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Kuon - Japanese Horror Game
If you're a horror buff and want to bring a bit of fright into your night, check out Kuon. This game is for mature audiences only and is quite scary!
You can play either "yang" or "yin" styles - both are teenage females who live in Heian era Japan (medieval times). You wander through a dark world, lit only by flickering candlelight and the occasional torch, being attacked by demons and running across bloody corpses.
The game does all it can to scare you. A corpse you pass at one point will have vanished when you return, with only a still-wet bloody trail left behind. Corpses drop down from above, and when you are weak you get "vertigo", causing the screen to swirl and spin.
You don't have a health bar or intrusive screen displays. The game as much as possible tries to draw you into its world. There are no hard rock thumping background themes - just the eerie sound of children singing, and the screams of victims.
The graphics of the game are on par with games such as Way of the Samurai - reasonably realistic with an anime-style atmosphere to it. The world you walk through is semi-interactive. You go from screen to screen with each screen being static.
The game is extremely linear and creates very silly plot situations. You can only walk on the dirt path - not crossing the 1/4" high stone border along it. So even though you can see into another area, you can't walk there - you have to take an incredibly long, circular route along the "designated path". When a tiny bit of rubble falls on the path, heaven forbid you actually walk around it on the grass - you have to follow your path.
The sounds, as I mentioned, are quite good and realistic. You really get immersed in this world and jump when something attacks you. I highly recommend playing at night with a candle or two lit.
I love the Japanese culture and the Heian culture in particular. I find it really great to play in this atmosphere of candlelight, shoji screen and rock gardens. To me that is far more spooky and "real" than playing with zombie-machines in a sci fi world.
The plot itself involves a demon hunter who is called in to a Lord's manor to soothe his fear of demons. Of course, the demons turn out to be real, and the daughter and mother of the Lord are soon hiding in fear. When the demon hunter does not return, his daughter goes into the manor to figure out what happened to him.
The puzzles in the game are well integrated but in many cases very frustrating. You run into a spinning dial puzzle filled with Japanese characters and I-Ching symbols. You have no idea what the symbols mean and get the sense that a Japanese player might know what order to connect them with. It's only later in the game (perhaps after spending countless hours randomly spinning the dial) that you are given clues as to how to solve it. If they at least gave you a hint beforehand that you *would* be given clues to the puzzle, it would be one thing. But because the game is Japanese, you figure that there is a cultural meaning to the symbols that you are just missing.
The pace is very slow - you have to walk slowly and quietly or wake up the demons. There is some combat, but it is of the stab-with-knives or use-magic-cards variety. The game is about atmosphere and horror - not about blasting away with machine guns.
There is a LOT of blood in this game, and a lot of bodies impaled on bamboo spikes or being gnawed by demons. So for some audiences, this is the perfect game and will provide hours of spine tingling entertainment. But be sure you are really ready for it. That mature rating is on there for a reason!
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