|Publisher(s)||From Software (JP)|
Indie Games (EU)
|Release date(s)||April 1, 2004 (JP)|
December 7, 2004 (NA)
September 16, 2005 (EU)
|Ratings||Mature 17+ (ESRB)|
Cero 15 (Jap.)
Kuon (九怨) is a survival horror video game for the PlayStation 2, developed and published by From Software on April 1 (April Fools' Day), 2004 in Japan. Agetec published the game on December 7, 2004 in North America and Indie Games on September 16, 2005 in Europe. Kuon is based on an ancient type of Japanese horror story called Kwaidan . The setting is a dark and gruesome mansion in the Japanese town of Kyoto where mutated creatures and other horrors lurk. The game is set during the Heian Period (794 to 1185) of ancient Japan.
In the beginning of Yin Phase (Chapter of Shadow), Utsuki and Kureha arrive at the Fujiwara mansion to find their father. At the same time, during the beginning of Yang Phase (Chapter of Light), Doman's disciples, including Sakuya , enter the manor to investigate the strange incidents occuring there. Utsuki and Sakuya become separated from their respective groups, and occassionally meet one another.
As the story progresses, the protagonists learn of Doman's true evil nature, Utsuki and Kureha’s father. The strange occurrences are a result of Doman's attempts with performing the forbidden Kuon ritual, which involves fusing a person with other corpses inside of a massive cocoon. Once this is done nine times, the person is "reborn". Doman uses his disciples, the manor residents, and even his daughters to form the Kuon spell. Sakuya and Utsuki also meet the mysterious Mulberry Twins numerous times throughout the game. Later, the protagonists learn that the twins are involved in the Kuon spell.
At the end of the two Phases, Sakuya's fellow exorcists all died and Utsuki's sister Kureha, revealed to have died before the game's events, merging with Sakuya's older brother, becoming a hideous monster. Meanwhile, Utsuki and Sakuya separately enter the underground area beneath the manor, where Doman is working to perform the Kuon spell. Utsuki, learning that she fused with other corpses eight times, is driven mad and attacks Sakuya.
The Kuon Phase (Chapter of Nine Grudges) is the unlockable and shortest chapter in the game. It starts with Utsuki coming back to her senses and releases Sakuya. Utsuki begs Sakuya to get away from her, but the latter vows to find a way to save her friend. At this time, Abe No Seimei arrives. After meeting with Sakuya.a, and later with a deformed Utsuki, Seimei finds and battles Doman, who had been wanting to use Seimei's body as part of the Kuon cocoon. After Seimei kills Doman, he stated that if only he completed the Kuon spell quickly, his death shouldn’t have happened. Doman’s real intention in performing the ritual was to defeat Seimei. Utsuki, who appeared after the battle, is unable to stop herself and drags her father's body away and pushes it into a wicker chest, herself close behind. Seimei kills the remaining twin by impaling a spike in the Mulberry Tree, the other twin being killed by Sakuya by burning the Mulberry Tree at the Shrine.
Seimei decides to destroy the chest because they are not sure what creature will emerge from it. Sakuya convinces Seimei not to kill Utsuki, stating that Utsuki haven't seen the outside world. The master exorcist reluctantly decides not to.
During the credits roll, Sakuya is seen leaving the manor with Utsuki being reborn from the ritual and the summon card Saiga.
In Kuon, the player moves their character by tilting the analogue stick in any direction. The player can also make their character move faster by running; however, this drains the character's health and if executed for long it will cause a Vertigo, which attracts any nearby enemies. The player can use meditation to restore their character's health (while they are standing still), as well as use herbal medicines and holy water from the menu.
There are two types of attacks in the game: melee (physical) attacks and magical attacks. Melee attacks are performed with the character's weapon, be it a knife (Yin phase), a fan (Yang phase), or a spear (Kuon phase). Magic is divided into two types—attack spells and summon—both of which are performed with magic cards. Attack spells include various fire- and ice-based spells. Summoned beings perform a variety of tasks, from attacking creatures for you to trapping them and causing a one-hit kill. The player may also summon creatures to serve as bodyguards as well.
Utsuki - Is a young girl who is looking for her father. She and her sister venture forth through the gates of the manor, not knowing what they will find.
Sakuya - Is one of Doman's followers and is a skilled fighter and trained in the arts of exorcism (Onmyojitsu).
Doman Ashiya - Is the local exorcist ( Onmyoji) of Kyoto. He is also the father of Utsuki and Sakuya's teacher. He left his daughters at home when he ordered Sakuya and his other followers to come with him to investigate the manor.
Interview with the producerEdit
In an interview featured in the game's official guidebook, with Atsushi Taniguchi (producer), it was stated the following:
- Kuon is set in the Heian period . What was the reason behind you choosing this time period?
