PlayStation Universe

Folklore Hands On

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on 18 May 2007

The Folklore demo (or Folks Soul as it's known in Japan) was released on the Japanese PlayStation Store today, and we decided to give it a try. It truly shows that you can never judge a game by its cover, as Game Republic may have a massive hit on their hands.

First off, there are several quite attention-grabbing options in the front menu such as Dungeon Trial, an unknown Japanese word, Web Browser, Costumes, and Install (although they are disabled for the demo version). So we’ll obviously be able to install the game to our HDDs, making the title’s already short load times (two to three seconds) even shorter. Via the web browser we may be able to access Folklore’s official website or something of the sort. Costumes should be relatively self-explanatory, but it’s good to know that we won’t have to be staring at the same outfit for hours on end. As for the others, we’ll have to wait and find out.

When we started a new game, we were prompted to choose between the two characters - Keats and Ellen. After playing through the demo with both, we were pleased that not only does each character have an overlapping yet unique story with differentiated cutscenes, but the enemies you encounter along your path will be different which will therefore lead to differing abilities.

The story is told through almost comic-like panels with a lot of emphasis on text and zero voice acting. However, we have with our own eyes seen the same moments in trailers with English voicing. Perhaps Game Republic didn’t want to make the already massive gigabyte demo even larger, or possibly they won’t have these assets ready in time for the Japanese release. As for what the story is about, we have no idea as nearly the entire demo was in Kanji.

The presentation is exceptional. The graphics may not be on par with titles like Heavenly Sword and Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, but Folklore is both fantastically styled and impressive nonetheless. The only issue we had were a few minor framerate drops during big battles, but hopefully these will be ironed out before launch. In conjunction with the emotion-evoking soundtrack, the game works wonders on the senses.

Gameplay is where Folklore truly excels. Think Final Fantasy genetically spliced with Pokémon and you’ve got a vague idea of how Folklore works. After roaming around for a bit finding and viewing key story points we didn’t understand, the amusement began. In Folklore, one has to capture the ID, or “soul” of a creature, in order to kill it. As a fantastic bonus, once you’ve captured a single soul of a certain enemy type, their ability is now at your disposal. Beginning with two simple souls, we blocked and slashed our way through hordes of enemies. When you’ve damaged an enemy enough, their soul floats slightly above their body, becoming a reddish hue. From there, you can hold down R1 to snatch their soul. Once properly attached, the final step lies in your hands - literally. You have to flick up your wrists to pull the soul from the body’s grip. This one of the finest implementations of the Sixaxis control yet, as it feels ever so satisfying to collect these souls, especially when you’re able to capture multiple souls at a single time (which in turn nets you an experience bonus). Each soul’s ability is able to be mapped to the face buttons, so essentially four can be equipped at once.

Japan will receive this unique and promising title in a mere three weeks, but the West has quite the wait ahead of them. Our first impression of Folklore is exceptional, and we can’t wait until we get more time with it.