Kuon, developed by FromSoftware, was one of the survival-horror video games I tried to squeeze in the month of October because of Halloween, but I ended up playing it into November. It took me a month to complete because I took my time and did not play every day. You can complete the game in 10 hours or less. Despite the game’s short length, Kuon is exceptionally great and is now on my top list of favorite games. Let me explain.
The art direction in this game is superb as it reveals a simple but strong plot. The use of sound effects and music created an intense horrific and isolating atmosphere. There were a few times, I was startled. And yet, at times, it was not all scary. The sound of nature (e.g., footsteps, stream, wind) can be heard throughout the game, giving life to the atmosphere.
The placement of the sound effects (monsters groaning, monk chanting in the temple, the twins singing) in the game was not overdone or overused. They all served a purpose and integrated well to build suspense and tension. They also acted as subtle cues to steer me in the right direction, without acknowledging that I was playing the game. I was in the game.
Lastly, the three different protagonists (all females with unique personalities), played in three different phases, summarized the story so well that it left me feeling awe and sorrowfully happy.
Because of the game’s art direction, I was drawn to the game and understood the plot. This game is about the perversion of immortality. The father is so driven to perfect the spells at the expense of his own daughter’s life and his disciples that he loses his humanity. The father, an authoritative figure, is evil and must be defeated by the master exorcist, who is like a motherly figure. She rebukes the father and put things back in order.
This was the impression I got from playing the game. Without the art direction in this game, the story might have not been told well. It might have been another horror video game. But this one is special. It taught me something: We will die one day, why not enjoy the life we are given now in the present moment instead of tampering with something beyond our scope of reasoning?