Unknown Realms Preview
First off, we're not really certain of the final title for this intriguing third-person action/RPG crossed with Adventure. Initially, it was Monster Kingdom: Unknown Realms, and now, Gaia and SCE may have dropped the first part of the title to leave us with just, Unknown Realms. But whatever the name is, things are certainly shaping up nicely.
They had a 15-minute demo of the game at this year's Tokyo Game Show, and certain things have become apparent. For example, it seems you'll be able to choose between the female character, Elene, or the male character, Keats. Regardless of who you choose, you embark on an adventure that involves a gorgeous fantasy world and a ton of artistically impressive monsters.
On the surface, it may seem like your quintessential action/RPG; you tackle your foes from the typical third-person camera view, the standard health and magic screen displays are evident, and you can map a few of those special magical abilities to the controller. All of that is something we RPG fans are quite familiar with, but it seems Unknown Realms might be taking things a step further.
First off, the demo showed players a fresh new gameplay mechanic that is bound to get our attention. As you travel through this vibrant, enchanting world, eradicating evil monsters along the way, you'll actually be able to summon many of those enemies you encounter and defeat. One of the first skills learned is the Summon of a little creature that shoots bubbles into the air...it may not sound all that devastating, but early on, it's the only way to target flying foes. To us, this sounds similar to something like Kameo.
Then, after you've defeated those pesky flying enemies with your newfound "bubble" monster, you'll get yet another ability granted by the fliers. Because they would dump this honey-like substance on you from above - in order to slow you down, obviously - you suddenly gain that potentially useful ability. Therefore, as you progress through the game, you'll continue to add to your arsenal, thus allowing you to approach enemies and perhaps other obstacles in a variety of different ways.
Demo players got one last gift just before their experience ended, and this was the summon of what appeared to be a large cat. It only shows up for a few scant moments, but it's a mega-powerful ally who can literally decimate large groups of enemies you may encounter early on. But there are reports of other summons as well, one of which is a blue flying fish that can somehow shoot fire from its tail. Overall, we expect you're supposed to take strategic advantage of all your summons, and while the correct decision may create an easy victory, the wrong decision may be disastrous...
Then there are those monsters that appear mysterious and even borderline useless at first. There's this Abominable Snowman-type creature (except it's black, not white) that reacts a lot like a scared puffer fish whenever enemies threaten. We have no idea what good comes from having your fur stand on end to form the illusion of extra size, but we imagine there's a use for every monster in the game.
And yes, this game is yet another PS3 title that will utilize the Sixaxis' tilt functionality. After swatting enemies to the ground with your attacks, the simplest way to finish things is to use this magical lasso of sorts to rope up your foe. Then you start to struggle with the monster - for ultimate capture, apparently - and you actually tilt the controller left to right a few times before tilting upwards to finish the maneuver. Hopefully, this will be relatively easy to accomplish.
Lastly, the title does appear to be mostly linear, at least from the impressions one gets from that demo. Exploration may be quite limited due to a certain path you're required to traverse, and this may or may not impact the overall atmosphere. But one thing's for sure- there's a great deal of originality in Unknown Realms, and when it comes to blending some unique Adventure aspects in with the action/RPG genre, we're all for it.
11/8/2006 Ben Dutka