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Developer:
Game Republic
Publisher: SCEA
Platform: PS3
Release Date: October 9, 2007

by Josh Ferguson




Last weíd seen of Game Republic was Genji: Days of the Blade in 2006 at the launch of the PlayStation 3. The game was a decent action title with some nice-looking environments and graphics. However, their latest title, Folklore, an action RPG, could possibly be one of the best exclusives found on the PS3 so far.


The storyline in Folklore follows two different characters: Ellen, a young girl who suddenly receives a letter claiming that her mother, who she had thought to be dead long ago, is actually alive and living in the town of Doolin; and Keats, a magazine writer who receives a mysterious phone call pleading for his help and to come to Doolin immediately. From there on, Ellen and Keats will travel through different realms, encountering a number of different creatures in the process.


Throughout the game, the storylines of the two characters will be intertwined. In order to fully comprehend the events happening in the story, the player will have to complete the chapter for both characters. For example, one event might occur in a chapter of Ellenís story, but in order to know why it happened you may have to complete the corresponding chapter of Keats. It is possible to go on ahead and complete the majority of say, Ellenís chapters without completing Keats, but as I said, it will be difficult to understand exactly why and what is going on in the storyline. Even though different things will occur in each character's story, the one thing that normally will stay the same is the Folklore (boss) at the end of each realm. On the other hand, the Folk (the lesser enemies) wonít always be the same for the two characters. This is also where one of the game's biggest problems arises, because many gamers might be turned away and find that the game feels somewhat repetitive. After all, you are replaying the exact same level but with a different character. Of course, items will be located in different areas, plus with some different Folks, which means that your way of defeating the Folklore at the end will differ with each character.


In order to make it through the game, players are going to have to obtain Folk. Rather than the characters actually fighting enemies, they will use their powers over the Folk to battle for them. In order to use a Folk though, you must first obtain that certain Folkís ID. The process is actually quite simple: you generally have to damage a Folk until its ID, which is a large pink aura, starts to pop out of the creature, then press the R1 button to attach to the ID, and then pull the controller back to absorb its power. Not every creature's ID can be absorbed that simply though, some require you to locate that Folk's weakness before their ID will appear or require a different type of absorption method. For example, some Folk require you to pound the ID out by moving the controller from side to side, while others may require you to tilt the controller back and forth until you have the controller lined up in a certain position. While some games donít necessarily use the motion controls in the PS3 very well, Folklore, on the other hand, does it very well and almost feels natural.


The main reason to absorb Folk is too obtain their ID, but each time you do you will also acquire a certain amount of experience points. Usaully you will only obtain around 1 or 1.5 experience points, so leveling up your character could take some time, and the only real benefit of this is an increase in HP. So increasing your character's level isnít necessarily that important, but you can also strengthen your Folks by releasing their Karma, which can be quite helpful. There are a variety of requirements in order to release a Folk's Karma, including merely absorbing a certain amount of that individual Folk, using a certain item, or defeating a certain type or amount of enemies with that particular Folk. The benefits of releasing their Karma can be an increase in attack power, a decrease in mc consumption (the energy used to summon Folk), increases in consecutive attacks you can perform with a Folk, or increases in the effect area of spells used by certain Folk. With the large amount of Folk in the game, and the fact that many of them have at least three unlockable stat boosts, it could easily take a while to unlock them all.


As Iíve stated a number of times now, Folklore features a large amount of different Folk. While many of the Folk will be used for offensive purposes, there are also those who are strictly used for their defensive capabilities. Many of the offensive Folk rely on physical attacks, but there are also different types of attacks for some Folk, including fire attacks, ice attacks, lightning attacks, and so on. Some Folk in the game are strictly able to attack ground units, while others can attack air or ground units. There are also some Folk who donít necessarily attack, but instead use spells such as a sleeping spell to stop the enemy. Once again Iíll say it, the game features a large number of Folk, each with their own uses and benefits. The trick is to find which ones you like the best and which will devastate your enemy.


Throughout Folklore you will be able to equip four different Folk to your character, and can use these Folk by pressing any one of the four face buttons that correspond to that certain Folk. However, you wonít be restricted to using only these four Folk. Oh, no. At any point throughout the game you can switch in and out any different Folk that you desire, that is as long as you have obtained the Folk's ID. This is a good thing, too, because you will often run into certain obstacles that only a certain type of Folk could destroy, so itís a good thing that you will be able to switch in and out any Folk that you would like. Plus, this makes releasing Karma quite a bit easier.


