Girl in the Machine
Monday, April 28, 2008
The Horror Heroine Effectiveness Scale, Part 3

(Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the scale!)

How it works: For the next few weeks, I'll be serving up two rankings every Monday. Since this is a scale, we'll be going from number 10 -- the absolutely least effective Survival Horror heroine out there -- all the way to number 1 -- the greatest of the great.

6. Rebecca Chambers

Appears In: The Resident Evil series
Horror Effectiveness: Tolerably Adequate
Rationale: Poor Rebecca. She didn't ask to appear in her own game. And yet we have Resident Evil 0, a completely unneeded prequel that occurs simultaneously with the original RE (instead of, you know, providing us with any juicy information about the beginnings of Umbrella, if we still even care at this point). Ms. Chambers is a medic for STARS's inept Bravo team, and finds herself trapped on a train filled with hungry hungry zombies with only a convicted murderer named Billy Coen to help her out.

I would describe Rebecca's effectiveness in a Horror Situation with a simple "Ehh." Perhaps the only phenomenally stupid thing she does is conveniently forget to call for backup when the train is ravaged by hideous necrifying slugs, and instead opts to wander around on her own armed with a weeny little pistol and, uh, no medicine. Did I mention that she's a medic? Thank goodness for Billy Coen, the first muscley strongman on our scale that's required to rescue a heroine from carnivorous beasties every five minutes, not to mention the fact that Rebecca is, health-wise, the weakest protagonist of all the RE games . . . but, she is a medic, so for the sake of plot, I can dig it.

So Rebecca is just . . . okay. She's middling. She sits quite nicely at the center of our scale, since, despite briefly filling a Damsel In Distress role for Billy, she's at least active in her plot, and presumably trained to survive in said Horror Situation. She briefly appears in the original RE as well, and is actually one of the few supporting characters who survives . . . unless you decide not to save her. Then you find her headless body later in the game. Poor girl.

The Bottom Line: If you were fighting off squishy parasitic slugs in a train car with her, just chew an Herb mixture and heft your gun. You'll probably be fine.

5. Koudelka Iasant

Appears In: Koudelka (PS1, 2000), Shadow Hearts (PS2, 2001)
Horror Effectiveness: Cool and Collected
Rationale: So Koudelka the game is an interesting mix of Survival Horror and RPG -- and by interesting mix I mean a gorgeous, engaging game plagued by an unspeakably terrible and half-assed battle system. But the heroine of our story, Koudelka, the sardonic gypsy woman with psychic powers, outshines a nightmarish gameplay experience with pure sarcastic badassery. This is the part of the scale where things start looking up, folks, and I'm happy to usher in our first shining star.

Koudelka first travels to the Nemeton Monastery on the bidding of a mysterious voice in her head. On her way, she rescues the clueless Edward Plunkett from a monster, gaining a travel companion. She saves Edward's skin yet again when the two stay in the care of a seemingly friendly old couple who are also, you know, poisoning their guests' food. When she finds Bishop James O'Flaherty curled up in terror of a deadly plant monster in the monastery garden, her adventuring party is complete, and I found myself understandably shocked and awed that, in a two-man one-woman party, the lady is our fearless leader.

There's a lot to love about Koudelka. She actively explores the skin-crawling monastery with purpose instead of wandering around aimlessly. She keeps her cool in situations that have Edward and James whimpering, and even when she does show fear, she's . . . just allowed a spirit to communicate through her. I'll give you a sample of what the the spectral remnants of Nemeton Monastery have to say:
"Kill them. They cut off my fingers. They crushed my legs. They smashed my head, cut out my guts. They took everything from me. They locked me up and chopped up my body."
Spooky!

Also, it pleases me every time James tries to bully Koudelka for not being Christian, she's quick to return with a cutting remark. Sardonic gypsy woman with psychic powers doesn't need your patriarchy!

My only complaint about Koudelka is her presentation in the brilliant RPG follow-up Shadow Hearts. But I'll let you experience that for yourself.

The Bottom Line: If you were being menaced by the vengeful spirits of a blood-soaked monastery with her, just keep your cool and collect all the weapons you can before they break. She'll take care of the rest.

We're getting closer to the coveted top slots of our feature! Join me next Monday for Part 4 of the Horror Heroine Effectiveness Scale!

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