A classic tale of a nameless boy and his loveable, yet also annoying-as-hell monster.Edit
A year from now, when the majority of Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom's action/puzzle/platformer gameplay is out of my mind, there is one thing I will still remember: the atrocious voice work for the loveable monster protagonist. Brought to life with speech resembling Barney the purple dinosaur (if he had skipped English class), the bear-monkey-dryad hybrid Majin seems like a dopey excuse for a hero. That goofy persona is part of his charm, and although he can barely walk (seriously, he trips and falls every five minutes) that doesn't negate the fact that he serves as the guardian to a kingdom of humans.
Told through beautiful 2D cutscenes, the story of this game begins after Majin failed to fulfill his duties as a protector. A hundred years ago, Darkness infected the kingdom's leaders and plagued the countryside, causing the death and destruction of almost everything. In the present, you'll play as a young male thief with a Dr. Doolittle-like ability to talk with the animals, and you meet the gentle beast in a sad state of affairs -- tied up and starved in a castle. The nameless thief rescues Majin and the pair teams up to take down four Dark Generals and the king in hopes of putting a stop to all the chaos.
You can't catch a ride on Majin's back, but you do get to control everything he does. Issuing commands is easy, and he'll follow, attack, eat to replenish his health, wait or crouch for you. He's essentially a well-trained dog. After he regains some of his skills, you can also tell him to use them on enemies or the specific parts of the environment to access other areas. For the most part Majin is obedient -- that is when he's not getting distracted by pesky enemies. You'll go from "aww"ing at Majin's clumsiness to cursing him for ignoring your commands and fighting enemies instead.With the giant stripped of all his former powers, you'll fight to locate massive berries to recharge his strength, stamina and abilities of fire, wind, lightning and purification. Traversing the world together, you'll have to fight off several different types of darkness-infected creatures to survive. Killing enemies releases gems to level up the thief as well as strengthen the bond between the two heroes. Battling side-by-side is encouraged, and doing so will net you more gems and initiate some cool finishing moves that vary depending on your friendship level.
Attacking is a simple ordeal as there's really only one button for a regular hacking and slashing and then two buttons you press in tandem to unleash a more powerful lunge. Also, if you're able to sneak up on an enemy you can take them out in one devastating blow. Until you level up the nimble boy, you'll likely have trouble fending off the darkness, and as your health goes down, you'll be covered in dark matter until you die. An untimely demise doesn't mean the end of the road, though. If your furry pal is still standing nearby, he has a short time limit to revive you. It's this limited way of healing -- Majin standing still and sucking all the darkness off you -- that makes battles irritating. Majin focuses more on fighting than helping you, so you can get stuck in some tricky situations.
There's never a dull moment on the battlefield and you'll constantly be fighting for your life. The game does an excellent job of introducing new enemy types that behave differently, including archers and weird bat-like things that get in your face. Since most of them can't see very well it's usually possible to run away to safety should you get in a lot of trouble, but you'll still be stuck with low health until Majin comes around.
Engaging in battles is only part of the action, however. Each area incorporates some light puzzle elements, like reaching a switch to open a door or to acquire berries for Majin. Unlike the enemies, there's not a whole lot of variety, and you'll pull a lot of switches over the course of the game. Most of the puzzles aren't terribly difficult to figure out, but there was one small section that stumped me for a while toward the end. The OCD collecters will love the fact that the map lists how many hidden items are in each section, so you'll continue to hunt for those remaining treasure chests and berries.
Every boss battle or Dark General can't be defeated by brute force and are more puzzle-based instead. I did find that they got easier as the game progressed instead of harder. These should have been some of the harder things to decipher; after all there are only five major battles, so it is disappointing that it's more challenging to get Majin to properly perform his powers than figure out how to beat a boss.The biggest annoyance about the game for me was the lack of a good fast-travel system. There's a lot of running back and forth to different areas, which is time consuming and boring. Fast travel is only unlocked a third of the way through the game, and it's still a trek to get to the Room of Transportation to do it. Because the game utilizes antiquated save statues, it would've been nice if you could easily warp to those instead of only a general area.
Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom tells a sad but clichéd tale with an endearing giant and his friend at the helm of it. This “puzzle platformer” won’t give you too much of a problem as the solutions are simple, but finding every collectible in the world will take quite a bit of effort. It's not without frustrations, but journeying with the goofy monster is an adventure most people will get a kick out of.