Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Game Republic
by: Sam "Samoza" Tyler
Why in the fabled land of movies do two similar films often come out very close to one another – are there no original ideas in Hollywood? This phenomenon is less obvious in gaming, but when most first person shooters are indistinguishable from one another, perhaps it happens all the time? Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom appears, on the surface, to be Game Republic’s take on the upcoming Team Ico game The Last Guardian. Criticism has been levelled at how Majin appears to be a game based around a human character and his cute monster AI ally (seemingly similar to the Last Guardian). However, seeing as Last Guardian is not out until later this year (and probably slipping to 2012), there is plenty of breathing space for Majin to flourish alone and for it to be examined and reviewed as a game in it’s own right.
In a once peaceful world, an evil is rising and only charismatic thief Tepeu can save the land with the aid of the mystical Majin. Unfortunately, the Majin has grown weak over centuries of imprisonment and the pair must first build their power and experience if they are to defeat the evil. Rather than being the all out action game you expect from most modern third person games, Majin has a far more cerebral edge. You must tackle each segment of the game with your brain as well as brawn. Tepeu can ask the Majin for help via a series of simple commands; move this, hit that, heal me, etc. Before taking on a large group of enemies, and risking death, you can often use the environment to your advantage to even the odds, introducing a puzzle element to the gameplay.
On a purely aesthetic level, Majin appears to have had only a modest budget. The graphics are clean, but bland, the voice acting is occasionally painful to listen to and the various menus appear to be taken from the Playstation 1 era of gaming. There is no denying that many elements of the game are extremely clunky and will put off more fickle gamers. This is a shame, as just below the surface is a fun game with a nice central relationship. As the game progresses you grow to like the cocky assuredness of Tepeu and the docile humor of the Majin. Their relationship drives the story onwards and makes it a far more engaging experience than your typical faceless game.
With an emphasis on puzzles as much as action, Majin is a more sedate experience than any other third person action game I have played in recent years. Whilst the likes of Namco Bandai’s own Enslaved caters for those with a short attention span, Majin is equally as good, but in a different way. If you are in the market for a slower paced game that works the mind - as well as finger speed - then Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is certainly worth a purchase (especially as it is already coming down in price).