Cosmology Of Kyoto Soft Edge Inc. / Yano Electric Co., Ltd. 1993

One of the most unique and thought-provoking games ever made, Cosmology of Kyoto is a fascinating tale of religion, history, and superstition that ranks among the least-known but worthy games of all time. The game is set in the 10th and 11th centuries AD, during the Heian period in Japan when Kyoto was known as Heiankyo. The game includes episodes drawn from a large body of tales, legends and illustrated literature produced during or after the Heian period. These vignettes are edited into interactive, experiental forms, to allow the user to realistically sense the worldview and lifestyle of an ancient time. The game was inspired by The Tales of Genji and similar Japanese folktales. Your character in the game is a no-name male traveler, an ordinary human being who is faced with opportunities, driven by desires, and is bound to die. Your actions determine your path through this world, and many reincarnations to come. You may meet troublemakers, and demons, enter Paradise or Hell, be reborn, and re-enact the story of a scholar who played the devil in a high-stakes game of backgammon. In addition to very well-drawn authentic backgrounds, the game includes an excellent database of over 400 screens of text and pictures that gives background information for the time and place where you are in the game. Calling it a "game" is a bit misleading - you don't get to solve any elaborate puzzles in traditional point-and-click adventure sense. Any item you carry with you will be used automatically when the time comes, so you can't really get "stuck" in the game. Cosmology of Kyoto is better described as an interactive story that lets you interact with the game world at your leisure, similar to choose-your-own-adventure books. And what a world it is. The designers spare no pretense, no illusion that this is a "politically correct" or "family" game. Heiankyo comes alive before your very eyes, with all the gory details and harrowing images that its inhabitants truly faced or believed. A must-have, especially for anyone looking for a mature, meditative game that is a far cry from today's superficial releases. An English release came out in 1995.
ISO Demo 264MB (uploaded by scaryfun)
Full Demo with DOSBox 319MB (uploaded by The Collection Chamber)

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