Considering the fact that I reviewed Koudelka relatively recently (here), I make no attempt to hide the fact that Koudelka is my favourite game of all time. Everything about the game, from the originality of the gameplay to the incredible storyline, ticked all of the boxes for me. Because of this, I hold all of the development team behind Koudelka in very high regard.
So, I am sure you can imagine how excited I was when I managed to contact Mr Hiroki Kikuta, the writer and director of Koudelka, and he agreed to answer a few short questions about the game. After all, it has been 19 years since Koudelka was released! Mr Kikuta took the time out of his busy schedule to put together these answers, so I will not be paraphrasing or editing them; instead, these are his words complete. I do this out of respect for Mr Kikuta.
Questions and Answers
To begin with, I just wanted to say thank you very much to Kikuta-san for taking the time to answer my questions about Koudelka.
The game was, in my opinion, a triumph of originality in the gaming industry. The mixture between horror and RPG was a genius decision. What was your biggest inspiration for the game?
Kikuta-san: There are many horror action game like Resident Evil. But it needs awful action game skill. If there is a horror RPG, everybody can enjoy it!
That’s very true. RPG style games are definitely much easier to get used to, as you don’t need the quick reflexes and reaction time as you would in more action-based games, like typical horror action games.
As someone who has family coming from Wales, what was the reason behind setting the game in Aberystwyth?
Kikuta-san: I actually travelled around Wales to collect information, Aberystwyth is a right place.
I had not realised that Kikuta-san had actually travelled to Wales as well! It is a beautiful place Aberystwyth is incredible.
The storyline of Koudelka is incredibly unique, containing a strong Gothic feel whilst also mixing in religious elements. How did you and your team come up with the story?
Kikuta-san: I wrote the whole story alone. I used hundreds of history books as a reference. : )
Considering how detailed and in depth Koudelka’s storyline is, you can easily see the amount of research that went into the planning.
Koudelka features a mix between Resident Evil style gameplay and tactical RPG style combat. I know that this was an area of conflict within the game’s development. How do you feel about the final version of the game?
Kikuta-san: Difficult to say.
That is completely understandable. For those of you who do not know the history of Koudelka, the game uses a turn-based combat system on a grid, similar to tactical RPGs. Kikuta-san had originally wanted a more real-teal battle system, to break away from the typical game design for RPGs. However, the final decision was to include a more traditional battle system.
Video games normally take a very long time to develop because of the amount of code and visuals, as well as the story elements. How long did Koudelka take to develop and release?
Kikuta-san: 2 years in total.
Considering the final quality of the game, despite the initial reaction from critics, it is easy to see why development took so long. The game is very well polished and, whilst there are a few small details that could have been improved, the overall finished product is amazing.
One of the most memorable aspects of Koudelka is the music. Each piece of music suited the events of the game, whilst also being very different from both horror games and RPGs at the time. How did you compose the various pieces of music?
Kikuta-san: In the case of horror game, atmosphere is most important. But RPG needs expression. I designed whole Koudelka music as atmospheric expressive melody. It was so difficult.
Expressive and atmospheric are definitely the right words to describe Koudelka’s soundtrack. In fact, I still often listen to some pieces of the soundtrack when I am working on posts and articles on this site.
Looking back on Koudelka, it was an amazing game but didn’t receive the popularity it deserved. If you could change anything about the game or its release, what would it be?
Kikuta-san: I think multimedia strategy is suitable for Koudelka.
At the time, Koudelka received mixed reviews by the various video game magazines. However, a lot of retro gaming bloggers and fans are giving Koudelka very positive reviews. How does this change in opinion of the game make you feel?
Kikuta-san: I developed Koudelka as an experiencing horror story. I want to provide exciting entertainment at all times. If somebody enjoys my work, I am really so happy!
People are definitely enjoying Koudelka! The game has seen a rise in popularity in recent years, compared to when it was originally released. As such a huge fan of the game myself, this also makes me happy, as the game didn’t get the attention it deserved upon release.
And That’s All Folks
Once again, I would like to thank Kikuta-san for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. I would also like to thank him for making Koudelka, as it is still my favourite game to have ever been released.
Have you played Koudelka? If not, then you definitely should! If you have, what did you think of the game? Let me know in the comments below!