8:40ish I'm gonna say - there's no save after credits.
This really is the year of RPGs for me, huh?
This is an odd game - one of the, what, three RPG/Survival Horror games in existence? Sweet Home and Parasite Eve being the only others that come to mind...
So, Koudelka is the name of the main female character in this Gothic Survival Horror game, a prequel to the excellent Shadow Hearts series, and one that plays like Resident Evil during the field sections (general exploration) and then transitions into a grid turn based RPG battle system in the combat sections. You'd think that these two things wouldn't go together and, well, it kinda works. The main issue is how slow the combat is and how much loading of textures goes on during the animations. It's slow. Luckily the random encounter rate is exceptionally low for an RPG and you gain levels quickly. So there is an offset there.
It's also very short for an RPG, but about right for a Survival horror game of it's time. I'd say you could speed run it in a couple of hours if you know what you're doing - like the old RE games.
There's also some weird issues with movement up and down steps/platforms and some pixel hunting when attempting to trigger scenes or pick up stuff.
And that's all my complaints.
Koudelka is a fantastic game, like..seriously great. Set in a Monastery in Wales (despite the fact everyone has an American accent, they all come from the UK or Ireland) the pure gothicness of the whole game just oozes atmosphere. Like RE before it, Koudelka uses pre-rendered backgrounds which look great, if a bit dark at times. The stained glass room especially underlines how great this technique can be - but it can also leave certain areas looking a bit flat and making it hard to see doors. This was rare though, so not really a problem in the long run.
I'm probably in the minority, but I loved the characters, bar James, and the VO. I'd actually put Koudelka as one of my favourite female characters of all time. She's tough, sassy, sexy and has enough depth to be an actual character. Vivianna Bateman? who only seems to have done this one gig as far as I know, did a fantastic job, despite the American accent for a Welsh lass. It says a lot, I think, that I actually bothered to look her. Edward was also pretty good - the interesting thing to me, at least, was that not only was the game dubbed in English in Japan originally, but that it appears to have been produced like a 40s Radio drama - by which I mean the style of delivery is very influenced by radio theatre and I just love it.
Combat, as an RPG, can appear a bit odd. Magic is probably your best weapon in the game - as swords etc break after extended use. They also seem to be randomised with various affixes (fire etc) that correspond with weaknesses/immunities of the various monsters you fight. Speaking of the monsters they range from Lovecraftian monstrosities to tables and chairs...no really, I got poisoned by a table. There's some interesting designs here and there - especially the bosses, but nothing to write home about.
One odd decision is the way save points work in the game. When you enter a screen, occasionally you'll have the name of the area with an S infront of it. This is a 'temporary' save spot - something that is never explained within the game and only found in the manual. You can save here, but, as I never died I can't tell you what happens if you load up after death. The main save points are guarded by the bosses - yup, you wanna save, you gotta kill the boss first. To be honest, there's only one boss in the game that was even a threat, and that threat was of boredom - they had different phases which could come out of nowhere and any attack would heal them or just miss. Just use a scroll, saves time. Once you beat the boss, you can save and get healed up at the fountain (which is usually the save point) - it's an odd system but hardly onerous...it could just be explained better.
Storywise it's pretty damn good - better than it's peers in many ways. At the time many reviewers couldn't follow it apparently or just found it too obtuse. To be fair I'm probably more used to this method of storytelling than they were back in 2000 and had no problem following the story - 3 People investigate a monastery, turns out that some really nasty stuff happened there, monsters, old friends, quasi-necronomicons and dead wives. Not hard really. It's the voice acting and banter that keeps the game going as well as it does. If it was like RE and without a party, it probably wouldn't have worked as well.
If you're looking for a short, weird and different experience, I highly recommend Koudelka. Then go play Shadow Hearts and demand a remake/sequel series.