Expectations were low for Folklore. After all, Game Republic, the game’s developer, made the dreadful Genji: Days of the Blade before Folklore. After some hands on time with it, however, Folklore has all it takes to become a pleasant surprise in a holiday season filled with blockbuster games.
Folklore follows the story of Keats and Ellen as they journey through the town of Doolin, which is a gateway to the Netherworld. Both came to Doolin for their own reasons: Keats, an occult reporter, receives a strange call from the mystifying village while Ellen receives a letter from her deceased mother telling her to meet up in the town of Doolin.
Although Folklore’s graphics aren’t technically impressive, it is still beautiful. This is thanks in large part to the incredible art direction. The monster designs, especially, are so creative and unique that they looked like they came from Alice in Wonderland or Hayao Miyazaki films. The game also runs smoothly asides from barely noticeable little hiccups of frame rate here and there.
The music in this game also has an Alice in Wonderland feel to it: very unique and interesting. Despite the heavy accents, the Voice Acting is also excellent.
Folklore is an Action RPG which places a lot of emphasis on the action part. The game is essentially a dungeon crawler with one town and a couple of break points littered throughout the dungeons. Puzzles are non-existent, meaning Folklore is all about fighting hordes of enemies.
Gameplay is simple: use your Folks, creatures of the Netherworld, to attack other Folks. When attacked, the blue IDs, or souls, of the Folks will temporary stretch away from the their bodies. Do enough damage to the Folks and the blue IDs will turn red. That’s your cue to grab their IDs and absorbed them into your body to gain experience and new Folks.
The HUD includes HP and Mind Capacity gauge, which limits the amount of times you can use your Folks to attack. The HUD also shows which Folks is assigned to which face button.
The differences between the two playable characters Keats and Ellen are minimal but noticeable. Keats’ Folk attacks are more combative while Ellen’s Folk attacks are more strategic. Moreover, the absorption methods for tougher Folks are different: Keats uses Beat Absorption mode (which requires you to move the Sixaxis left and right to beat the IDs on the ground) while Ellen uses Timing Absorption mode (which requires you to pull the IDs at the right time). In addition, Keats gets a special gauge called the Transcension Point gauge that gives Keats temporary invincibility and more powerful attacks once it fills up.
The game controls in the following ways:
Left Analog: Moves the character
Right Analog: Moves camera (the left and right directional buttons also does the same thing)
L1: Puts the camera view to behind your back
L2: Bring up a menu which lets you assigned different Folks you have acquired to the four face buttons
R1: Grab on to IDs when they turn red
R2: Quick strafe
L3+R3: Activate Transcension mode for Keats after the Transcension Point gauge has been filled up.
Circle: Attack with the Folk that is assigned to this face button
Square: Attack with the Folk that is assigned to this face button
Triangle: Attack with the Folk that is assigned to this face button
X: Attack with the Folk that is assigned to this face button
Sixaxis: Used to capture red IDs by flicking the controller up. To capture red IDs in Keats’ Beat Absorption mode, move the Sixaxis from side to side to beat the IDs on the ground and then flick the Sixaxis up once the IDs stop resisting. To capture red IDs in Ellen’s Timing Absorption Mode, you have to flick the Sixaxis up once the IDs turn red (it well rotate between the colors red and green) a couple of times.
The final product of Folklore will include over a hundred different Folks in seven different dungeons. The game is expected to last around twenty hours; that’s not counting the dungeon mode, in which gamers can create, play and share their dungeons. The game will also have downloadable content as well.
The expected release date for Folklore is October 9th. In a holiday season full of big games, make sure you don’t overlook Folklore.