From a stylistic and technical point of view, Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is unlike most modern games. The pacing is often slow and thoughtful, and it lacks the intensity that we are used to seeing from other blockbuster games released this generation. It also has a quaint dedication to puzzle solving and platforming. Whether this is good or bad news will depend on what you are actually looking for in the game.
Co-op gameplay is central to Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom’s design. You control Tepeu, a mysterious kid who can speak to animals, and an AI-controlled guardian called Teotl (or the Majin) supports him. They could not be less alike: Tepeu is slim, athletic and human, while Teotl is a large and very strong ogre, who appears to have a shrubbery growing from his back. The difference in size is quite significant too: Teotl is massive next to Tepeu.
Their differences make them compatible. If a job requires climbing or squeezing through narrow gaps, or if stealth is the best policy, Tepeu is the man for the job – if the doctor ordered brute strength and an ability to breathe fire, Teotl is the ogre for you.
While Teotl can move around independently, you have to instruct him to do specific jobs. This is easy to do: hold R2 to open the control menu, and from there, you will see a selection of instructions. These can be straightforward requests to follow or holdback, or you can ask him to crouch, thus creating a platform from which Tepeu can leap to hard to reach areas. The system is very intuitive.
You can also ask Teotl to interact with objects. Here is an example from early in the game: we had to get to a higher platform so we asked Teotl to lower a nearby catapult, which we climbed into, and then asked him to release it, sending us flying through the sky. This is how many of the puzzles work, although as you progress through the game, and once Teotl learns more powers, the combinations can get more complicated.
You see, Teotl is weak in the beginning of the game, from being in prison for 100 years, until Tepeu came to his rescue on the first level. To restore his powers, Tepeu must guide him across the kingdom in a search for magical fruit. Of course, the greater goal is to save their kingdom from an evil darkness, and destroy the four Generals of Darkness responsible for the kingdom’s current dark state.
It is a large kingdom, one that will require many hours to explore, and it is an attractive setting as well, not as vivid and memorable as say Hyrule (Zelda) is, but it is a world you will be happy to explore. Each area offers something different, before ushering you into a boss battle. These boss battles are enjoyable, and in-tune with the rest of the game. They are not straight-up fights – you have to interact with the environment and exploit weaknesses.