Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, despite its premise of a kingdom drowning in a literal darkness, feels somewhat lighthearted and bright when you play and listen to it. It’s a shame, then, that the simplistic combat and inordinate amount of backtracking drags down what would otherwise be yet another overlooked gem by Namco Bandai.
The beginning of the game starts off well enough as, aside from some questionable voice acting, you’re given the backdrop to the story: someone built a kingdom a long time ago with the help of a majin, or a strong non-human being, and a century ago it was overrun by a physical darkness of some kind. You are Tepeu, a thief who can speak to animals, and you are attempting to find the majin so that he can help you beat back the darkness and restore the forests and kingdom to their former glory. The story is told very nicely, with artistic cutscenes and the best voiceovers in the game.
There are two attacks you can do, and you can also dodge enemy attacks. One of the two attacks is a combination attack with the majin, but it can only be done on critically-damaged enemies, so it won’t happen very often. The majority of the combat will be done by the majin, as your standard attack will do very little damage to the enemies. Due to this, nearly every fight other than boss fights will follow the same formula. First, allow the majin to knock down the enemy. Second, wail on the downed enemy with your standard attack until given the sign for your combination attack. Finally, use the combination attack on the downed and nearly dead enemy. Rinse and repeat. Boss battles, though, are a refreshing change of pace, as they require you to use the various elemental powers that the majin will learn in order to beat them.
As you progress through the game, the majin will learn four elemental powers: wind, lightning, fire, and crystallization. Most of the time, these powers are only used to help you through the various puzzles put in your path rather than helping to diversify the combat. The large amount of backtracking you’ll have to do to progress through the game doesn’t help things. Every time a new area opens up for you to play in, it seems as though it is on the exact opposite side of the world from where you currently are.
Visually, Majin is somewhat impressive. It has bright environments, though none of it is particularly breathtaking. As for the sound, the voiceovers during the cutscenes are well done, but the rest of the voice actors sound as though they were budget hires.
Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom’s promising story and an attractive world ultimately aren’t enough to overcome the mind-numbing combat that gets you through it. There are moments worth experiencing, though.
Pros: Bright, cheery world; Story has promise
Cons: Simplistic combat; Too much backtracking