It was clear from our meeting with Game Republic's developers that they've been asked one too many times if they've been influenced by Sony's The Last Guardian. They were keen to point out that Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom had been in development long before the announcement of Sony's game. However, comparisons are inevitable when some of the staff on board Game Republic's development team worked on the critically acclaimed ICO, the precursor to The Last Guardian. But The Last Guardian is ultimately still a mystery, whereas Majin is a third-person adventure game destined to hit our screens in third quarter of this year. It combines platforming, combat, and puzzle-solving elements, along with a unique visual design full of strange creatures and vibrant colours.
Majin tells the story of Tepeu, a young man who inadvertently finds himself in the heart of a cursed kingdom. It had lain dormant for over a century after a strange darkness appeared and swallowed it whole. Those who tried to save it were killed by the darkness and eventually the land was forgotten. Playing as Tepeu, it's your job to destroy the darkness and restore peace to this kingdom. Fortunately, you don't have to go it alone. A huge horned beast known as Majin is there to help you along the way.
Our demo kicked off with the pair encountering a group of monkeys in a forest possessed by dark mud. The mud is an enemy's primary defense when you attack. If you come into contact with the mud, it slows you down. If you get too much of it on you, it's game over. However, Majin is immune to its effects and can heal you if you find yourself in a spot of trouble. To destroy enemies, you have a staff weapon. Your attacks are not particularly strong, but you make up for this with agility and speed. If you need to bring out the big attacks, then Majin is at your disposal. Though he is largely controlled by the AI, you can issue commands to him during battle. He is able to stomp on smaller enemies and smack larger ones away. He can also breathe fire and use electricity, though we were unable to see this in action. Chaining Majin's attacks with Tepeu's attacks creates combos, with Majin's powerful punches accented by the smaller more fluid strikes of Tepeu's staff.
Other areas require the use of stealth rather than all-out combat because enemies can hear and smell you coming. Startling one of them alerts the others, causing them to attack en masse. One example we were shown saw the duo attempt to infiltrate a dark area of the map. These are sections where the life within has been destroyed. Tepeu commanded Majin to stay put, after which he crept up behind one of the enemies. He then launched an attack that quietly took it out in one swift movement. He proceeded to take each of them out one by one, clearing a path for Majin to pass.
Another section we saw showed off some platforming and puzzles. Tepeu has the ability to speak to animals and can use them for hints on how to proceed. Here, he spoke to a mouse, who told him to make his way up a set of platforms. However, the platforms were too high for him to reach. He commanded Majin to bend down, which let him use Majin as a platform to jump on and reach the higher area. Though this was one way to reach the platform, we were told each challenge will have multiple solutions. That will also apply to enemies, and gentler players will be able to take a softer approach, while the more aggressive can leap in to indulge in full-on combat.
We were told the game will offer up 20 to 30 hours of gameplay, spread across five different worlds. There will also be a full weather system, as well as a day-and-night cycle in place, which will affect how to solve certain puzzles. Visually, the game is vibrant and colourful. Lush forests are mixed with worn-out stonework to create the feel of a long-forgotten ancient city. Though it has the look of Japanese game, the developers were keen to point out that many areas had been adapted for European audiences. Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is due out on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the third quarter of this year. Keep an eye on our Electronic Entertainment Expo coverage for more on the game in June.