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Folklore[b] is a 2007 action role-playing video game developed by Game Republic and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. The game is set in Ireland and the Celtic Otherworld of Irish mythology, centering on a young woman named Ellen, and a journalist named Keats, both playable characters who together unravel the mystery that the quaint village of Doolin hides, the mystery that can only be solved by seeking the memories of the dead in the dangerous, Folk-ridden Netherworld.
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
Folklore is an action role-playing game, where players control characters in a third-person view to both explore their surroundings and engage in combat. From the start, players have a choice to play the game as either of the two lead protagonists, the young woman Ellen or the journalist Keats, both having different yet intertwining plots and play styles. The game is split into two worlds, the real world set in the small sea-side Irish village of Doolin and the more fantastical Netherworld inhabited by folk creatures and spirits.
In Doolin, players lead their chosen character throughout the village and surrounding area. When in this state, characters are unable to engage in combat or utilize their abilities and instead will be limited to exploring the village's locations and interacting with its inhabitants, containing multiple search and slight puzzle-esque quests that progress the main story and eventually lead them to and from the Netherworld, acting as a hub between worlds and subsequent quests.
When characters pass into the Netherworld, the gameplay shifts entirely towards the action-adventure side of its genre. Basic attack techniques are performed by utilizing "folk", various creatures and spirits that upon defeat can be absorbed for the player's use. When a folk is nearly defeated, its spirit will glow red, allowing players to absorb it by locking onto it and performing shaking and yanking motions with the Sixaxis motion control (rather than a conventional button interface) to reel in its energy for use. While the player can choose from nearly all folk encountered and absorbed, only four at a time can be mapped to the controller's main four interface/action buttons and used in quick succession for combat with different kinds of folk being better suited for certain situations and techniques such as close-combat, projectile attacks or magic. The two playable characters themselves also differ between play styles. While Ellen uses a variety of folk as basic strategy and favors a defensive stance with the ability to cloak herself with folk powers, Keats uses more straight up brute force attacks with usually all-round stronger folk along with the ability to release built-up energy to become invincible and perform stronger attacks for a period of time.
In the present day, two people are drawn to the Irish seaside village of Doolin. Ellen, a university student with no memory of her childhood, is summoned to the village by a letter written by dead her mother Ingrid. Keats, editor of the struggling occult magazine Unknown Realms, receives a phone call from a woman saying she is being attacked by "Faerys". Both arrive at the village, with Ellen quickly making friends with the local girl Suzette. On the night of Samhain, both Ellen and Keats are drawn through portals into the Netherworld, the realm of the dead where they gain powers over monsters dubbed the Folk. They are respectively guided through and tutored in the Otherworld by Scarcrow and Belgae, liminal beings known as Half-lives. Ellen encounters and allies with the Faery King, who seeks to restore the Netherworld's Core and defeat a faction of rebel Faerys. Keats in turn becomes allies with the rebel leader Livane, who is served by Belgae. The Faery King reveals his true intention of merging the Netherworld with the human world due to growing despair at humanity through their constant conflict. Livane−the last descendant of a human clan who sealed off the Netherworld from humanity−seeks to preserve the current separation. At the same time, murders begin happening in Doolin, with the victims being people who knew something about Ellen's past, with Ellen helping the survivors by interacting with their spirits in the Netherworld.
During her adventure, Ellen learns that as a child she lived in Doolin under the name "Cecilia", with her family sharing the same lineage as Livane. While living in Doolin Ellen became friends with the terminally ill Herve. She was saved from an accident through a blood transfusion with Herve, who died as a consequence, and became hated by the town who considered her Herve's killer while possessed by a Faery. Ingrid killed Herve's father when he attacked Ellen, then hid Ellen in the Otherworld and eventually fled from Doolin with her. The initial letter was written Herve's unhinged mother with the intention of killing Ellen, but she was instead killed by Ingrid's spirit. Suzette is eventually revealed as the current culprit, having sought to stop Ellen learning the truth about her past after seeing Ingrid's spirit.
Reaching the Netherworld Core, which has been corrupted by human malice, the Faery King is killed. After recovering all her memories, Ellen decides to keep the worlds separate, then is forced to fight Scarecrow after he absorbs the malice and declares his intent of spreading death into the living world. Ellen defeats him aided by Keats and Livane, and Scarecrow fades away. In the Netherworld Core, Ellen remembers that Livane told her of the place's power, and she used her blood to make a wish for people to cherish life, birthing Scarecrow. Ellen then finds the dying Livane, who tasks her with helping anguished humans through the Netherworld. Keats learns he is also a Half-life created by Herve's dying wish and mentally summoned to Doolin by Herve's wish to protect Ellen; the magazine Unknown Realms had closed down shortly before Eliot's death, and his appearance is based on Ellen's childhood drawing of Herve's imagined adulthood. The game ends with Suzette vanishing, Ellen leaving Doolin with its inhabitants better off, and Keats visited by a grateful Ellen at his office in the Otherworld.
