Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom should have had a much bigger reception, it is a wonderful game which is filled with depth and plays out like a storybook. It holds these elements many games at the moment don’t have – a welcome breath of fresh air. I bought it not expecting much, to tide me over until The Last Guardian came out (similar in that you are playing with a companion) and was very pleasantly surprised.
You, the thief, come across this Majin at the start and build an unlikely friendship, the relationship grows as you both face many trials and go through several adventures together – through all of this you learn more of the backstory, told through the Majin’s view and experiences. It feels extremely absorbing and left me eager to keep playing to find out more and continue this meaningful relationship.
The Majin himself gains powers along the journey, these are for various things and he can use these powers to help you solve puzzles or beat enemies. The enemies themselves are slimy shadow type creatures, of a similar ilk to the ICO ones. They tie into the main story. On many levels you can choose to take a more stealthy route to kill/avoid the enemies, or just go in head first – I am never good at stealth (sorry, Splinter Cell!) so I tended to, more often than not, just blunder in with weapon brandished. Sometimes with the Majin, sometimes without – in some levels he can join you, or you often need to activate a gate or such for him to come through due to size etc. He can also be told to wait should you not want him drawing aggro. He can handle himself quite well, there are moments where certain enemies will perform actions such as jumping on the Majin’s back to attack and you need to cut them down – I always felt very satisfied helping my friend out there and would rush across. The key element tying the game together is the relationship you build with the giant creature and he becomes more than just the narrator of the kingdom’s story, he becomes a true companion and it adds a new element of warmth and care to the game, that isn’t often seen in many games.
Our big friend’s AI is quite accurate – I never had any real problems of him getting stuck anywhere or not doing what I asked. It felt very responsive compared to many others I’ve played, such as Resident Evil – where the AI just seemed to have its own idea or stare at a door wondering what this contraption was! He also talks to you throughout, sometimes prompted and sometimes just randomly – it’s quite charming. His design is very adorable, he may not look particularly attractive but his large imposing stature and posture, plus lumbering walk make him quite a sweet character to interact with. He can be climbed on and used also – his size is very important and useful. You feel sympathy towards him after hearing his story and seeing the flashbacks. They are told in a very stylized manner with different art and graphics.
Through the story I felt very attached to the Majin and his suffering, and yearned to get him to where he wanted. Equally, the Majin always doted on you and wanted to help whenever possible, even if he himself was in danger – this made boss fights quite an interesting battle. We were both ultimately working towards the same end and point, so it was a touching partnership wherein there was a passion for something. The companionship elements has similar aspects to Ico and the relationship you had with your partner – though she was mysterious and the story was quite different, it’s easy to see similarities and charm.
The game feels varied without repetition, and many different puzzles which are challenging enough to enjoy, but not too difficult, a very nice balance which seems to have been well thought out by the developers. I tend to balk slightly at puzzles in games as I find them quite difficult – however these were just the right amount to remain enjoyable. You feel quite compelled to complete everything to keep continuing on the journey to help the Majin.
The overall look of the graphics are quite impressive – for a game that is ultimately lower budget, it is of a good production quality and feels like it had love poured into it. The worlds are immersive and unique with landscapes and places you wish to explore – though often blocked off by invisible walls and barriers.
Some people do complain the voice acting is a disappointment – it was not the best, the thief felt a bit stilted at times, but to be honest, I didn’t really notice it bringing down the quality of the game. I personally felt that the Majin spoke as something of that size/intelligence/background, etc, would talk. There were moments in the game that really made me smile such as finding treats for the Majin and his excitement when he gets them, and building the relationship with him. I found myself actively looking for all the items in the game, all the hidden treasure chests, etc – as I wanted to please my friend and max out his powers.
Overall it is very fun and engaging for any age and is a beautifully told story, from people who’ve obviously put a lot of care and thought into the development – which shows. It’s magical and unique, and is very memorable – having finished it several months ago, it still has a special place in my heart – hence writing this review now.
A fantastic combination of adventure, fantasy, story, relationship and puzzles – told through a unique manner and gorgeous art stye with compelling characters. It has been quite overlooked and more people should pick it up and give it a go!