Even from its initial announcement Sudeki looked promising. As more and more info and screenshots were released on Sudeki, it seemed like the stylistic action role-player was destined to be a classic. Sudeki’s development team, Climax, was finding new ways of eking extra horsepower from the Xbox, the high concept fighting system sounded sublime on paper, and the promise of traditional RPG elements merely seemed to seal the deal that the game was going to end up being something special. Well, as Meatloaf might say ‘three out of three ain’t too shabby’.
RPGs are known for providing a window to an entirely new world. Letting players travel to new places and see new things, preferably of a believably fantastical influence. Sudeki comes correct in this regard. Every piece of the surroundings is different; you know where to go because you remember where you’ve been. And you remember because everything you look at is memorable. Sudeki’s storyline is admittedly a bit shallow but it’s amazing presentation and depth of style will keep you interested even when its predictable proceedings don’t. The story revolves around four warriors that have been brought together by a deeper understanding of an ancient evil that threatens to destroy the world. There’s a dark god and a light god, and they conflict and battle and probably don’t share similar philosophies or interests. Enter Tal, the protagonist swordsman; Ailish, the sorceress; Buki, the bootiful catwoman warrior; and Elco, a scientifically oriented ranged weapons master; all of whom will bring peace back to the world of Sudeki by defeating the evil deity known as Heigou.
Exploration, like with Knights of the Old Republic, is performed in fully rendered 3D environments that are loaded with tons of detail, assorted interactive personalities, and large open range topographies. Occasionally, your venturing will lead to simple puzzles that require you to utilize the strengths of your four characters. These puzzles are not difficult or complicated, they are simple and straightforward. There’s the obligatory crate pushing puzzles that Tal can handle because of his great physical strength. Ailish uses her magical dispelling ability to make appear hidden treasures and passageways. Thanks to the Wolverine-like outstretched claws on Buki’s weapons, she can easily scale certain walls to reach otherwise inaccessible locations. And Elco’s proprietary rocket pack allows him to freely soar across chasms. It is seldom that you won’t know how to tackle a puzzles the game throws at you, but using Tal’s, Ailish’s, Buki’s, and Elco’s special abilities to progress through certain areas still feels worth doing while you’re doing it.
There are two forms of combat in Sudeki: melee and ranged. In melee combat, your character is controlled from a third-person perspective, akin to all combat in KotOR. In ranged mode, the action switches to first-person mode and the combat takes the form of a typical shooter. You almost always have the choice of switching to a different combat mechanic, the exception being when you are adventuring solo without additional characters in your party. Fighting from a shooter perspective makes dealing with foes a little easier than the head-on melee route, but melee characters have more hit points so there is a tradeoff.
The combat system takes some getting used to. Sudeki attempts to integrate traditional RPG turn-based dynamics with real-time fighting and the result is a more potent and diverse experience that retains most of the age-old RPG trappings. Attacks, either in third- or first-person, are performed by tapping the face buttons on the controller. Melee characters can perform combos by hitting three-button combinations. The black and white buttons are used for switching between characters on the fly. And hitting Y brings up a familiar menu system that gives you access to things like items and special moves. When you activate the Y-menu, the action slows to a crawl of 5% which almost guarantees safety but also leaves the door of danger slightly ajar.
The reward for destroying wave after wave of monsters and baddies is, of course, experience points that will be used to progressively level up your characters. Sudeki’s advancement system again draws parallels to Bioware’s Star Wars opus. You’ll have the ability to use advancement points in four different categories (health, power, essence, and skill) or to unlock new and powerful special moves.
Sudeki’s graphics are really impressive, both in terms of technical and artistic achievement. The world of Sudeki is one continuous experience, slicing a swath from vast location to location is seamless. Occasionally there are slight loading pauses between areas, but these measure well under a single second and are hardly noticeable. The nicely bump-mapped textures and super lush, ever changing environments make its lack of loading times all the more impressive.
Sudeki attempts to recreate the vocally charged dialogue thoroughness of KotOR and it succeeds on some levels but fails disappointingly in terms of meeting KotOR’s quality level of voice acting. Yes, nearly everyone you engage in conversation with in Sudeki will have new things to say to you but the occasional rancid vocal inflection or accent will arise and jolt you out of your suspension of disbelief. The soundtrack is typical (in terms of its atypical-ness) epic-style RPG orchestrations and the sound effects perform their duty admirably.
I really had a lot of fun, Sudeki. I think you’re a great game no matter how they spin you. I’ll admit I was a little hesitant to give you such a high score (because of how it would contrast with popular online opinion) but darn it, Sudeki, you deserve an 87%.