Folklore PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Game Republic
Release Date: Out Now
Folklore is an action adventure game that constantly switches between the real world (in a placed called Doolin, a coastal village in Ireland) and the Netherworld. You’ll play as both a young woman named Ellen and a journalist named Keats who works for an occult publication. The game begins with Ellen taking a boat to Doolin because she has received a letter from the mother she hasn’t seen for many years. Keats arrives in Doolin after he receives an anonymous phone call begging for his assistance. The two meet up at the top of a cliff in Doolin. Keats thinks that Ellen may be the woman who has phoned him, but she isn’t. Both can see a woman sitting on the edge of the cliff. Ellen assumes the woman is her mother and is horrified when the woman seemingly topples over the edge. Both are visibly shaken by the experience but things are set to get much weirder.
I have to be honest here and say that to begin with Folklore actually seemed pretty dull. The reason for this is that the storyline really takes a while to become interesting. The game takes place over seven chapters. Actually make that twelve chapters because both Ellen and Keats have their own five chapters before the final two. You can either play through Ellen’s and then Keats’ chapters (or vice versa). Actually if you do decide to complete a character’s first five chapters and then do the other character you might find the storyline a little strange. I was so disappointed with Ellen’s first chapter that I decided to give Keats’ first chapter a go. To my surprise, I found that Keats’ first chapter actually helped make Ellen’s first chapter make much more sense. Needless to say I carried on alternating between the two characters for the first five chapters. I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed it half as much and the story wouldn’t have made as much sense, if I’d have played Ellen’s first five chapters first.
During the daytime you’ll get to explore Doolin (regardless of whom you are controlling) and search for information and clues. The daytime sections are a little flat to be perfectly honest because there’s not a great deal to do. The game could definitely have used some more adventure elements in these portions of the game. It’s only when night-time comes and you enter the Netherworld does the game become really interesting.
The Netherworld is made up of different realms and each realm has many different types of Folks. Folks are strange creates that you’ll need to capture and control in battles. Basically you’ll defeat a Folk and then capture their Id by holding down the R1 button and pulling back the Sixaxis controller. This will enable you to collect their Id and then use that Folk in future battles. There are many different Folk in the game and they all have their elemental alignments and advantages and disadvantages. You can map four of the Folk to your square, triangle, circle and X buttons to allow you to quickly select them in battle. It pays to have a good selection of Folk at your immediate disposal because certain enemies can only be harmed by certain Folk and some will require you to attack with combinations of different Folk. There are times you’ll want to use Folk who will shield you and there are times when you’ll want to use a Folk’s elemental strength against a weaker enemy.
Folklore is an enjoyable game but there are some aspects of it that could have been so much better. Daytime in Doolin is tedious to be honest. There’s hardly anything to do and this feels like a wasted opportunity. It’s also unfortunate that the Keats’ levels play pretty much the same as Ellen’s. Yes the storyline is different (and compliments Ellen’s storyline) but you’re doing pretty much the same thing. There are loads of small loading times, which break up the action. Thankfully you can install data to the HDD but there are still some load times to contend with even if you install the game. The game is also highly repetitive and even the optional quests you can take on don’t do much to change this.
Graphically, Folklore looks good although in some ways it could have looked better, especially in regards to the character models. Doolin looks very good and certainly looks how you would expect a small coastal village to look like. In the day time you’ll get to meet the villagers and at night-time you’ll get to see what can only be described as weird spirits in the village. The graphical highlights of the game can all be found in the various realms of the Netherworld. Here the characters and the environments look both unusual and impressive. The game uses a mix of cutscenes and graphic novel style sequences to carry the storyline. It’s a bit of a strange mix but it works well. The game does suffer from frame rate issues at times and it can get a little choppy on occasions, which is disappointing to see. Thankfully these frame rate issues don’t harm the experience.
The game is subtitled and the subtitles are enabled by default. In fact, there’s not much speech in the game, which is very surprising. As we’ve already mentioned, there are cutscenes and graphic novel style sequences and both are subtitled. The in-game conversations are subtitled too, with the characters comments being display in speech balloons. The game’s tutorial messages are all in text meaning you’ll have no problem in getting to grips with the game. In short, Folklore is fine for deaf gamers.
There can be no denying that Folklore is an odd game. It’s a real mix of genres and as such is definitely an acquired taste. The storyline is slow to become interesting and to get the best out of the storyline you’ll have to alternate between playing Ellen’s and Keats’ chapters, otherwise things won’t feel right. However, once the storyline does begin to warm up it all becomes far more interesting. The battles you have in the Netherworld can be repetitive though and more effort could have been made to make Keats’ chapters completely different from Ellen’s as this would have cut down on the repetition. For those who do invest their time in the game, Folklore is definitely one of the more interesting PlayStation 3 games to date.