Actually the predecessor to the "Shadow Hearts" series, Koudelka similarly wasn't "reviewable" to me until better quality images made it to the fandom wiki at long, long last. Not as clear as our images for Shadow Hearts III, but it's impressive enough that anyone collected so many screenshots from a PS1 RPG over 20 years old!
"Small scarecrow-like homunculi with sackcloth faces. They are named for the god of war for their belligerent and aggressive nature."
It's important we start off with this one! Mars has a big egg-shaped head completely enclosed in a burlap sack, with just some stitches where the mouth should be and depressions over the eye sockets, while the body is very little more than a pair of long arms and legs that appear to be made of vines, roots and rope tangled together! This cute little guy was the first Koudelka enemy I ever saw on its official website when the game was brand new, and I still think of it as the game's "mascot," though they never did show off more than a couple of other monsters, and I never got around to ever actually playing the game, either.
"Born of unbaptised infants in limbo, they wail and cry for their long departed mothers. Unloved. Uncherished. They crawl through the Monastery searching for affection."
We've seen this same monster design grow and evolve across the later Shadow Hearts games, eventually becoming a horrific giant boss-caliber monster, but here in Koudelka they're just nasty little creeping ghosts! A grey, wrinkled, rotten looking spherical womb, almost brainlike, with random pale baby limbs and one entire baby torso sprouting out. Gross, but all they want is a family! I'd adopt them all and then I'd demand they be allowed to go to school because I'm sure the resulting pandemonium would be very very funny.
"A former prisoner of Nemeton; he was tortured, mutilated and beheaded, while still alive. He wanders the Monastery seeking revenge for such an unclean death."
Jesus. This guy's feet have been replaced with two long, metal spikes that he has to balance on, his right arm is chopped completely off but still tied by the wrist to his left arm, and he has multiple giant shards of glass jutting up out of his shoulders, neck hole and back. Who honestly looked at this design and found the headlessness more memorable than anything else? Its own official bio gives it a better name: this is either "Tortured Corpse" or "Mutilated Corpse." Or even drop the "corpse" and just call this entire monster the "Tortured and Mutilated."
"Shade of a former thief who sought to pillage from the Monastery. Poisoned and then shot, he stalks the grounds trapped in his own purgatory."
This unsettling enemy is just a somewhat bloodstained man walking upside-down, but a couple of extra heads are growing in a row from one side of his face, all three heads hairless, blue and slimy looking. He also has a gun, but it feels pretty anticlimactic to encounter this thing and just get shot.
"Stumbling blindly without a head or arms, it feels only pain. But lacking a mouth, it cannot even scream."
Much more accurately named than Headless Corpse, this naked, filth-caked, yellow-tinged human body is entirely gone from the chest up, a gaping basket of charred and eroded flesh where a rib cage should be.
"The result of a hideous fusion between man and beast. It is an walking plague; a sin against God. Its three heads bicker constantly and fight for control of the body."
I like how rarely anyone can resist writing a multi-headed monster to always argue with itself. It's just such a cute and funny routine to imagine no matter how menacing the monster, and this one's PRETTY menacing. It's a bloodied, bruised looking human body with four breasts, walking on its knees, the rest of each leg replaced by a huge, curving horn or blade. Its three long, thin, gory looking necks each end in a different "head" but not literally the human, lion and ram you expect; it has one bearded human head, a more monstrous looking head with four glowing yellow eyes, and a weird abstract head made of wrinkled pink flesh, or something, that's just KINDA shaped like a horned goat? I think? It's hard to tell from here, honestly. The whole thing is mighty disturbing, but I still want to watch its Three Stooges routine.
"The anger and betrayal of fallen women given form. Formally using their charms to entice men, there is now only a twisted mockery of their beauty. It is yet another crime against the natural order."
The description is like a PG-13 way of saying it's the cursed spirit of prostitutes, I guess, and it has what may be the most disturbing design in the game, if not one of the most disturbing in Shadow Hearts overall. It moves on four human legs, but they're twisted in random directions rather than their feet even planted on the ground. At the center of these tangled limbs is just a dark, gnarled clot of flesh continuing up into a stalk, and at the top of this stalk is just a large tumor from which protrude multiple pale human faces, an unusually long wrinkly arm, a couple of pointed spider-like limbs and a couple of weird fleshy appendages that feel like greyish, tattered wings, almost. Feathery looking but shaped more like insect wings. It's SUCH an abnormal looking being, it's like someone tried to build a giant phage virus out of mannequins and hamburger.