Folklore was announced at E3 2006 which was said to be "The next generation of dark fantasy." It was to be developed by Game Republic, under Yoshiki Okamoto, a video game designer who worked on popular games, including Resident Evil. The game was originally titled Monster Kingdom: Unknown Realms, and was intended as a companion piece to Gaia's Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner. However, disappointing sales of Jewel Summoner led to the game being retitled Folklore. Gaia however would assist the development of Folklore, contributing monster designs. Numerous creatures appearing in Folklore would later appear in Gaia's PlayStation Portable game Coded Soul: Uketsugareshi Idea the following year, which also featured connectivity with Folklore.
A playable demo was first released on the Japanese PlayStation Network (PSN) on May 30, 2007. The demo features the two playable characters Keats and Ellen, with the ability to choose from either of them. The demo includes a series of short comic-style cutscenes, exploration of a sea-side village and a trek through a series of playable areas where a player is introduced to the gameplay basics (i.e. fighting, how to acquire new Ids, etc.). This demo was all in Japanese aside from the lines in English that both protagonists would occasionally exclaim during combat.
An English-speech demonstration was released on the European PSN on August 22, 2007; as a limited time offering, it was removed from the PlayStation Store on August 31. This demo was released to the North American PSN on August 23, 2007. An English/Traditional Chinese speech version demo was released on the Asian PSN on September 4, 2007. The original Japanese demo was released in English on European and US PlayStation Network Stores.
|FolksSoul: The Lost Folklore|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||June 27, 2007(Japan)|
|Genre||Video game soundtrack|
|Length||172:40 (three CDs)|
The official Folklore soundtrack was released on 3 discs on June 27, 2007, by TEAM Entertainment. The music was composed by Kenji Kawai, Shinji Hosoe, Ayako Saso and Hiroto Saitoh. The song "Nephilim" by Japanese band Abingdon Boys School plays during the end credits.
|FolksSoul Original Soundtrack track listing|
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||7/10|
|PlayStation: The Official Magazine||8/10|
Upon release, Folklore received "favorable" reviews according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. In Japan, Famitsu gave it a score of three eights and a nine, for a total of 33 out of 40.
Most of the praise the game received was direct at the art design and a rich fairy tale/mythological setting and style. Ryan Clements of IGN was particularly impressed with the game's style over the actual technical graphics engine, noting that "Folklore's sheer visual beauty comes more from the stellar art direction and execution of the artistic design than the amount of processing power it requires,” helped further by the soundtrack described as "poignant and intrinsically atmospheric." This view was further echoed by Gaming Target, summing up with "technically the game looks great, with the realistic style of Doolin, mixed in with the colorful and absurdly Japanese stylings of the Netherworld levels," later including Folklore in their "52 Games We'll Still Be Playing From 2007."
The battle system where players would catch and utilize various "folk" was considered another positive aspect. GameSpy found that "what makes the enormous library of monsters and moves work so well is that each is most useful in a particular situation" and while GameTrailers also praised the feature finding that "switching folk in and out of your arsenal is easy thanks to well-organized menus," it also criticized brief loading times between shifting in and out of the menus that "puts a damper on the game’s flow." Eurogamer on the other hand felt that the basic level design was "pretty standard dungeon crawling," if not "bland" at times. The use of the SIXAXIS motion control to reel in energy from downed folk was considered a better use of the feature compared to past games, with 1UP.com calling it "the most subtle and sensible use of the PS3's motion control yet."
While the narrative was considered a strong point, with GameZone calling it "compelling," the method of telling much of the story in graphic-novel style still cutscenes however received a less than positive response. Kevin VanOrd of GameSpot felt that while "an interesting design choice" is, in the end "weirdly flavorless." Another issue found in this method was the lack of voice-work outside of the full CGI cutscenes with GamesRadar (in-house) finding it to hinder the delivery of the overall story.
Cancelled sequel Edit
The now-defunct Game Republic was planning a PlayStation Portable or download only Move compatible Folklore sequel and had pitched the idea to Sony. The idea was well received by Sony but due to poor sales of the original Folklore were not keen to green light the project which failed to pass the internal review board at Sony by a few points.
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-  Archived August 31, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
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- [dead link]
- "Game Republic were planning Folklore 2 with Move support". TheGamingLiberty.com. July 7, 2011. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012.
- Romero, Josh (January 5, 2009). "Folklore 2 and Brave Story 2 will not be made, says Game Republic founder". Video Games Blogger. Archived from the original on June 21, 2015. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
- Official website (in Japanese)