While there are many highlights to Folklore, easily its brightest features are all of the different realms that you are able to travel. Each of these realms is very different from one another, not only in appearance but the Folk that inhabit them. The Faery realm is bright colored, with many trees and other colors that look downright gorgeous, while another realm, Warcadia, looks war-torn, with smoke and destruction everywhere, but still remains to look outstanding. A lot of detail and work obviously went into making these environments look as great as they do, and Game Republic should definitely be recognized for their beautiful work.


When the player reaches the end of each realm, they will have to do battle with the realm's Folklore, which is the boss of the realm. The Folklore are easily the most difficult enemies in the game, and will definitely take a bit of time to defeat. Plus, if you arenít prepared or donít know how to defeat the Folklore, you may be in for one difficult battle. However, in order to help you out, the game features pages of a Picture Book scattered throughout the different levels. The pages show pictures of different Folk and the Folklore, revealing some of their weakness and what you must do to defeat that enemy. These can be really helpful, and the art style of these pictures looks very nice and fits perfectly with the game.


Aside from the different realms, some of the game will also take place in the town of Doolin. The two characters each have their little base in the village, where they will wander around speaking to townsfolk trying to piece together some of the mystery of the village. Sadly, the conversations with the townsfolk and other individuals are one of the game's weakest points. For the most part, rather than featuring a lot of voice work, the conversations are broken down into short comic book styled conversations, which work, but could have been better and more appealing. Aside from piecing together some of the mystery behind Ellenís past, not a whole lot goes on in the village of Doolin, but you can pick up different quests from the bartender. There are a variety of different quests, including picking up a certain item in one of the realms or leading a certain character to safety. These quests usually award you a few different items, but this is also one way to obtain certain pages of the Picture Books or to obtain hidden Folks. Also, players will eventually be able to download new quests and new Folk from the PlayStation Store. Iím not aware of any being available yet, but hopefully they will be some time in the near future.


If youíre willing to locate all the Folk, release all of their Karma, and so on, the game could easily take you more than 15 hours to complete. Personally, I really enjoyed searching for all of the Folk and unlocking their Karma, which can be a fun experience. Other than that, each character has different obtainable outfits, which can be found throughout the different levels of the game. Plus, the game features an option to create your own dungeon, which sounds a little cooler than it really is. Players can also download other gamers' dungeons and try them out, and compare the scores that they receive from those dungeons. This is a nice addition, but after a few tries, chances are you wonít be doing too much more of it. Still, if youíre willing to put the time into this game, it could definitely give you at least 15 hours of enjoyment.


Graphically, Folklore is a great-looking game. The art style is downright excellent, with a huge cast of interesting Folks and Folklore. Aside from that, the environments are large, detailed, colorful, and look amazing. There were moments when I would just sit back and look around at some of the great-looking environments. The character models for Keats and Ellen are both nice looking too, as well as many of the other characters in the game. While limited, the cinemas in the game look nice, too, but as I said, these are very limited. Even the comic book styled cutscenes look nice, with some good-looking animations and so on, but there still could have been a little more. The only downside with this are the occasional load times, which arenít extremely lengthy, but you will almost always encounter a short pause whenever you open your menu. Also, there are times while fighting a few enemies and obtaining a new ID when the game will just suddenly freeze for a moment. Nothing major, but it is still noticeable.


The sound in the game is another area in which Folklore excels. Though limited, the voice acting is done very well, with my only real complaint being, well, not enough of it. The music in the game is great, and if youíre one of those who like to listen to video game soundtracks then this is one that you would definitely want. Sound effects in the game are quite nice, too, from the breaking of crystals, releasing of Folk's IDs, or just the sound of attacks, everything sounds great.


Overall, Folklore is easily one of the best PlayStation 3 exclusives to be found on the system yet. The game is lengthy and features a fun combat system, a large cast of obtainable creatures, an enjoyable story and two interesting characters, great sound, and beautiful art. This should be enough to please any RPG fan. If you like the RPG genre and own a PS3, then you definitely should not let this game get away. Go out and buy it right now. You wonít be disappointed.


Final Grade: 88%




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