Folklore – PS3 review

Every PS3 owner out there realises that they’re still a little starved of real quality titles. Yes you have your Ghost Recon 2s, the glorious Colin McRae DiRTs, and the incredibly addictive Skate, but they are all titles that those dirty little Xbox 360 owners can enjoy too. The buggers.

With Heavenly Sword wowing gamers however, it seems that the PS3 is finally starting to gain a few unique titles that might help shift a few consoles. The latest big hitter being the action/adventure, Folklore.

Starring two separate characters in the village of Doolin, namely Ellen and Keats, the earlier receives a letter claiming to be from the pen of her long lost mother, and the latter, a reporter for a magazine focussing on the occult, receives his own letter hinting towards some dodgy goings on in their fair village.

Sounds nicely fresh, and a change from the standard gaming norm of evil orcs and goblins trying to take over. If I have to play through one lengthy Lords of the Rings-lite RPG, or find myself starring as some "troubled teenager with a dark secret" I’m going to scream.

The two characters aren’t your standard adventuring folk. Instead of them teaming up to beat the bad guys and solve the puzzles, you play as both completely separately. Each characters story is split into chapters, and you have the chance to flick between the pair of them at the end of each section. The best way seems to be playing through an interval of each in order. It’s never nice to play through a whole section as one, and go through a similar kind of experience all over again, especially as it dilutes the cracking story.

The initial sequences of the game which take part in the starting village soon depart, and the game takes a spiritual turn. You soon visit the neverworld, and this is where the game really starts to pick up. The early sections mainly consist of lengthy chats to set up the story.

With your characters unable to use weapons, you’re forced to suck up the souls of dead neverworld dwellers in order to launch them into bloody battle when the time comes. Not quite as cheery and bright as Pokemon, but the same kind of "gotta catch ‘em all" design.

The introduction of the neverworld also gives the aesthetics a huge leap upwards in terms of sheer quality. Your surroundings are gorgeously designed, and the creatures you’ll stumble across are so well conceived that you’ll eagerly anticipate the next encounter purely to see what mystical design the developers have come up with next.

But sadly, Folklore doesn’t quite have things all its own way. The slow start before things really pick up in the neverworld will surely turn off a large number of gamers. The grind of simply wandering around, talking to every character you can see starts to become a bore in double quick time. Despite the intriguing story.

The dual characters also act to the game's detriment. Defeating some of the later bosses are difficult enough, but it's all made doubly frustrating by the fact you’ll need to bash them over the head once by both characters separately. Yes, the characters do play slightly differently, and each possess differing abilities to make use of, but the differences simply aren’t spectacular enough to make this odd game design decision anything other than a minus point for Folklore.

Even Folklore’s biggest plus point – the sheer brilliance of the well-written storyline – is let down by being far too linear. Though being led by the hand does indeed mean that you don’t find yourself bogged down in repetitive grinding side missions, and you’ll constantly have the main storyline firmly in your head, it makes the gaming aspect feel almost missing entirely. At times it simply feels like you’re pressing buttons at appropriate times to move along the story as if you were simply turning the pages of a book.

Verdict

Folklore doesn’t have the required oomph to sell the PS3 to the masses.

Its storyline might be interesting enough, but that’s never enough to hide the many gameplay flaws in their entirety.

One to pick up at budget price.