Folklore is a game that completely flew under my radar. Usually I feed on a steady diet of previews, trailers, and screen shots for an upcoming game… then the game gets delayed and I get pissed off. After waiting and anticipating more, the new game finally hits retail in a self made storm of expectations. That didn’t seem to happen with Folklore. I am kind of glad it didn’t happen that way though, because it makes playing the game a very nice surprise. It’s a lot like finding that long lost five-dollar bill you so cleverly stuck in a comic book when you were moving. It’s good and the bottom line is that Folklore will make a great addition to any Playstation 3 library.
Folklore is an action RPG that is heavy on the action. The game begins when two people are mysteriously summoned to the small Celtic town of Doolin. Keats, a journalist who specializes in paranormal activity, and Ellen, a woman in search of her long lost mother arrive on the outskirts of town and find the body of a woman. They believe this woman may be the person who summoned them to Doolin and instead of running for the nearest train station; our heroes embark on a journey for answers. What unravels next is a complicated murder mystery that takes Ellen and Keats beyond reality and into the various realms of the Netherworld. The Netherworld is the home to the spirits of the dead and the only place where the living can speak with those who have passed away. It is a world filled with magical colors and amazing creatures.
The story in Folklore starts a little slow, but things start to gradually pick up around the half way mark. The seemingly simple murder mystery has a lot of twists and turns to keep you interested. I don’t want to spoil any details about the story because the mystery is one of the best parts of Folklore.
Through out the game you will play as both Keats and Ellen. Folklore is broken down into seven chapters for each character. Five of these chapters are essentially the same for both Keats and Ellen, but in order to reach the end of the game you must play through all five chapters with both characters. Unfortunately, this meant I felt as though I was replaying the beginning and middle of the game. On the bright side, you can choose to play through the first five chapters with one character and then repeat, or skip back and forth moving one chapter at a time. After having played through the game I would suggest you skip back and forth simply because it keeps the story fresh in your head. This slight issue is probably my biggest complaint with Folklore and it didn’t annoy me too much. After all, you do gather added insight into each character’s back-stories and fight slightly different enemies through the five chapters.
The game play in Folklore is fairly straightforward. The action elements of the game take place as Keats and Ellen battle their way through the Netherworld. The Netherworld is filled with all kinds of spirits or folk as they are called in the game. Some folk are friendly and help you along your way, but others are not so nice. Keats and Ellen do not have any traditional weapons to battle the folk; instead they suck up the souls of the folk they defeat and use them to battle others. This adds a pretty addicting collection aspect to the game. It was fun to battle new folk, knowing that once they fell I could add them to my arsenal.
The RPG aspect of Folklore is very minimal. As you battle and defeat enemies, your folk will gain experience points. Instead of having the player micro manage the experience points gained, the folk level up automatically as you play. Experience points are allocated to different folk the more you use them. This could be a bit of a disappointment to gamers hoping for a deep RPG, but I still found it enjoyable. Beyond a fair amount of talking and some remedial tasks, the game play is largely action oriented. The game is also completely linear. You will travel back and forth through the straight levels without the ability to explore. Some added side quests and open environments would have been very nice addition to the beautiful realms of the Netherworld.
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