"A strange creature from another dimension. It bobs silently in the air murmuring in an alien tongue."
We're now out of monsters I could turn into transparent PNG's, but great designs nonetheless! This is just a floating sphere of flesh with some gnarly wooden-looking outgrowths, which extend into sharp, crescents encircling it, and its fleshy core also has a couple of sad looking little eyeballs. It's a simple layout, but very otherworldly, and I like how misshapen and asymmetrical it is with even so little to work with.
"Monstrous fusion of a man and a scorpion. It is the result of an experiment that ended in dismal failure. It has enough venom in it's tail to kill a hundred men."
I love when a human-bug fusion finds a fairly elegant middle ground between such different forms. This is basically a humanoid figure crouched low enough to be face-down against the ground, one arm ends in a vestigial hand and the other in a large pincer, and of course it has a scorpion's tail. Whether it has any eyes or mouth visible, I can't tell from any screenshot, but its entire body surface is scaly and bony, almost like crocodilian skin, with the human ribs and spinal column almost exposed. It really feels like an unpleasant mid-way point between soft flesh and jointed chitin, something simultaneously trying to be both at once.
"A fallen Angel who delights in death and torture. Summoned by the evils of Nemeton Monastery, his only desire is to unleash chaos upon the world and take glee from its ruin."
Wish we had a clearer shot of this one, but there's a video here! This "fallen angel" is a fat, blue skinned humanoid with wings, almost completely covered in eyes, and floating upside down!
"The true form of Charlotte. Unable to feel love, and with only hatred for the world and mother that shunned her, Charlotte has taken on this piteous form. Only with its death, may her poor wandering soul be laid to rest."
This optional boss manifests from the ghost of a little girl if you don't give her better closure, or something like that. We don't have a lot of clear images we can go by, but you can check out a video of the battle here, and it's quite intentional that her form is so obscured by darkness. She's actually a blackish, glistening slug-like being, with a few short tentacles sprouting from her sides, a pair of humanoid arms and an elongated neck. Her face is mostly still that of a child, but with one larger, brighter eye and a drip of flesh (or slimy-caked hair?) dangling to one side.
"Formally a chaste and pious man, extensive mutations have rendered it inhuman. Hidden away underground, it waits patiently for suitable prey that it may lay its larvae in. As a cruel irony, the desire to breed is its only motivation."
Especially wish I could see this one's model more easily, and moreso wish we could see its concept art! It appears to be a large humanoid head with dark blue, almost burnt black skin, but there's a smaller baby-like head breaking out of the top, and then it has a pair of big, round, translucent sacs sprouting from either side. in battle, there's something inside of each sac that constantly rotates, and I can't tell what it is. A skull? A fetus? A brain???? Finally the whole grotesque head tapers down into a little torso with four spindly, clawed limbs, and how any of this pertains to a "fly" is hard to say, yet, I still get it. I still get how this qualifies as a "mad fly." It just speaks to me.
"A blood-sucking insect magnified by the warped energies of the Monastery."
A FLEA!!! There's not much I can say, it's just a semi-realistic giant-sized flea, a bit fatter than the real thing. I just don't see them that often as monsters is all.
"A beast made entirely of brain matter. It is actually a sentient type of tumor."
It's so perfect!!! An enemy called "eyeball" that's also a crawling tumor AND a brain monster?! The simple design is just a roundish glob of brown flesh with a large, pinkish eyeball, a smaller eyeball up a little higher and two pale, jointed arms ending in little knobs. Adorable!
There aren't many more monsters in Koudelka at all, but we're going to leave this at my personal favorites and wrap it up with the final boss. Elaine is a long story, but she's the cause of the terrible things that happen in Koudelka. Eventually you battle her, hilariously naked and scurrying around with her head backwards, and then she undergoes a metamorphosis into a giant mosquito-like creature with a human torso and her face on a long neck. Not bad! Outside a couple of Resident Evil titles, there aren't many games where the epic final form of the main villain is insect-themed, unless of course insects are a central theme of the story, and that's not really the case here.
As the precursor to the Shadow Hearts titles, Koudelka has a pretty good bestiary, even if it's a lot smaller. It wasn't sure it wanted to come across as a fantasy RPG or a pure horror game, and that combo is also heavily shared by Parasite Eve, another series I ought to revisit eventualy.
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