Prepare for Folklore, an action adventure RPG with a distinct Celtic feel. Follow a strong storyline, collect Fairy Folk and do battle as Pokemon meets Stonehenge.
When Ellen receives a letter from her supposedly dead mother, she is drawn to the strange, melancholic village of Doolin. And as odd as her reasons already seem for going there, things are about to get even more extraordinary, for Doolin is not your typical little seaside town. Don your Celtic cloak and expect to be surprised, for Doolin may seem like a stagnant, grey-skied town to begin with, but take a trip to the Henge and youll find something quite different underneath it all. Enter a world exploding with faerys, Folk and enough mysteries to fill a world of their own. Welcome to the Netherworld.
And for the land of the dead, the Netherworld sure is one hell of a lively place. In fact, compared to the sparking Netherworld, Doolin seems ironically rather deathly. The village appears to have more dead residents than living. But just how did these people die? Keats, a reporter, is drawn to Doolin upon receiving a phone call from a lady claiming to be under attack from faerys. Unable to find the source of the call, Keats curiosity leads him to get lost in a seventeen year old murder mystery along with Ellen. How are these two linked to the events of Doolins past? In order to find the answers they must seek help from both the current villagers of Doolin, and the dead.
Folklore is an action-adventure RPG with a distinct Celtic feel to it. This is very apparent in the use of Irish accent, faerys, Celtic knot work and that it is, of course, set in Doolin, an actual area in the republic of Ireland. This use of the theme is a clever one, as it gives the game a distinctive style which is very effective indeed. Speaking of style, the game artwork is quite incredible. The beauty of Folklore is definitely one of its strong points; a lot of thought has obviously gone into the design of the characters and the surroundings. However, that is not to say that the graphics are overly flashy. The wonder of Folklore is more to be found in the little intricacies, such as the eerie ring of laughter on a stairway when the character steps upon it, or the flittering of butterflies and the falling of petals. And the use of lighting really does help enhance the mood of the entire game. From the darkness of HellRealm and the dusky air of Doolin, to the brightness and dream-like Faery Realm each and every step of Folklore is fantastical and interesting.
The mood is further enhanced by the wondrous, imaginative soundtrack which accompanies the game play. From the tip-toe of lamented piano and eerie chiming of clocks to fantastical orchestra, the music is incredible in its own right and blends with the artwork, game play, story and voice-acting to form something which is overall very special indeed. You would be hard-pushed to find an RPG that combines all these elements so well.
The game play is also rather interesting. Over the course of the game both Ellen and Keats collect the IDs of creatures, called Folks, from the different regions of the Neverworld. Each Folk has a specific type to it, such as ice, fire, etc, typical of many RPGs. However, the way these Folk are collected is not typical of your standard RPG. When defeated, a Folks ID will hover above their fallen form and, after ensnaring them using the R1 button, you pull it back towards you with the controller. The use of the wireless PS3 Sixaxis system adds an exciting extra element. Once obtained, these Folks are stored and you can use up to four different creatures at a time. You pin a different Folk to each of the four main PS3 buttons, allowing for almost limitless combinations which ensures youll find a mixture that will work for your personal fighting style. And once youve found that combination, you can use your Folks to skirmish your way through the Neverworld with the use of magic and brutal force. The battle gameplay is an enthralling twist on the traditional RPG system. And although sometimes repetitive, the variety of enemies and a desire to unravel more of the brilliant storyline will keep you hooked. That is, unless you are very much an action gamer. In that case, this may not be for you as it is very story-based. Although I dont know how you can say no to Keats with his John Lennon-esque spectacles.
As each chapter rolls by, you get a choice between soft-spoken Ellen and the mysterious Keats. However, in order to complete the game you need to finish both characters individual stories, which for some may be trying as you need to play through the same levels with both Ellen and Keats. But since they both have slight differences to their game play it isnt such an issue. And if you do get a little bored of doing the main levels, you can always do a fun little side quest by heading over to the eccentric little pub in the village. In general, Id say Ellens story is probably easier to complete than Keats. However, since Keats has the power of invisibility by transforming into his stronger, crazier form, they pretty much level out.
Overall, Folklore is an incredible title for the PS3, easily one of the best RPGs available on the console to this day. The beautiful graphics and the spellbinding storyline will easily have you staying up all night to untangle the web of mystery that Doolin has to offer. The storyline can get confusing, but by the end of the story it starts to become clearer and filled with brilliant plot twists. The character design is glorious and the cut scenes are graphically gorgeous, as is the voice acting and use of dialogue. The character conversations between game play is very much reminiscent of comic books and gives an interesting contrast between stillness and action. If you love a good story and secretly yearn to be a dashingly dressed journalist exploring the realm of the dead, purple leather and all, then this is the game for you.
Buy on Amazon: Folklore (PS3) (used & new from £11.95)