previews\ Aug 30, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Folklore - PS3 - Preview 2

For one man, a man who walks in the shadow of hypocrisy, everything he knows, or thought he knew, will be challenged.

And for a young woman, seeking what was lost so long ago, it is a journey of hope, and so belief comes easily – as does disappointment.

Folklore is among the more unique offerings for the PlayStation 3 console system. Developed by Game Republic and published by SCEA, the game is part action adventure, part mystery and part progressive exploration. It is also a glorious vision that will enchant and challenge.

The story itself centers on two characters, a man named Keats and a young woman named Ellen. Keats is a journalist for an occult magazine, but he is far from a believer in that about which he writes. He believes that everything can be explained, and that science will eventually debunk the myths of the occult. When he gets a call, frantic and urgent, summoning him to a coastal town of Doolin, from a woman claiming to being pursued by fairies, he reluctantly goes against his better judgment.

For Ellen, the journey to Doolin is one of hope. She was an orphan and the years have passed without knowing what happened to her mother. Then she receives a letter from her mother, saying that she is very much alive and asking Ellen to journey to Doolin to meet her. Ellen charters a boat, but the night is dark and the helmsman on the small vessel will not approach the coast of the town, forcing Ellen to jump overboard and swim to shore.

Doolin itself is a small village sitting on the top of the cliffs. Ellen and Keats meet there, just in time to see the body of a woman fall from the cliffs. Ellen believes it may have been her mother. Keats thinks it may have been the woman who called him. Together they delve into the mystery and embark on a journey that will take them between the worlds of ‘reality’ and seven Netherworlds.

A preview of the game was sent out and while much of what the game reveals cannot be shared, some of the content can. For example, both Keats and Ellen have transcended states that are tied to their journeys to the Netherworlds. For Keats, the combat he engages in is a touch more direct, while Ellen must use strategy. Keats seems to be a step behind Ellen in the opening levels, but during a press conference (back in July during E3) it was stated that players will have to take on the roles of both characters to complete the game. There are more than 100 unique and original characters and monsters, and the bosses are known as folklore. To defeat the folklore, you will have to adventure through the zones and collect clues as to which powers are most effective against them.

For Ellen, she will use folks – which are creatures whose ids she has collected – and each has unique abilities. Keats meets an invisible servant named Belgae, who puts up with the doubts and will act as a guide. Keats’ attacks may seem a bit more direct, but he actually uses folks as well. Folks are put into one of the four hot buttons and each has a mana cost and cooldown time. When you are fighting, you may knock the id out of the creature you are battling. When a silhouette of the creature is released, and is a pinkish-red, you hold down the R1 button and shake the controller vertically to capture the id. This has restorative properties.

The idea is to traverse the realms, uncover clues and battle both folks and folklore. There are NPCs scattered about that will give you clues and help you understand the game a bit better, from how to use portals to attacks of opportunity.

The game’s story is told through animated panels with text dialogue that players will have to advance. There are also cutscenes that draw directly from the game’s assets, which is a very good thing.

During the course of your adventures, you will open up portals that will enable you to recover hit points, save the game or journey back to Doolin. In Doolin you can get missions from the townsfolk, which may prove valuable in leveling up your character for the challenges that lie ahead in the netherworld areas.

While somewhat linear in terms of the environment (which includes invisible walls), the game does allow you to take on missions and sub-missions. Saving progress is always wise.

There will also be an online mode that will enable players to create Folklore dungeons and share them online.

The controls have a small learning curve, and this really is a bit of a button masher. You use the analog thumbsticks to evade attacks and the hot buttons to launch your own attacks.

The sound of this game is delightful and ethereal, from the music to the ambient environmental sounds. The look is lush and beautiful.

Folklore tracks a different kind of gaming path and one that will ask players to savor the adventure. There is no urgency here, but instead the game has challenges and rewards both with graphical delight and a sense of accomplishment and discovery.


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