Folklore Reader Review
What to expect?
What should you expect from a game that receives almost universal critical panning from game reviewers except for a few glowing reviews?
Are you allowed to love a game that hasn't been hyped and pushed by the marketing departments of Sony and that's been mostly ignored by the gaming public?
Should you go with your instinct from having seen the artwork and screenshots of the game? Should you go with your impression from the demo that you played in Japanese?
Should you go with your instinct instead of listening to the haters?
Yes, by golly yes
Folklore may be the best misunderstood game of the year and it is that because of many reasons.
Firstly the art design of the game is beautiful throughout, in both character design and environment. The game covers a diverse scope of locations ranging from a beautiful and colourful faery tale land, a battlefield, an underwater city, the village of Doolin/Lemrick and more.
Secondly, the music and the sound design, the music is beautiful and unique to the game. There's a good reason for that and that comes from the excellent composer Kenji Kawai who created the score to films such as Ring, Avalon, Ghost in the Shell 1 and 2 and others. He's managed to capture the mood of the dark story and also the theme for each realm.
But most importantly the storytelling of the game is both unique in the way it tells the story but also the story it tells is interesting the way some more interesting novellas can be.
But as a game?
As a game it succeeds for a number of reasons and it's primarily because it has a solid base that works well throughout the game.
But this may also be where reviewers were taken aback, they may have judged it against action games such as Devil May Cry or platforming action games such as Ratchet & Clank. If a guy comes into this game expecting something with a deep basic game play instead of the 'breadth' focused game play of Folklore they will be disappointed.
Folklore really comes from a school of action RPG design and if you judge it and play it as such you'll love it for several reasons. Mainly because they manage to give you more actions than RPGs normally do and they also manage to give the combat more of a tactical approach because it is realtime and because of the breadth of options.
They also manage to successfully integration motion controls in a way that not only suits the theme of the game but actually 'feels' good and works well as a challenging element.
Personally I loved it, I thought it better and more diverse than many games and I thought the monster design was astoundingly different throughout. This is also a glowing part of the game, as the game is built around a stone paper scissors style of play you'll need to know which power to use against which monster. You need to know their weakness and the game utilizes a hint system via paintings in a book showing hand painted portrayals of which monster type beats which other monster.
People complaining about the game play are disappointed that next gen games don't have next gen game play. But this is exactly what the games coming will be like, the games coming will all use the same mechanics they have ever used and they will put them to use in different settings. Games are made this way because the mechanics work. Fight the monsters to gain their power, use their power on other monsters to gain their power.
Bedtime for Mr Bubbles
This year there's been a number of games that's proven that storytelling in games has matured a bit and it's come from various surprising directions like Call of Duty 4 and Portal but also the bigger games that were pushed for story like Bioshock and Mass Effect.
Folklore compares favourably and is doing better than these games in telling a story as only a game can do and I think this is an excellent game to study for learning how you can tell a story from several perspectives and also for how to allow the player to choose how he experiences the story.
Most people will probably choose the big games such as Bioshock, Mass Effect or Eternal Sonata for best story in a game this year and some people will probably choose the minimalistic Portal as theirs.
But this is mine and it is that because it manages to keep the story interesting and dynamic through all the 24 or so hours that you'll be playing the game and they also manage to inject several subplots in the quests of the game and they work well to put some humour into the otherwise quite serious story.
They also keep a surprise until the very end which is more poignant than the big twist of Bioshock.
A surprisingly good game with a great storyline and some amazing art and a soundtrack that fits the mood perfectly. Together with some excellent quests and intelligent quest design this makes for a game well worth buying.
9 / 10