Taniguchi: It was because it was a strange time, even for Japanese history, in which it wouldn't be strange for there to be odd creatures and beasts. It had a unique view with regards to things like lifestyle, makeup and old court music, and charmed by their sexiness we chose the Heian era.
- Were there things you found during construction of the world view and creation of the characters etc. that were made easier or harder due to the Heian era setting?
Taniguchi: Particularly with regards to creation of the characters, I don't really have any memories of struggling with anything, but gathering material was tough. There are lots of books about it, but naturally there are no photos. But working on Kuon proved to be a good opportunity to learn about that era.
- Kuon plays out in multi-scenario format and is divided into three chapters (Yin, Yang , Kuon). Please tell us why you used this system, and why you wanted it to play out over multiple scenarios.
Taniguchi: I wanted people to enjoy the scenario and wonder what comes next, what happens. To create that situation, we decided that having multiple scearios would be most fitting, and went with that.
- Did the techniques used in Kuon actually exist? And if so, please tell us about the experience that led you to use them as a basis.
Taniguchi: They didn't actually exist. Japanese people have a dislike of the numbers four and nine, don't they? Since we were making this game as a horror game, I wanted to put one of the two in the title. I also wanted to convey that the game was a horror game just by looking at its title, so I put it forward as a suggestion, but in terms of pronunciation you can also see that it's either "Kuon" (nine malices) or "kuon" (eternity).
- Please tell us about the systems such as "Tempest" and "peeking" that are used in this game, the things that led you to think them up, and the difficulties you had in making them.
Taniguchi: Humans get unsettled when unexpected things happen, don't you think? These systems were what we thought of in order to produce that unease. We had thought of the peeking thing before TGS, so implementing it wasn't all that tough, but keeping on schedule was an issue.
- Please tell us about your aims and issues with the seal system.
Taniguchi: It's a successor of the system used in RUNE , a game I produced before. The members of the development team were the same, so we had no issues with creating it. While there may be people who think the controls are too tricky and can't get on with the game, I think that since the controls are used intuitively they're easy to enjoy.
- Please tell us what led to you choosing Kyosuke Chinai for the game's main visuals.
Taniguchi: I searched in earnest every day with the guys in charge of PR. We were looking for illustrations that had an impact and would suggest fear, being scared, and it was Mr. Chinai's picture that had us all agreeing that "this is the one!".
About the background of the worldEdit
- Is there a particular reason that Abe no Seimei is female in this game?
Taniguchi: Games with strong protagonists where you can defeat enemies with ease can also be exilharating and make you feel good, but what we wanted to embody with this game was a fear with "colour". In that case, we thought it would be most fitting to go with things that have a feminine image like meekness and sexiness, so we made her into a woman.
Taniguchi: They were created with the image that Utsuki = feeble, Sakuya = proficient exorcist. By making the weapons oppose this image, it became not very game-like.
- Were there buildings and things you used as reference when creating the manor?
Taniguchi: We took reference from Heian-period constructions in general, so I can't really point out anything in particular.
- There are wickered chests scattered all over the place; are they all being used for secret techniques?
Taniguchi: Yes. They're supposed to have been in use at various places by Ashiya Doman .
- After the special techniques have been performed, what happens to the merged person's consciousness, memories and appearance?
Taniguchi: Although after entering the wicker chest once their consciousness and memories remain, their body begins to ache for another merge. Merging with other living things causes their life to end, and their self-awareness gradually begins to crumble with each time they repeat the process.
- I think that the girl at the end is Utsuki reborn, but is it possible to also assume that she is an incarnation of the mulberry tree born via the Kuon method? Also, what happens to Utsuki and Sakuya after the ending?
Taniguchi: While this title has only just been born, I want to talk about making a sequel, so that's a secret.
- Please tell us if there were any ideas for seals, characters etc. that were dropped.
Taniguchi: Since we had experience with the summon system itself from RUNE, we made our choices carefully from the start. Because of this, there weren't really any ideas we dropped.
- The game is based on ghost stories. Did any ghostly phenomena occur while the game was in development?
Taniguchi: During development there wasn't really anything, but since we finished working on it, there have been a few things... The main graphic artist slipped on the stairs and broke a bone, the TV switched off while we were showing the game and the air felt weird... I just say it's in people's imaginations.
- Finally, please leave a message for the readers.
Taniguchi: Kuon was created foremost to allow people to enjoy horror. I think even those who aren't so good at action games will be able to get through it without too much hassle. However, because it's like a haunted house, if you don't have a certain amount of courage... I really hope you enjoy it.
- In Japanese, Kuon can mean "Eternity" or "Nine Grudges".
- The game is based on an ancient Japanese horror story called Kwaidan.
- Kuon is set in Kyoto, Japan from the Heian-era.