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Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom PS3 creates a partnership of great interest. It leaves God of War's beaten track to discover what happens when we focus more on relational co-operation than simple head bashing.
Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom PS3 is an intriguing action adventure that challenges you with complex puzzles that require both brain and brawn. Not only did I have to worry about my own character, but I also had to utilise and protect my very own ogre, dressing up as lord and protector.
With both Majin and Enslaved it seems that Namco Bandai is trying to corner the market on games featuring two protagonists in a master/servant relationship. Whilst Enslaved may toy with who is playing which role, for Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom there is no ambiguity. You are the embodiment of the Majin ogre's free will, which makes the game's puzzles and combat a rather interesting experience, especially for one that enjoys manipulating my character so much in games.
Majin is developed by Game Republic, a small studio founded by Yoshiko Okamoto of Resident Evil, Street Fighter II, Time Pilot and 1942 fame. The studio also recruited talent from Team Ico, potentially explaining similarities between this and The Last Guardian. Regardless, you'll have to wait until next autumn for Team Ico, whereas you can play Majin this November.
On a recent play through, I got to experience both its intriguing world and the interplay between the two characters as they cooperatively try and bring light to a darkened world. Although currently unexplained, it seems that the thief you play is being guided by the animals he meets - including a very talkative rat that seems to have pop up around every corner.
You enter a dark and foreboding castle to start, presumably on the lookout for treasure given your vagabond status, but quickly discover the evil humanoid creatures that writhe with inky blackness. For the early action you are on your own and sneak, rather than fight, your way deeper into the palace.
Stealth in a game always rings alarm bells for me, after the many hours of swearing I subjected my other half to whilst failing miserably at Splinter Cell. The skulking here though wasn't nearly as taxing and struck a happier chord.
It's an interesting pairing particularly when there is fighting to be done.
Very quickly you lose your sword which leaves you in a predicament. Luckily though, those woodland creatures are quick to suggest a plan - free the Majin to gain your freedom and in the process rid the land of darkness.
Finding Majin, he turns out to be a lovable dim ogre. So a partnership is formed as your onscreen surrogate gets his own proxy. It's an interesting pairing particularly when there is fighting to be done. You can order Majin into great danger risking his death, or try and help him in combat while giving him directions. It's both complex and unusual, and a breath of fresh air after all those God of War clones.
Initially Majin's modus operandi is simply caving in the skulls of the dark creatures, but later on, by levelling up, he gains access to lightening and other offensive powers, which will add some variety. The collecting of new powers is also the primary means by which you will escape, since the creatures in your path grow stronger the further you explore. In that respect, the game may contain influences from Zelda and Metroid that open new paths with new powers.
From what I've seen, Majin has great potential for those of us relishing the prospect of total control of not just one, but two video game avatars.
Puzzles are a large part of the game. The first occurs early on and requires coordinated direction involving a trebuchet which you use to break walls and grant access to more of the level. This proved initially difficult due to some confusing hints, but in time I warmed to the mechanic.
The solution required the firing of both projectiles and then yourself up to difficult to reach levels, where sat the levers that uncovered additional weight for the trebuchet. This in turn allowed greater range and access to the final lever. The combination of trial and error, gnashing my teeth and the labour required left me a little nonplussed. I hope the other puzzles are less tedious and lean more heavily on having your own pet ogre.
From what I've seen, Majin has great potential as it revisits a classic videogame partnership mechanic. The game neatly sidesteps route one violence, instead focusing on combat and puzzle opportunities that the partnerships makes possible. Whilst it may not be the biggest game of the year, when it was time to give the controller back, I was a little sad at leaving my ogre behind.
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