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A 2004 survival horror game developed by From Software and published by Agetec for the Play Station 2, Kuon is based on ancient Japanese ghost stories. Set in Kyoto during the Heian period, it tells the strange, dark and grisly tale of a cursed mansion and all the terrors that lurk within.
The story is told from the point of view of two very different young women, each of which has their own separate phase:
- Utsuki, daughter of Doman, an exorcist who was forced out of service because of his unorthodox methods. Her phase is the Yin, the Chapter of Shadow. She and her sickly older sister Kureha go to the mansion in search of their father, who has gone missing after being assigned to exorcise the demons that haunt the manor. She fights with a dagger, and can also use spells.
- Sakuya, an exorcist of great skill and Doman's female disciple. Her phase is the Yang, or Chapter of Light. She and the rest of the disciples - Dokai, Dochin, and her older brother Doryou - are summoned to the mansion to investigate and aid their master in the exorcism. She helps Utsuki on numerous occasions. She fights with a fan, and can perform magic, spells and summonings.
If you complete both the Yin and Yang stages then you can unlock the Kuon phase. Here you play as the legendary onmyouji and Doman's bitter rival Abe no Seimei, as she (yes it's a she) takes it upon herself to solve the crisis once and for all. Her weapon is a spear, and she has unlimited magical ability. Only by completing the Kuon phase can you attain the true ending.
The opponents our two protagonists face are the Gaki, the mansion's former inhabitants (or what remains of them) who have been turned into bloodthirsty ghouls and malevolent phantoms that are randomly encountered throughout the game. Other characters include the owner of the mansion Lord Fujiwara, his wife, their daughter Ayako, the high priest of the local shrine and the mysterious unnamed twins who crop up every now and then, either to deliver cryptic information or just generally be creepy.
The plot is developed through a series of reports, documents and diary extracts, and can prove pretty complex. However the setting, while chilling and bloody, is also beautiful and the suspense created by the music and lighting (or sometimes lack thereof) gives the game a great sense of depth.
- Aloof Big Brother: Doryou, when he's not being a Jerkass, though he does help Sakuya occasionally and makes a point of how even he can be nice at times.
- Berserk Button: When one of the twins is killed by Sakuya, the remaining twin loses it. She shows up later, drenched in blood and near death.
- Blade on a Stick: Seimei's sacred spear.
- Body Horror: Your average Gaki is small, bloated creature half-rotten and covered in blood, but that doesn't compare to demons like the centipede-woman (who literally tears herself apart when she transforms) or the incomplete cocoons, which look like humans wrapped in silk that drag themselves across the ground, moaning pitifully. Most of the corpses are also horribly disfigured.
- Covert Pervert: Doman, who mentions in his notes that he intends to have Seimei whore herself to him.
- Creepy Basement: The caves beneath the shrine function in this manner.
- Creepy Twins: Do they need an explanation?
- Dark and Troubled Past: Utsuki who accidentally caused her sister's death when they were young, and has been living with the guilt ever since.
- Dead All Along: Kureha, who died long before the start of the story and was ressurected.
- Decoy Protagonist: Both Utsuki and Sakuya, who will both be put out of commission. Abe no Seimei is the true hero.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: Doman after going insane and creating the curse.
- Dying Dream: One theory is that the whole of the Yin phase was just Utsuki remembering what had happened after Kureha kills her.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Every single character, especially the women.
- Femme Fatale: Kureha plays this to Doryou.
- Footprints of Muck: If a character walks through a puddle of blood, which happens often, they will leave bloody footprints. It later turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun of sorts; at one point in the game, if a character steps on a really obvious puddle in the middle of a room, it's an instant game over.
- Gender Flip: The female Abe no Seimei.
- Gorn: And how! Blood covers the floors, the walls, the ceilings, and you can't walk down a hallway or into a room without finding at least one half-eaten dead body...
- Grand Theft Me: In order to stay alive Kureha merges with the bodies of others, including Fujiwara, Ayako, Doryou, Utsuki and their father.
- Haunted Castle / Haunted House
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: Whenever an enemy is near.
- Hime Cut: Utsuki, Kureha, Ayako
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Doman.
- Horror Hunger: The Gaki have a ferocious appetite for human flesh. Particularly that of young girls...
- Ill Girl: Kureha
- Improbable Weapon User: Sakuya's fan, made even more unusual by the fact that she can cut things with it.
- Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Everywhere. Everywhere.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: "Hashizoroe". The name refers to a ceremony where a child is fed with chopsticks for the first time. Scary, right?
- Keigo: Being set in the Heian period, of course everyone speaks this way.
- Kill It with Fire: The most effective way to kill the demons. Or anybody for that matter.
- Mad Onmyouji's Beautiful Daughters: Kureha and Utsuki, though they're not all they seem...
- Manipulative Bastard: Doman who sends his remaining daughter, disciples and all the inhabitants of the manor to their deaths just so he can try and prove he is more powerful than Seimei. The bastard!
- Miko: Utsuki and Kureha could be considered this, since they are the daughters of the shrine and know how to use certain types of magic. They look the part as well. Seimei greatly resembles a miko.
- Mind Screw: You have to play the game several times to get the plot straight, and even then it's near impossible.
- Offing the Offspring: Doman manipulates Kureha into killing Utsuki. It's also implied that Lady Fujiwara killed her son in a fit of hunger.
- Ominous Fog
- Onmyodo: Seimei, Doman and his disciples are all onmyouji and most of the magic in the game is based off onmyodo, including the spells, seals and puzzles.
- Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Have an annoying habit of appearing every where you go, in chests and boxes, from behind doors and even falling on top of you from above.
- Plucky Girl: Sakuya, who seems mostly unfazed by the curse or the creepy mansion, and calmly slaughters the Gaki left and right. Even Utsuki qualifies, since she continued searching for her father despite how afraid and alone she was.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The demonic souls of the mulberry trees were sealed to prevent them leaving their bodies. Naturally, they were released.
- Staking the Loved One: Sakuya is forced to destroy her brother after he is affected by the curse.
- Stringy Haired Ghost Girl: Kureha under the influence of the curse greatly resembles one of these.
- Summon Magic: Used to summon familiars, including Utsuki's Big Badass Wolf.
- Tall, Dark and Bishoujo: Seimei.
- The Fair Folk: The twins, who alternately give information and play dangerous pranks - such as shutting Sakuya in the room with a gaki - act like this.
- The Stoic: Sakuya and especially Seimei, who remains serene even under horrific circumstances.
- The Virus: The Kuon curse, which is passed from person to person and causes them to go mad and devour other humans. Unless they merge with their victims, they will eventually perish.
- You Have to Burn the Web: Subverted. The silk webs can only be destroyed using a special item, despite you carrying a flaming knife/fan and fire talismans.
- Zombie Gait: The Gaki move like this. At least the ones that have legs...