive, it will be Aberystwyth.  Remember this.  It could save your life.

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