Magical and Mystical
What gamer in this world, being an adventure lover, could resist the looks of this title? Isn’t the game enticing enough with its mysterious creatures, out-of-this-world environments, and all the magic that surrounds it? The first impression is very important; it’s what brought you all here and made you start reading this article, and it’s what will make you rush to the stores and buy the game or rent it to see if this one suits your taste buds. Nothing but your own taste will decide if this is a game you should play, but you should know it’s at least quite promising, even if it didn’t go as far as I expected.
Folklore is a game of, well, folklore. It’s inspired on traditions, legends, and enigmatic worlds everyone would love to visit at least once in their lives to see what the heck it’s all about. Of course, nothing is further from the palpable reality and only a game or a movie will offer us the chance to travel to those obscure and seemingly never-ending realms. The game does a really great job portraying those worlds and its creatures, monsters, fairies, and spirits. Its story is entertaining, and rich with imagination and allegory. That’s exactly what sets this game aside from others, even if the simplistic controls and slow paced rhythm of the game leave a lot to be desired.
The game lets us into the world of Ellen and Keats. They’re two independent characters that are brought together by one event. They’re both trying to figure out what happened years ago when a woman mysteriously disappeared in the town of Doolin. She happens to be Ellen’s mother, and that’s why Ellen arrives into town looking for answers. Keats is a reporter and wants to research the case as well. Together they witness some strange happenings, and they both end up, one at a time, submerged into the Netherworld. The Netherworld gets the living in touch with the dead, using memories to create that connection. Their mission there is to find their much needed answers, but it won’t be easy.
The Netherworld is plagued with creatures and monsters that our characters will have to deal with; advancing through the environments is continuously handicapped by these encounters. Although the game wants to be an RPG, its innovation doesn’t exactly make it part of the genre. This doesn’t mean the game is bad; it’s just different. Most of the fights are resolved by using your acquired powers and button mashing. And how do you attain those powers? Simply by killing the creatures and sucking up their Id or soul. After a few hits, their Id will show up on top of them and glow in bright pink. That’s when you have to react, hold R1 and move up the controller with a quick motion. The more Id you obtain, the more power those new attacks will have. You can easily assign each of the powers to the SIXAXIS face buttons. L1 will serve for targeting, and pressing R2 right after will allow you evade before you’re attacked.
Both Ellen and Keats will visit the numerous realms of the Netherworld. However, they will do it on their own, which is an interesting choice because it makes the player go through each chapter twice, once with each character. Even though the story is quite linear, repeating what you’ve done will slow down the pace and break up the storyline a little too much. There will be some differences though, like the fact that Ellen and Keats will encounter different creatures and obtain their own special attacks, as always, fueled by their Ids. They won’t really join forces until more towards the end.
There are seven different environments spread through these interesting chapters, each with their own characteristics, monsters, and creatures that give the realms a life of their own. You’ll find yourself dwelling into deep forest, walking around big open fields, or exploring the undersea. You’ll meet several amazing bosses and you’ll have to figure out how to fight them. Some more advanced creatures require a bit of strategy in order to defeat them. Not all the attacks work against everyone out there; you’ll have to use your intuition often to take care of them.
Folklore is very visually appealing. It’s displayed at full force with wonderful HD resolution; it really transports you to another world. Colorful sparkles full of magic decorate the Netherworld. The character design is quite spectacular, and it won’t get you bore. Each creature has been designed with care, mixing up the species and coming up with bizarre but highly interesting hybrids of elephants and flowers, seals and dogs, cougars and dragons, or monkeys and hogs. There are also little leprechauns that will give you tips on how to approach the enemies and continue on. Doolin looks exactly like the typical small Irish village from the coast. If you’ve been to Ireland, you’ll agree with me. There’s great attention to detail, and if this was followed by real environment interaction, this game would have it all. Well, almost all.
The game is indeed quite slow, and you’ll have to have some patience to get through the first part of the game, which is the prologue. There’s no real cutscenes throughout the game, and the lack of voice acting makes the game harder to follow and enjoy. Character interactions are displayed like a graphical novel, bland and static as can be; that bored me. Although the music is totally adequate and fit for the title, it is at the same time too relaxing and produces a dozing effect. Nice and lighthearted piano tunes accompany the characters through the levels, and more engaging and rhythmical music prepares you for action. Mysterious voices and drizzling sounds produce a mystical environment that really sets the mood. Unfortunately, sometimes the mood is interrupted by loading screens placed in every corner; this gives the game an outdated feel, along with the totally non-interactive surroundings.
With all the magic and fairy-tale elements involved, I would highly recommend this title for a Halloween night at home. It’s not very frightening but it’s definitely sinister and kind of creepy. Only you can decide if this game is for you, but I can at least say it’s been made with love and TLC. Give it a try and see!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.3 Graphics
Gorgeous in most ways, but the characters lack expression and energy. More cutscenes should have been added to the equation, to make the game more dynamic. 3.5 Control
It’s not much more than button-mashing and limited use of the Sixaxis motion controls. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Beautiful and relaxing piano tunes are mixed up with music that sets up the mood for action. Magical sound effects resonate through the mystical environments. If only there was some voice acting we would have managed to stay awake! 3.5 Play Value
This is a good game to play the first time around, as long as the slow pace doesn’t bore you too much. 3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.