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.The combat in Folklore is not hard to pick up. The use of each folk is mapped to one of the face buttons. In order to defeat the enemies you will use different combinations of folk and try to counter the opposition. One of the coolest features in the game is the way the SIXAXIS motion controls are implemented. Once the enemies’ loose enough health, they become stunned and their Id is exposed. Once the Id is exposed you must lock onto it and literally pull it away from the folk. For most battles this is a simple flick of the controller, but some of the bosses get a little more involved. It was easy to pick up and a lot of fun. I’m glad that the developers didn’t try to cram too many motion controls into the game.
The graphics and visual effects in Folklore are top notch. The character design is outstanding. The characters look like something out of a twisted Tim Burton film. Each has a very distinct look, but they all share a dark haunting theme. The level design is also amazing. There is a sharp contrast between the dark look of Doolin and magical look of the Netherworld. Each of the settings help you stay fully submerged in the game. The Netherworld in particular is filled with colors and sounds that can only be described as mystical. If you love games with great art direction and twisted characters then Folklore will surely impress.
Folklore is heavy on story and in order to tell most of it you will be watching a fair amount of cut scenes. Instead of using a single method of storytelling, Folklore uses a mixture of presentation styles. You will have some pre rendered CG cut scenes outside of the game play engine, comic book style storyboards, and traditional dialog boxes. Like with any RPG, you will feel slightly detached from the game when the cut scenes kick in, but since Folklore uses this original mixture of storytelling sequences you will not find yourself overly bored.
Folklore is not a game for everyone, but those who are looking to get lost in a magical world of mystery will find a rewarding gaming experience. From a graphical and art direction standpoint there is nothing like it on any console. The mystery is engaging and even though the levels are linear you will find yourself taken back by the beauty. Collecting the many folk in the game becomes addicting and the controls are very satisfying. Folklore is an action game hidden in traditional RPG clothes, and while this may disappoint some gamers, no PS3 owner should miss out on the adventure.
Folklore is not a straight forward RPG and it's also not your typical action game. Folklore is a unique blend of both and a solid game that shows just how powerful the Playstation 3 can be.
Rating: 8.4 Good
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I got attached to gaming at a pretty early age when I first played pong on my uncle's Atari. I have continued gaming ever since and play during most of my spare time. I am currently a working as a legal assistant for the man, but who knows about the future. A few of my other favorite things are comics, film, and music.
Some of my favorite games are Goldeneye, Metal Gear Solid, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, GTA, and Zelda: Twilight Princess.
My favorite comic books include Watchmen and Batman:Year One, but there are many others I love.
I enjoy all kinds of music, but a small sample is Joy Division, Gang of Four, The Beach Boys, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
As for films... I like a lot of these too, but a few include Batman Begins, Fight Club, Se7en, Pan's Labyrinth, Godfather, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Some times I am accused by my friends of being an elitist geek, but I don't think that is entirely true. After all, its not my fault I like cool stuff. View Profile