It’s a shame how poorly Game Republic’s action-adventure Folklore sold considering how fantastic the story and the sixaxis implementation are. After seeing its abysmal lifetime sales from the NPD, I felt compelled to give this gem a little justice. If you’re one of those PS3 owners who neglected this game, continue reading on as Folklore is one of the hidden gems the console has to offer.
The game opens up with Ellen, a blond university student who lost her mother at an early age, reading a letter she just received. The letter was signed by her supposed dead mother, informing her to meet her at Doolin. At the same time, Keats, an editor for an occult magazine called Unknown Realms, received a phone call from a woman begging for help as she claimed Faerys will kill her before being cut off. Curious about the event, Keats also departed to Doolin.
Upon arriving, both Ellen and Keats discovered a murdered woman falling down a cliff. Who was the murderer, and did Ellen’s mom really send the letter? In order to solve the crime, they must venture into the Netherworld – the realm of the dead – where they’ll meet mystical creatures, the murdered people and villagers from the past. They will aid Ellen and Keats by giving them information about their grudges and past.
The narrative is divided into two parts: Ellen and Keats. Each story is divided into multiple chapters, and after you finish a chapter, you are given the option to continue that individual’s story or begin a chapter with the other individual. Both stories will converge around the end, so you won’t be able to complete the game until you’ve finish both Keats and Ellen’s story. This concept is pretty interesting because each character tells a different perspective to the story, and sometimes you’ll meet the other character on the village.
As you go on with the story, you’ll encounter more murders which makes it more suspenseful and keeps you wondering what will happen next. Folklore does a great job at playing with your mind as you’re led to suspect many characters as the culprit, but in fact, they weren’t the culprit at all. Folklore loses its charm once you replay it as you’ll know who the murderer is. The ending is weird and confusing which can upset a lot of players, but it’s fun coming up with theories.
Not only does Folklore have a great story, but it excels at delivering it. Folklore uses numerous ways to tell the story which keeps the story fresh and entertaining. Some storytelling techniques include CGI cutscenes, one on one character dialogue, and for the most part the comic book style scenes, but not everyone will appreciate it due to it being a little annoying when the comic scene shakes or when the music doesn’t fit the mood.
During the day, you’ll be interacting with the villagers to look for clues or memorabilia of the victims in order to gain access to the Faery Realm. At night, you are able to enter the Faery Realm and acquire some incredibly designed folks. One of the biggest annoyances when dungeon crawling through is the camera. It is difficult trying to adjust the camera to see fit especially in small corridors. To acquire a folk, you have to expose his Id by hitting him repeatedly until it pops out or by exposing his weakness. Once the red Id is floating above him, you yank it out by holding the R1 button and thrusting the controller upwards.
Each level has a unique set of folks and each folk has their own way of showing their attacks which keeps battling fresh. For example, one folk might shoot small range fireballs, while another folk charges up for three seconds before releasing a large-range and powerful fire attack. Folks are assigned to one of the four face buttons, so you can only have four folks equipped at a time. There’s a slight pause when you change folks, and it gets annoying after a while because it slows down the pace of battles.
When you absorb an id, you gain experience for the character you’re currently using, and absorbing more than one folk at a time increases the rate of experience you gain. Folks also have the potential to level up by releasing their karma. Some require you to give the folk a certain number of items while others require you to absorb the same folk a certain number of times. It’s a great idea to release their karma as they’ll learn new techniques and decrease the consumption needed to summon that folk.
Boss battles are pretty interesting because you have to use certain folks in order to expose its id. Throughout the level, you’ll discover pages that shows the boss battling a few folks which advises you to use those folks to battle the boss. Instead of moving the controller upwards to yank out his id, you’ll be playing a small sixaxis mini-game, and it is by far one of the best implementation of the sixaxis feature. One boss might require you to balance his id by tilting the sixaxis controller while another boss might require you to pound his id to the ground repeatedly by moving the controller left and right. It takes a while to get used to the sixaxis mini-games, but the sixaxis sensor is very responsive.
The biggest problem with the game is that it gets awfully repetitive. You’ll go through the same levels and fight the same bosses with both characters. It takes away a lot of the fun and suspense from dungeon crawling as you’ll know where the save points and boss battles are. There are minor differences between both characters like Keats’ folks are more of a brawler type while Ellen’s folks are more elemental. Also, Keats is able to transform into some sort of monster, giving him incredible strength. Ellen, on the other hand, can change cloaks and each cloak gives her immunity to different ailments.
Graphically, it isn’t the most impressive game, but its visual attractiveness comes from its fantastic art direction and designs. The character and level designs are incredible filled with great details and color which brings out the atmosphere and environments to life. Having a cloudy, yet old fashion look on the village gives it a mystery aroma which perfectly sets the mood. There are a couple of technical issues like framerate problems when there are loads of folks, pauses while changing folks and long loading times. Even with the optional 1GB install installed, the game still encounters this problem.
The music is wonderful with its orchestral sounds, but as I stated earlier, it doesn’t fit the mood during some comic book scenes. Hearing that piano tune in the village is very relaxing, and I just leave it there when I’m doing chores around the house. The battle theme is probably the weakest song in the game, and I feel the battle theme is practically the most important theme as it constantly plays throughout the game. It’s not bad or annoying, but it’s definitely underwhelming compared to the other fantastic tunes. Voice acting is extremely good with its English accent, but there’s only voice acting during CGI cutscenes; the game keeps CGI cutscenes at a minimum.
Aside from repetition and a couple of performing issues, Folklore is a charming title. It uses the sixaxis feature very well and makes sucking out Ids enjoyable. The game oozes with fantastic art direction and a compelling story that will keep you coming back for more. Folklore is a hidden gem.
An interesting and suspenseful murder mystery story and excellent art direction. A couple of issues with repetition and framerate problems.
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Great use of the sixaxis and each folk performs their attack in a unique way. Going through the same levels and bosses gets a little tedious.
Great voice acting and music but nothing stands out. The only tune that has the potential to be memorable ends up being underwhelming.
It should take around 12 – 15 hours to complete the game. There are a couple of quests to do, folks to capture and a nice dungeon creator.
Folklore delivers a fantastic story and art direction.