Unknown Realms

Sunday 24 September 2006
The recently-announced PS3 RPG Unknown Realms was on the TGS show floor and -like many of PS3's titles - was unmissable from a distance with its glimmering visuals. Starting out in a hazy meadow packed with watercolour-painted flowers that kick up petals as you jog through them, it's very much a next-gen eye-candy workout in the style of Kameo on Xbox 360.

Of the two playable characters, only Ellen featured in the demo, wearing a more fantasy-styled outfit than her more realistic get-up in previous footage - leading us to guess she lives some sort of double life in the magical worlds. There were no story sequences to clue us in, though, only a handful of scraps with imp-like creatures, fire-breathing flying fish and mardy plants.

Combat is real-time and when a monster is killed it glows red for a second, signifying that you have the chance to nick its powers to add to your abilities. To do this, you need to lock on to it and then shake its soul free with some pad-tilting action (with direction indicated by arrows on screen), before finally lurching the pad upwards to pop the soul out. Its power is then assigned to a spare face button on the pad to call on in later fights.

Above: Combat comes down to a scissors-paper-stone of finding out what works best with different monsters and monster powers

Each power may be more or less effective against different enemies, so it paid to shuffle powers around depending on what trouble we were expecting - there are no random battles here, as you can see (and even avoid) enemies in each area before combat. If there's a wide enough variety of monsters in the final version, figuring out different combinations of powers could be a lot of fun.

But as is the way with brief show demos of RPGs, Unknown Realms managed to stay mostly unknowable - we're certainly interested, though, and look forward to seeing more.