Folklore Hands-On

We get our karma in order and absorb some "folks" in our first look at this visually impressive action game.


At Sony's spring press event, we got our first look at Folklore, a third-person action adventure game that features a pair of magical heroes looking to solve a series of mysterious murders, all while battling monsters known as "folks" with magic spells that are brought to life thanks to some visually impressive effects. Though the game is still in its early stages, its compelling visuals and interesting magic system make it one to keep an eye on in the future.

Folklore's main characters are Ellen and Keats. Ellen seems to be the focus of the game's story--when her mother is murdered, she travels to the netherworld to find those responsible. Along the way, she runs into Keats, a dashing type who--like Ellen--possesses magical abilities he can use against foes that get in the way.

Magic in Folklore seems to revolve around the various folks you fight in the game. Once you have defeated an enemy, you'll be given the option to absorb his folk ID, which will essentially let you gain whatever power that folk possessed. These powers, in effect, become spells you can cast against future enemies by briefly summoning the folks and using their power against your foe. It's a nice visual effect--when you cast a spell, the image of the absorbed folk appears briefly in front of you before letting loose with his spell. One shooter folk spell we used, for example, summoned a small monster with a rifle, which we could use to pick off enemies from afar; another folk attack we used summoned what looked like a huge cannon, and it proved most effective against multiple enemies at close range.

The game will include 105 folks to capture and summon, but you can have up to four folk powers engaged at any time, and you can assign individual spells to each of the four face buttons on the PlayStation 3 controller. To absorb a new folk, you first must defeat it. After the foe has gone down, a small red ghost will appear over his body; to absorb it you first press the R1 button to grab it with a magical "noose" then pull back with the Sixaxis controller to yank the ID into your character's body. In some cases, a folk's ID will need to be beaten into submission before it can be absorbed; to do so, you grab hold of it with the R1 button and then beat it against the ground by twisting the Sixaxis left and right until the folk changes colors.

In addition to changing your face button assignments, you can upgrade folk IDs as you progress through the game, which gives you increasingly powerful spells at your disposal. A basic upgrade, for example, would let you chain the same attack twice or more in a row. What you need to upgrade your powers will depend on the folk you're looking to improve as well as its current level. In some cases, all it will take is to collect a certain number of that type of folk; at higher levels, you might also need to have various items collected in the gameworld on hand.

The two levels on display in the demo included the lush green forests of the Faery Realm and the hellish urban realm of Warcadia. The game will include seven realms of the Netherworld to explore in total, and you'll be able to choose either Ellen or Keats before each level begins. Which character you choose at the beginning of a level will affect how the story plays out as you progress, and while there is some overlap when it comes to the folk powers that each player can absorb, there will be some folk powers that are unique to one character or the other.

So far, the most impressive aspect of Folklore is the visual effects tied to the folk levels themselves. The brief summon animations look great, and the magical "rope" you use to snare folks is especially cool. The camera takes a bit of getting used to, however, and it's sometimes tough to aim precise shots with ranged attacks, as there is no icon onscreen to show you precisely where you are shooting. Still, this looks like an interesting take on the fantasy action genre and one we look forward to seeing more of in the coming months. Stay tuned for more on the game soon.

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