TOKYO--Earlier today, during a visit to Sony's large Tokyo Game Show booth, we had an opportunity to play through a 15-minute demo of Monster Kingdom: Unknown Realms for the PlayStation 3. The third-person action role-playing game sees you playing as either a girl named Elene or a guy named Keats and tasks you with battling against all manner of monsters as you explore what appears to be a quite beautiful fantasy world.
At first glance, Monster Kingdom looks a lot like any other action RPG--you play from a standard third-person perspective, there are health and magic bars in the top-left corner of the screen, and although you have some limited offensive and magical abilities available to you from the outset, you'll learn new ones that can be mapped to the PS3 controller's face buttons as you progress.
As we played through the demo, though, we realized that Monster Kingdom boasts at least one really interesting gameplay mechanic: As you defeat many of the monsters that you encounter, you'll learn the ability to summon them. One of the first abilities that we learned, for example, let us call forth a small monster that fired bubbles up into the air--the move didn't look particularly devastating, but at that point in the game, it was the only one that let us target flying enemies.
The first flying enemies that we used the bubble move on also added an interesting move to our repertoire when we defeated them, since their method of attack was to temporarily incapacitate enemies by pouring honey down onto them. This move proved to be very useful in some of our subsequent battles, though a complete waste of time in others. It's clear, then, that figuring out which abilities to use against which enemies will play a big part in Monster Kingdom. One of the most useful, though not particularly interesting, monster summons that we learned toward the end of the demo let us call forth a creature resembling a large cat. This particular monster appeared only for a few seconds each time we summoned it, which made it feel more like some kind of melee attack than a summon. The beast was very powerful, though, and made short work of the majority of the monsters that we pitted it against. The only other monster summon that we learned during our time with the demo was for a creature resembling a blue flying fish that could shoot fire out of its tail.
Perhaps the most interesting monster that we encountered in the demo (with the exception of a large plantlike boss at the end) was a black, furry yeti-type creature that reacted much like a puffer fish whenever it was threatened. Its floppy fur would suddenly stand on end to form giant spikes, making the monster appear to almost triple in size. We didn't learn any abilities from that particular monster when we defeated it, unfortunately, but we'd like to think that you'll be able to in the finished game.
The most surprising aspect of Monster Kingdom, at least from our perspective as someone picking up the game for the first time, was the game's use of the PS3 controller's tilt functionality. After knocking monsters down to the ground or incapacitating them with repeated attacks, the easiest way to finish them off appeared to be ensnaring them in some kind of magical lasso (for want of a much better word) and then struggling with them by tilting the controller in accordance with onscreen instructions. Capturing creatures invariably involved tilting the controller from left to right and back again a number of times before tilting it up to finish the move. The tilt functionality of the controller worked very well, though the moves were obviously very simple and required very little in the way of sensitivity.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Monster Kingdom: Unknown Realms on this occasion, though we were a little disappointed that the expansive-looking environments couldn't really be explored--rather, you were confined to pathways that, at least in the demo, made for a completely linear experience. We look forward to bringing you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.