Folklore Demo Impressions - 29/08/07

Sony have a lot going for them now with exclusive games, and Folklore fits perfectly into this category. This RPG is looking to be unique, and actually, very good. But if you weren’t quick enough to download this limited edition demo, then here’s my impressions.

To start off, the size of the demo’s a beefy 1000MB+. So it’s a good thing the demo can last you for around 45 minutes. When it finally loads up after shoving all the developers and brands into your face, it gives you two story options: Ellen’s or Keats’. Both are good but I recommend starting with Ellen because hers is easier and, by the looks of it, slots in before Keats’ story in the main game. This one is set in a Netherworld that goes by the name of ‘The Faery Realm’. This is basically Heaven, where good people go after they die. Why she’s in there we don’t know, but she’s greeted by a strange floating scarecrow. The scarecrow tells you that Ellen’s mother is in here and that to find her, she should “help the Faery Realm, because the Faeries will find her for you!”

Apparently, she’s the only one who can help, and to do that she needs to battle the Folklore who lives in the depths of the forest. To beat the Folklore, and any Folks (basically smaller, or easier to defeat then Folklore) she may come across on the way, she has to send Folks to do battle for her. The scarecrow then gives her the first three Folks, Pouke, (short range, non-elemental combo attacks. Press button rapidly for wide range combo attacks. Release karma to raise maximum number of attacks.) Killmoulis, (all-round guard. Only one attack can be blocked each time button is pressed, but consumes little MC) and Boubrie, (long range, wind element attacks, squall created by wings to attack frontal enemies. Release karma to improve MC consumption and attack power.) If you were wondering, MC is ‘mind control’ and, as far as we know, karma is something to do with the energy in the Folk.

The Faery Realm is quite good, graphically. With drained green being the most popular colour, and the odd luminous yellow lantern tree every now and then. It all seems like it needs some life kicked into it. Some more vibrant colours maybe. Anything to liven up the place. It’s really not what everyone pictures when they think of heaven, with no ‘pearly gates’ or big white clouds, and no God. Yet, in fact, the only people in there are long nosed…things, that often give you advice when you’re on the journey. Unless you count the highly detailed Folks as people. A lot of critics have hailed this game to be very artistic and creative, but I disagree. The demo wasn’t very ‘full’. In other words there wasn’t much scenery to tell you about. Hopefully, come the full game’s release, Sony’s Japan studio will have sorted this out and Folklore will be crowned artistic and creative once and for all.

As for the controls, the buttons are quite complex and may take a while to get used to, but they do work extremely well. With the four face buttons activating your Folks and the left analogue stick to move your character. One brand new, never been seen before thing with the controls is the way it uses a combination of holding R1 and the SIXAXIS motion control to capture the creature's ids, which makes them available for use against later Folk. The motion control was probably my high point when playing the demo, it was the first time I’ve actually smiled without any prompt. It’s used in 3 ways: for blue ids, red ids and green ids, each with a different way to capture them. When you successfully hit a Folk, a blue id appears next to it and on the final hit this turns either red, green or blue. With the latter two putting you into a ‘nearly cut-scene’ sequence. For red ids you hold R1 and thrust the controller upwards, simple. For green ids you have to hold R1 and thrust it upwards when it changes from green to red, and for blue ids you have to tilt the controller from side to side, which gradually weakens the id until you capture it. All of which are great fun, and, so far, don’t look to be too repetitive.

If you did do Ellen’s section first then the first Folklore you came up against will have been a squid like monster called ’Cernunnos’. To defeat this you have to make it suck in Bargest creatures that you have just captured to send spikes into the tentacles, immobilizing them. Then hit it with the Bargest. Soon it will transform into a bush like creature, and you can use the Boubrie to defeat it once and for all. So it’s looking like the bosses in Folklore are going to be defeated by sequences. Let's hope you don’t have to do it too much, or it may get repetitive.

Now Keats’ adventure first introduces the blue id sequences and a mode called ‘TP mode’. In TP mode, your attacks take off more health and purple stuff floats out of your body. It sticks you right in there by letting you go into TP mode and just unleash everything you’ve got on a barrage of monsters that are thrown at you, which is hopefully not what Sony’s Japan studio have done to make the game harder. Which is the case with launch title, Resistance: Fall Of Man. The end boss in this section is ‘Dreadnought’ is a four legged machine animal. To defeat this you have to hit each leg until the metal falls off, then ‘kick it in the teeth’ until it’s id is released.

One thing that I’d say needs to be done to make this game worthy of 9.0+ when it comes out, is make the levels wider and less linear. In the demo there was only one path you could follow and at one point you climb up a ramp and it’s impossible to fall off. With this implemented, it’s looking like Folklore could be a ‘must-have’ come release day.

We’re also doing a sort of video preview of Folklore to accompany this article, which will be online at the beginning of next week (3rd September)

Pre-Verdict: As of yet it’s looking like Folklore could be an exciting RPG, that uses the SIXAXIS well and is definitely NOT a gimmick. I can’t stress that more. It has respectable graphics and solid game play, so if you’re into your action adventure games, or you fancy a change; Folklore could be your best bet.

- Tyler Roberts



Game Republic