Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: Action/RPG
For a console that is lacking a lot of original content, I was completely surprised to see Sony overlook even a small mention of their upcoming PlayStation 3 Action RPG title from Game Arts. Although this is the same studio that gave us the Genji series, their latest title is is definitely much more fun and playable than the last Genji title ever was. Known previously as Monster Kingdom: Unknown Realm when the title was first shown at the last Tokyo Game Show, the game is now being called Folks Soul in Japan. Even though that title would appear to work in the North American market, Sony has gone with the title of Folklore in this region. But no matter what the game is called, Folklore is a title that impressed me.
Sony was a bit hesitant to give me any detailed explanations of the storyline. I am not sure if that is because the game hasn't been fully translated or if they are not ready to reveal everything yet. However, we do know that Folklore will center around two characters known as Elene and Keats. Each character has their own main set of monster abilities that are acquired during their individual levels. A few of these abilities will be shared between the two characters. However, the vast majority of the one hundred and five different monsters will only be for themselves. As we mentioned above, there isn't a lot we know about the story. However, we do know that it will play out between the two characters in alternating levles. As you progress through these individual story missions, their paths will eventually cross. The two characters will never both be playable in the same level though.
By far my favorite feature of Folklore is the ability to suck out the spirit of a monster and absorb its abilities. Similar to how the Ghostbusters would suck in ghosts if they had a Sixaxis controller, players first defeat an enemy. After this is done, you old down L1 and you will see a red line go towards the enemy's Red floating spirit. Then players flick up the Sixaxis Controller and the spirit of the enemy will be absorbed by your character. Later levels will engage the player with alternate ways to absorb these spirits. For example, a boss fight has a meter that has to be filled by moving the controller left and right--wearing down the enemies spirit. Once the meter is filled, you will have to pull up on it to absorb it.
We were not told if there are other ways to absorb enemies but it is clear that they may include even more difficult ways. This is probably some of the best times I have ever had with the Sixaxis controller. I was very impressed with what Game Arts is doing with the technology and it should lead to more developers making the Sixaxis an integral part of their gameplay experience without ever feeling "forced" on the player.
The early build we saw of the game at Sony's Gamer's Day lacked a few features that should be present when the title ships this fall. For example, Folklore does not have any sort of tutorial and there are not any clear instructions on how to use your abilities, where to go, and how to defeat bosses. Sony plans to address this by giving the player some instruction early on in the game to better assist them in learning how to play.
When I first picked up the controller to play as Keats, I had absolutely no clue what to do. While it would probably of helped if I started from the beginning, I figured that as a "hardcore gamer" I could just pick up and figure this game out. I was wrong. Within ten minutes of playing, I found myself dead and scratching my head. Shortly after this I began again and had a representative from Sony talk to me about the game while I played. I tried out the Elene character and discovered that with a little guidance in the early stages of the game, Folklore was a blast to play.
Each monster ability is mapped to a specific face button: Square, Triangle, Circle, and X. For someone new to the game, having a multitude of abilities can be a very intimidating experience. The nice thing about Folklore is that the player can really utilize any combination of monsters they wish to get through the majority of the game. At times, you will have to use a specific ability to get through a given task.
Each monster can have their stats increased by following the list of requirements found on the ability selection menu. Some abilities are upgraded by simply fighting so many creatures. Others can only be increased by fighting a certain type of monster. This is the main RPG element found within Folklore. So really the game is more of an Action title with some minor RPG elements that a full-blown Action RPG.
Utilizing the power of the PlayStation 3, Folklore features some really nice graphics that have a lot of variety in the environments. The build shown at Gamer's Day only showcased the first levels of both characters. However, we will get to see a water level in the coming months that is supposed to be really amazing to look at. But in the current build, there are great lighting effects, awesome use of colors, and a great style to the game. I can't wait to see more.
Overall, Folklore stood out as the most surprising of all the First Party titles. This game is headed to retail stores in the fall. While nothing is set in stone, we should see the game hit stores around the October timeframe. Stay tuned for more on Folklore. We will definitely revisit this game once we get our hands on a newer build.