Action adventure (or Action RPG) games come in many, many different flavors and varieties, and Folklore is yet another example of this. Though it does feel kind of like Okami or a Zelda game, I can’t say I’ve played a game that’s quite like it.
Folklore also has an intriguing story, which begins with the two characters Keats and Ellen. Keats is an editor for a supernatural magazine, and recieves an anonymous phone call asking him to come to the rural village of Doolin. Though he is inclined to consider it a prank call, Keats goes to investigate anyway, and runs into Ellen, who was also drawn to the village by a letter from her mother, who she thought was dead. The two notice a cloaked figure on a nearby clifftop, which Ellen thinks might be her mother. The figure falls over (and off the cliff), however, revealing that it was either a doll of some sort of a corpse. However, it is not found on the beach below the cliff, having mysteriously disappeared. Ellen, distraught with worry, faints. Keats suggests calling it a day, and the two take up lodging in the village. Ellen wakes up to strange voices, which invite her to the local pub. She arrives there, and is enticed by possible information regarding her mother. Following one of the strange characters she meets in the pub to a nearby henge, she is endowed with mysterious powers and allowed to visit the Netherworld. The same happens to Keats, and thus the two set out to unravel a supernatural mystery that is nearly two decades old. “What happened to Ellen’s mother 17 years ago?”, “What’s with this village?” “Who called Keats?”, and “What is the Netherworld?” are all questions that you’ll likely have in mind as you play through the game.
The story is told through a combination of CG cutscenes and comic book-style scenes. It’s also split into two pieces. One part of the story is told through Ellen’s perspective, and the other is told through Keats’. The two are separately playable, and their campaigns, though they frequently cross and meet, run independent of each other. That is, you could play through Ellen’s campaign and not bother with Keats, or vice versa. Though you’ll only get half the plot if you do that.
The gameplay in Folklore is fun, but to get the entire story by alternating between Ellen and Keats’ campaigns, you will have to essentially do each level twice. Though there are occasionally some minor differences, the two play almost exactly the same, and go to mostly the same places. So, you’ll play through Ellen’s version of chapter 2, for example, then, if you so choose, you can then switch over and play Keats’ version of it. The fact that you’re getting the whole story is the only driving force to doing this. Ellen and Keats fight the same bosses, and visit the same levels, so there’s a huge issue of repetitiveness brought up by giving each character their own campaign.
Folklore’s battle system is kind of like..Pokemon and Okami meshed together. Though it is true Keats takes a slightly more physical approach to his attacks, neither of them really battle by themselves. They fight and assimilate Folks. By defeating a Folk, you can get it to reveal its soul, which you can grab and snatch with a quick flick of the Sixaxis controller (which works great, by the way). Now you can summon that Folk to your aid to fight for you (Or in Keat’s case, just lend a hand). For example, say you encounter a Folk wielding a machine gun. You want that Folk, first you have to defeat it. Then you can snatch its soul and summon it. Folks have a variety of abilities and elements. For example, theres the simple hack and slash types, and there’s the long/mid range types, and there’s even some that simply charge into enemies, or fly above, dropping sticky goo. There’re also defensive Folks that can be used to block attacks. Even boss Folks can be absorbed, though the Folklords (Folks so powerful they rule over their own realm) can’t be (or maybe they can; I can’t remember). Some Folks (especially bosses) are immune or highly resilient to certain types of attacks, encouraging you to constantly be on the look out for unique new Folks to capture and try. Aiding you in the discovery of particularly difficult foes’ weaknesses are picture book pages, which provide humorous drawings that convey the best methods of downing some of the tougher enemies.
I didn’t play much of Folklore (I will return to it though), but the soundtrack, while nice, was somewhat forgettable. Though many of the worlds are colorful and interesting, the game overall has a very mellow tone to it, not unlike Persona 3, another game dealing in the supernatural. The game performed well for the most part, but there is an annoying load time that occurs every time you exit the Folk select menu, and the game occasionally drops slightly (but noticeably) in frame rate. The CG scenes also froze often, but I wonder if that might have been the disc.
Overall, I like Folklore. Its an interesting and unique game. I’d give it an 8.5/10