Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/09/07 | Genre: Action/RPG
Despite dominating the RPG genre for the past two generations of hardware, Sony has found themselves in a very unfamiliar position with the PlayStation 3. With sales of the Xbox 360 still far ahead of Sony's ultra-powerful PS3, Japanese developers have reluctantly embraced the 360 over the PS3, and the underpowered Wii, to become the console of choice for practically every single next-generation Role Playing Game that has appeared on consoles. Trying to fill the void in the PS3's library, Sony has given players Folklore. And while it isn't perfect, Folklore is a fun and enjoyable adventure that fans of the genre will want to play through.
In Folklore, players alternate playing time between Keats and Ellen. Each of these characters has their own backstory and special abilities. Players begin their quest by trying to solve the mystery behind several murders in the small village of Doolin. Keats, an Occult Magazine writer, arrives on the scene to answer a message sent to him--while Ellen receives a strange message that her lost mother is waiting for her in Doolin. This leads each character to discover the world of the dead and how to travel to and from.
Instead of utilizing the power of the hardware and giving players incredibly rich CG sequences, the story in folklore plays out in graphic novel style stills with text to read. While I do appreciate the Developers attempting to be artistic, this is something that really takes you out of the story and makes you wonder if this game was on a heavy budget. This could also be the reason why Sony's marketing muscles haven't pushed Folklore for the platform. The most disappointing part of the lack of push for Folklore came in 2007 at a Sony Gamers' Day event. Even with the eyes and ears of the press listening to every word Sony spoke, barely a mention was made of Folklore.
Despite the lack of a push, Folklore really is an enjoyable game. After viewing the introductory sequences, players choose which character they want to play The gameplay is similar and will contain some of the same levels. However, the difference is in the abilities each character gathers and how they will have to use their unique abilities to get past some of the same levels, monsters, and bosses.
Players start off with a limited number of skills. These are increased in strength by following the guidelines in the menus. For example, you may have to kill X number of enemy type A to increase the strength of the given ability. In addition to this, when you weaken an enemy a ghost-like shadow will float over its head. Players can choose to kill the enemy, as needed for the example above, or suck out the spirit of the enemy utilizing the Sixaxis. This is probably the most innovative way to utilize the controller and makes you feel like this is some Ghostbusters spinoff. At first sucking these souls will be rather easy. However, as players go on to harder enemies, they will have to move the controller different ways to accomplish the soul sucking.
As your army of souls grows larger, players can choose to map any four to the four face buttons on the controller. This requires some trial and error to figure out what tactics work on which creatures. But most enemies can be defeated fairly easily with any of the souls. The problem lies in the boss battles. Players are given a page in a book to look at that shows how to defeat a boss. However, it sometimes is still not real clear on how the player actually defeats the enemy. This was an issue I saw early on and spoke Sony about. It appears that they were not able to fix it, or chose not to, in the localization of Folklore.
Despite the lack of effort that appears to have gone into the story-telling sequences, Developer Game Republic utilized the power of the PlayStation 3 to deliver some very stunning visuals. The world of Folklore is just gorgeous and each of the levels takes full advantage of pushing bright and vivid colors all over your HDTV. The downside to the levels and world of Folklore is that it is extremely linear. This discourages exploration and ensures the player goes from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible.
Folklore delivers a fairly lengthy and enjoyable quest that PlayStation 3 owners, who love the genre, will definitely want to check out. Despite the game being extremely linear, Folklore deserves more attention than it was given and is an experience you won't find on any other console. In the end, what more would a PlayStation 3 owner want?