When playing Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, you can’t help but think this game is different. Not ‘good different’ or ‘bad different’, just different. Maybe ‘Ico different’, for those of us who remember that title for the PS2. Just like Ico, Majin was developed by a Japanese studio and delivers a digital fairytale that might not be ‘hardcore’ enough for some gamers but will enchant others.
In Majin, you play the role of a young thief who sets about finding the Majin, a large creature that once fought ‘the Darkness’ that threatened to engulf the entire kingdom. After that battle, he was locked inside the royal castle where you eventually find him chained and weakened. As the young thief, you manage to free the Majin, find out his name is Teotl and together you set out to banish the Darkness from the Forsaken Kingdom once and for all. The two then start to work together, and the Majin names you Tepeu. Hey, it sounds better than ‘thief’, right?
With the help of the much bigger and stronger Majin you battle the forces of Darkness, giving him simple commands that are specific to certain situations. For example, you can lure the enemy into certain areas and havr the Majin push a wall onto them, and later on you can perform various feats of magic as well. In this sense, despite being a puzzle platformer at heart, Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom has some thin role playing elements where the main character develops and acquires new skills as the game progresses. It works well in keeping the game flowing despite a relatively open world that requires quite a bit of backtracking at times. The way this relative aspect works is that at first you’ll find areas that are inaccessible, but as the Majin gains power you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles and gain entry to the full map.
As I pointed out, this game is best described as a puzzle platformer, and good examples of that are the situations where you have to give the Majin a ‘wait’ command because you are about to venture into an area where he can’t go. You are then tasked with having to reach a certain switch in order to enable the Majin to pass safely, but of course this requires having to get past enemies without the support and strength of Teotl. Once you join up again, the game’s pace might very well shift to full-on action before encountering a new dilemma to tackle. All in all, very nice changes of pace that keep the gameplay interesting as the story moves along.
Over the course of your adventure, which offers great value for money with its considerable length, you never quite get the feeling you are being tested to the limits of your gaming abilities. While you might also call this game an action adventure, it plays out at a much more leisurely pace because of the accessible difficulty level.
In terms of technical delivery, Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is not the visual feast that other recent titles were, or that Ico was when it came out. Still, the environments are (for the most part) lush and colorful, though not all the cutscenes are convincing and at times the voice acting is passable at best. Note that this may be because I was spoiled in that regard by the recent Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Majin might not blow you away, but finds enough of a sparkle to add to the otherworldy fairytale-esque experience that its story offers.
Those looking for a serious challenge might want to look elsewhere, but you could certainly do worse when you’re looking for a family-friendly adventure that appeals to younger and older gamers alike. Anyone interested in an endearing and well-developed story featuring two unique characters working together in a puzzle, action and platforming mix should give this one a chance though.