Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is an upcoming action-adventure title from Tokyo-based developer Game Republic whose previous works include Genji: Days of the Blade, Folklore, and Clash of the Titans. You’ll assume the role of a pony-tailed thief named Tupeu. In his travels he encounters an imprisoned titan named Majin, who he releases from captivity. The pair quickly needs to learn how to work with each other’s strengths to restore the once beautiful forest kingdom they inhabit that has been consumed by dark forces.

Forsaken Kingdom has drawn comparisons to Team Ico’s The Last Guardian, that was notably absent from E3 this year. Publisher Namco tells us that the game’s design is instead inspired by the films of Hayao Miyazaki, which explains the adorable titan. The biggest element of gameplay revolves around the partnership between Majin and Tupeu. After having been imprisoned for 100 years, Majin is fairly weak at the outset thus early parts of the game requires the player to find power fruit in the lush forest world to help the titan regain strength. Once Majin regains some power, it can lift large gates and remove other obstacles from your path. You can also command the titan to restore health, attack enemies, and wait or follow your character. Majin can also help elevate Tupeu to hard-to-reach places.

Enemies in Forsaken Kingdom are anthropomorphic tar-covered creatures that presumably were once people themselves, an element we expect will later be explained through the game’s narrative. You can fight these enemies using combo attacks, or more effectively stealth attacks by creeping up from behind. As previously mentioned, you can also send Majin after swarms of enemies once it gains enough strength. If both characters are in battle, you have to keep an eye on them both. If enemies surround Majin and begin to climb the giant, it’s up to you to defend your partner and fight them off. Though these mechanics would lend themselves well to co-op play, Namco tells us the game will strictly be single-player to help the player build an emotional attachment to both characters.

The environment can also be used as an offensive tool. In the demo the duo was perched on a ledge above a group of enemies. After luring enemies toward them, Majin pushed a giant block over the ledge smashing foes underneath. Finding other ways to take on large groups of enemies is key to survival as they can quickly do quite a number on our main character. Once Tupeu takes a substantial amount of damage, he will slowly become consumed by black sludge, which is a cue to head over to Majin for health restoration as opposed to a typical damage indicator on the HUD.

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is an attractive title that borrows Team Ico’s partner-based gameplay mechanics in a new world. Forsaken Kingdom is due out for Xbox 360 and PS3 this winter. While we’re fairly limited on details at this time, I’m hopeful the game will offer enough unique mechanics and polish to stand against the flood of AAA titles that hit over the holidays. It could be a real win for Namco if done right.