What Is Kurayami?

Tokyo, Christmas Eve
Tokyo, Christmas Eve

暗闇 ~くらやみ~ (Kurayami, official English title: In Darkness (🔞 link) ) was developed by Melody/Panda House and released for the PC-9800 series on 5 1⁄4″ floppies on July 26th, 1996. The Windows 95 version (with full BGM arrangements and a save state system) on CD-ROM was released a year later, June 23th, 1997. All music was composed by PANDA (Yuki Nakayama). In Darkness was a big enough hit to get a Windows 95-98 spiritual sequel released on September 13th, 1998 titled Kurayami 2: Tozasareta Meikyuu (Closed Labyrinth).

The PC-98 version (FM Sound Source) of Reunite with the Past, which plays during sentimental scenes. This heroine is Mari Watanabe (渡辺まり) , the first you meet and the game’s cover girl.

In Darkness is primarily an R-18 adventure (visual novel) with horror and romance subgenres. Rather than featuring multiple endings, it’s a multi-scenario work. There are 9 Routes total (3 Routes for each heroine). Getting the Happy End for each scenario takes at least a few playthroughs, usually totaling a half hour each time.

Mari Andou (安藤マリ): suffering just a stomach bug, or something deeper?

Interestingly enough, each heroine is named Mari, albeit spelled differently (hiragana, katakana, or kanji). The protagonist’s name is Mamoru (meaning “to protect” in the game’s usage), but his name can be changed within the game menu options. The circumstances between you two change from Scenario to Scenario. Sometimes the heroine and protagonist have a shared past, other times they’re complete strangers. How their relationship develops, for good or ill, all depends on the player’s actions.

“Christmas Eve…in a suddenly suspended elevator……A lone man was left behind in darkness alongside a woman…Fellow strangers……Is that a demon’s laughter tearing through the silent holy night? Is that a witch’s smile floating within deep darkness? A vivid anthology!”

Official Description
Mari Mizuno (水野麻梨), with troubles on her mind.

Mari Watanabe’s character designer was female adult-manga artist/illustrator Himuro Serika, Mari Andou by Ken Ryuusei, and Mari Mizuno by Kiwi Onokawa (aka Kochi Munakata). The scenario writer for In Darkness was Melody regular (usually as a scenario writer, a director, or on staff), Asami Mashira. Founder of Panda House, composer PANDA (Yuki Nakayama) has written music into the 2010’s.


Japanese review (may contain spoilers (🔞 link)

Another Japanese review (may contain spoilers) (🔞 link)

English: Visual Novel Database (🔞 link)

English review (may contain spoilers)

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