Something that you don’t see that much off in today’s gaming release schedule is a new Western third-person action-RPG with the colourful charisma of Sudeki.
Released on the Original Xbox in North America in July 2004, with that followed by an EU launch in the August, Sudeki was developed by Climax Solent. And this game was a well-hidden gem – if you enjoy your action-RPGs and strangely ambiguous dialogue writing.
I imagine that most of you reading this article won’t recognise this game’s name, but if you do, and you had the chance to play it, then like me you probably warmed up to the vibrant towns of New Brightwater and Illumina.
With their fairly decent side quests and characters to interact with (in context for when it released of course), of which included an extremely grumpy duck shopkeeper. I can still recall how whiny his voice is at any given point, with him standing out amongst many others.
Sudeki was centred around four characters and their journey to defeating the dark twin god of Tetsu. Journeying between realms and towns, helping those along the way with miscellaneous tasks. These were Tal, Ailish, Buki and Elco. Each had their own weapon speciality and special ability to use in tight situations. Tal specialized in sword combat whilst when you fought as Ailish you played in first-person using her staff to shoot bolts of energy at the many foes you would come across as you travelled across Illumina and the realms outside of it.
As Buki, you would make the most of melee claws to rip apart your enemies, while Elco also carried out combat in first-person with his energy gun. These different combat styles ensured a lot of choice in character terms were on offer, letting you use and develop them as you saw fit.
Tal was a soldier of the royal guard, with his father acting as his commanding officer. His father, drunk with grief, refused to give Tal a chance of redemption. Contrary to the princess life which Ailish lives, she is the daughter of Queen Lusica. Buki – an anthropomorph: a race of half-animal half-human beings – is as religious as she is lethal in combat. And finally, Elco the scientist, complete with a mechanical arm which allowed him to use his weapon of choice; his energy pistol. Loyal to the crown, and devoted to protecting Illumina.
Sudeki is not a must-play title for the Original Xbox – maybe still not even if you are an RPG fan – and the Metacritic scoring confirms that, but for me, as a game, it serves as an excellent example of a couple of things. Firstly, it told of the risks you had to take by literally judging a game by its cover, or by a couple of Amazon reviews, as that was pretty much the only thing you had to go by. If you were in your local game shop then you could read the back cover which would hopefully contain a genre description and a bit about the general gameplay, but that was it.
There weren’t a shed load of gamer opinions and reviews to dive into on YouTube or across the many gaming media websites back in 2004, and so you were left to take a punt on your gaming experiences by checking out the box art and cover. Of course, sometimes this didn’t pay off.
Sometimes the game you bought would turn out to be something totally unexpected; a different game entirely. But, (and moving onto my second point here) it did mean that when you found a hidden gem, it felt like a game made for you and you alone.
None of your friends at school would have heard about it, none of the gaming magazines you flicked though would have mentioned it, and yet here you were experiencing all that it had to offer, despite its unknowing quality to those around you.
That’s what I loved about Sudeki. It was a surprisingly good action-RPG experience which came from a game for which I had no expectations. And for that reason I hope the Xbox and further gaming community not just remember Sudeki, its world and the characters within, but also think back to the hidden gems that deserve to live on through rumours alone.
Here’s to the Original Xbox and the many great games that most of us have never heard of. Including Sudeki.