Over the past years, when Sony announces a new action/adventure game, we're all eyes and ears. With the exception of a select few, Sony's managed to quickly emerge as the premier developer of a genre that Nintendo once held a grasp over. It only takes one quick glance at games like God of War, Ape Escape, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper to realize what we've already been treated to.
Likewise, it only takes one glance into the company's upcoming selection with Heavenly Sword, Ratchet & Clank Future, God of War III, Lair, LittleBigPlanet, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and Folklore to realize just the kind of caliber is in store for us. And in the words of Rob from "Swingers" (Ron Livingston's character); "the future is sweet". Indeed it is. We've been given a taste of what to expect from the game formerly known as Unknown Realms: Monster Kingdom (renamed to Folklore) and we're impressed.
First and foremost, Folklore's visual style is unlike any other game you've ever seen. The world is mixed with the most vibrant colors you can imagine coupled with a very broodish color palette. The results are awe-inspiring, and truly define what the high-definition era is all about. Folklore is a virtual book unraveling on your screen. And just like a book, the game's visuals are so wild that it's almost as if you're imagination is bringing a novel to fruition right in front of you.
Yes, it may sound a little overly poetic, but that's precisely how you can describe Folklore's aesthetic style. To put it into perspective, imagine Pan's Labyrinth with a spice of Tim Burton – though that still doesn't capture the game's beauty. The game utilizes what seems to be a good engine, with the demo running at 30 frames at a resolution of 720p. Texture detail is really sharp, and character detail, as well as art, really makes this game stand out among anything else out there.
With stunning visuals, Folklore's gameplay is right there to match. There are two separate storylines, one for each character. You can take part of controlling the female lead Ellen, or you can play as the male lead Keats. Because the demo is Japanese, the opening storyline isn't very clear yet, but I can tell you that this game play's superbly well. Your combat revolves around controlling the souls of creatures that you've absorbed. Your face buttons (X, O, Square, Triangle) represent which monster's powers you can use in an action (be it attack or defense). There is a wide variety of the kind of monsters you will come across and absorb.
There'll be a monster that'll allow you to perform quick melee attacks, a gigantic boss-like monster that'll pulverize everything in its path, a monster that'll give you the ability of shielding yourself, and so on. There's a different type of beast for whatever the occasion or objective may require. When you're close to defeating an enemy/monster, you can choose to finish him off for good or absorb its soul. Absorbing gives you EXP, which in turn will grant you further powers. And how does absorbing work? A quick jolt downwards of the Sixaxis will take care of most enemies, meanwhile a timed jolt will be required to take down the larger boss-like monsters. Without a doubt, this is the first terrific implementation of the controller's motion sensing capabilities. Bravo.
Folklore will soon be arriving in Japan (as Folk's Soul) on June 21st, and there's no doubt about it that the Japanese are in for a treat. Based on the time I've spent with the demo, I can wholeheartedly say that I'm eagerly anticipating the final release of the game. Make sure you have Folklore pinned up on your to-buy lists, this kind of game doesn't come around very often.