Kodoku

To create a Kodoku, a sorcerer must place a number of insects in a jar and allow them to fight until there is only one survivor. The fluids of the surviving insect can be used as a poison to control or kill the victim, or the insect itself can be used as a kind of wealth charm. In return for riches, the owner of the insect is expected to provide it with food. If they do not the spirit will be enraged and eat the owner of the Kodoku charm.


This ritualistic magic, thought to stem from Chinese Gu (poison) magic that supposedly concentrated poison by forcing a number of deadly insects and arachnids to fight each other until there was only a single survivor, has formed the basis of a number of anime and manga. Now it forms the basis of a game. Although it’s being developed by the very British Carnivore Studios, Kodoku is an incredibly Japanese game, drawing from Japanese mythology as well as some more contemporary sources, such as the works of Lovecraft (an author beloved in Japan) and Edogawa Rampo, a famous Japanese horror novelist with a style similar to his phonetic namesake, as well as modern horror manga and anime.

YOKAI WAR
Set on a small, abandoned and haunted island, Kodoku casts the player as an investigator sent to retrieve a rare book. Exploring the island will reveal the nature of the paranormal phenomena that plague the place but of course place the researcher at risk of supernatural wrath. Rather than allowing the player to fight back against the ghastly beasties that inhabit Kodoku (the island and the game), players will instead have to resort to stealth, hiding and sorcery to escape or evade danger. Utilising shadows, listening for audio cues for danger and causing distractions will all apparently be the flavor of the day.

To aid this play style, the player will somehow be able to temporarily focus the investigator’s sense, making it easier to detect nearby danger. How this will work has not been revealed as yet. The finished game will also feature a crafting system allowing the player to combine different objects into useful spells, essential for distracting enemies and solving the many puzzles that dot the island. Fingers crossed one of the crafting recipes will call for a glass jar and a number of hungry insects.actual gameplay has been shown as yet, but the footage we’ve seen of the game, combined with the especially creepy, body-horror centric teaser trailer definitely make us hungry to see more of Kodoku.

Horror games far too often invest their main characters with too much agency and power to make the situations they are stuck in particularly scary, but the lack of weapons and giving the player no real ability to fight back against the demons and spirits of the island, combined with the incredibly disturbing art style definitely make Kodoku look like a real nightmare maker.

BUGGING FANS
The Carnivore Studio crew ran an unfortunately unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign to create and distribute a prequel comic called Kodoku Origins, detailing the history of the island before the start of the game. The comic would have featured the story of a priest and his companions on the island succumbing to madness and insectile death, in a story the Carnivore crew described as being like “'Spirited Away', but in a Horror way”.

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