It's easy to compare Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom to what we know of The Last Guardian, after all, both games involved a boy who is accompanied by a giant miscellaneous hybrid creature that tags along faithfully. Majin however, is an action adventure that combines platforming, combat and puzzle solving elements, similar to the Prince of Persia games. Our demo took us through the first part of the game, where we met up with the loveable majin (direct translation is demon god but an equivalent would be a djinn or genie) and set off into the kingdom to unravel some of its mysteries, as well as get to know the intriguing history behind the curious pair.
The story takes place in a once prosperous kingdom before a darkness engulfed the land and made the kingdom inaccessible. Those who tried to enter the kingdom were never to return. It's been 100 years since the darkness took over, and now a lone nameless thief has made his way into the ruins of the palace, which is where we came in. As the young rogue who has the ability to speak to animals, you can platform your way across the ruins of the decaying palace. This section served as a quick tutorial, which hasn't been finalized yet because the developers are still tuning the button configurations, but for now we were able to do basic maneuvers like jump and crouch. We quickly came across the majin, a huge horned beast who was bound the floor by a large pin. It mumbled and groaned, saying it was hungry, and eventually told us that someone had stolen its power and sealed it in a piece of fruit. By retrieving the fruit for the majin, it'll get its strength back and be able to free itself.
The palace ruins were not completely abandoned, as we saw skeletal creatures lurking around every corner. Without a weapon, our young thief wasn't able to do much, but he was able to toss a rock to distract the dark soldier and sneak past undetected. Land mines were also strewn about the area and can be activated by hitting it with a rock, taking out any enemies that are next to it. Once we found the large juicy fruit, we ventured back to the majin and it regained its strength to pull out the pin and finally free itself. The pin now served as our weapon, which was about to come in handy. Now that the majin was free and eager to come along, we were able to direct it to open heavy gates for us and even take out the evil sentries. It's smart enough so that if you were to ask it to interact with an object, and as long as it is able to do so, the majin will perform the action--whether it's opening a door or pushing down a wall to crush enemies. Now that we had the pin, we were able to protect ourselves from the skeletal creatures by wielding it like a sword. When one of these dark beings dies, a glowing purple orb floats above its body. This core needs to be absorbed by the majin, otherwise the enemy will eventually get up again and resume its patrol. Your big furry companion is not always at your side, so this is something to keep in mind as you move ahead alone or when you get separated. Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is an open world game, where you'll come across sealed gates that can only be opened once you defeat the right enemies. You're given a map to keep track of your progress, but how and where you go is entirely up to you.
Stealth does play a large role at times, especially when you become separated from your foliage-covered guardian. By distracting an enemy and then sneaking up behind it, you can execute a coup de grace and take it down with a single strike. Other objects in the area, such as explosive barrels, can also be helpful in disposing these zombielike beings. As you take damage, you'll start to accumulate some of the dark, sticky substance on your body, but your majin friend can absorb it from you and heal you back to full health. As you progress through the game, your friend can also gain fire breathing abilities, conjure up a blast of wind or harness lightning. These elements can be quite useful in combat, but they are also used to solve puzzles.
After making our way out of the dilapidated castle, the majin and our thief stopped at the tree of life and had an exchange that gave us some insight as to what is going on. It turns out that the majin is known as Teotl and it doesn't seem to remember much of what has happened to him. Because our young thief didn't have a name, Teotl decides to name his human friend Tepeu for now. The significance will come later, and even though the majin couldn't remember much, it was able to give Tepeu a glimpse of its past memory, which showed an injured Teotl and another woman, fighting tirelessly against a wave of enemies. While most of the game is in 3D and set in a luscious environment, what's interesting and a nice touch is that these flashbacks switched to 2D ink paintings, with lightly animated character silhouettes giving it a storybook feel.
After the story cut scene, we made one more stop outside the palace where we stumbled upon a trebuchet that could be used to launch rocks, as well as ourselves, to higher ground. This was just one example on how to use the objects that are available to you in order to progress. Using Teotl's strength, we were able to move the catapult around and aim it at wooden barricades to clear the way. Our demo ended there, but we're looking forward to seeing more of the game as it progresses. It seems to have a good combination of puzzle solving and action, and comes with endearing fairytale-like story and fascinating characters.
Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is currently set to be released this summer on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.