A “heartwarming puzzle-action game” — that’s how Namco Bandai describes their upcoming PS3 game Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom. Majin is being developed by Game Republic, a studio that boasts several former members of Team ICO and a track record consisting of PS3 fan favorites such as Folklore.
Majin’s fantasy world looks highly stylized, with “shadowy, storybook visuals” in the words of Namco Bandai producer Daisuke Uchiyama. According to Uchiyama, the team wanted to create “something everybody can relate to…something familiar, nostalgic.” See Majin in motion below and judge for yourself.
You play as Tepeu, a mysterious thief who possess the ability to communicate with animals. Encroaching into a “forsaken kingdom” overtaken by a dark force, Tepeu comes across an imprisoned golem-like creature — called a Majin — and frees him. Named Teotle, the Majin follows the thief out of gratitude, thus forming an unlikely alliance against the murky forces of the forsaken kingdom. Majin’s gameplay always focuses on the symbiotic pair of the powerful Teotle and the nimble Tepeu. If you played BioShock, you can think of the slow, powerful Teotle as a Big Daddy and the nimble Tepeu as a Little Sister. That is, if Little Sisters were known for swordsmanship and acrobatics. Or having a Y chromosome, but I digress…
Tepeu and Teotle need to scratch each other’s backs frequently in order to survive encounters with the evils of the forsaken kingdom. In combat, you’ll face armies of tar-like creatures that will quickly overrun your spry thief. Luckily, the powerful Majin can bowl these guys over effortlessly and give you a chance to land a lightning-quick final strike with Tepeu. You’ll need to help out the Majin sometimes, too, by knocking snarling dogs off its back and fetching fat, revitalizing “power fruit” when it’s hurt. Mmmm…power fruit.
Though you don’t directly control the towering Majin, you can issue broad commands easily via a radial menu and the Majin does the rest auto-magically. During puzzle sequences, the Majin will respond to your orders contextually. Order it to “Crouch” and you’ll be able to jump onto its massive shoulders to reach high places; order it to “Act” and it might spew fire-breath to light your bomb’s fuse so you can blow a hole in a wall. Sometimes, the enemy hordes may be too much for even the rough-and-tumble Majin, so you’ll need to use the environment in creative ways, such as ordering the Majin to push a crumbling wall onto an enemy mob.
Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is currently scheduled for late 2010. What do you think of the art style and the two-character symbiotic gameplay? Leave your impressions and questions in the comments, and I’ll try to shed some light.