This is probably not going to be as entertaining as it could be. I had meant to compare the two games, but I ended up just talking about both of them more than making a comparison. Anyway. Folklore is a game that I just played on the PS3, and because I was looking back through my blog posts for stuff I needed to write the last PaPW encouter, I noticed my post about Resonance of Fate. And I started thinking of how similar they seem.
Maybe it’s because I played it on PS3 first, but I’ve always thought of RoF as a PS3 game. But after a little more thinking, I realised that it’s the graphics. Everyone in RoF looks like a Dollfie. I like Dollfies. I own one. But they don’t exactly emote well.
It really contributes to the problem that a lot of games have. As long as everything looks pretty, no one will complain. But guess what. We do.
RoF had a lot more substance than I really got to explore in my second playthrough, which was the one I blogged about. It’s the kind of game that sounds really good on paper, and it doesn’t actually help its case that it also looks good. It’s when you start peeling back all of the layers of flash and sparkle that one begins to realise that its clichéd and ridiculous.
It has an immense world that I would love to see in a sci-fi novel or film. And as far as I played, there was a bigger picture, internal politics and shadowy pasts that everyone has apparently agreed not to talk about. See, it sounds good. But when it’s actually played out in the game, it’s weak and disappointing.
Everything cool exists and operates because it is cool. I’m fine with the main characters all being gorgeous for no reason. But why are they doing these mercenary odd jobs? How did any of them get into the business? Is it common, or something really special? Does the economy support such a business on the large scale it seems to be, and if so, then why does the operation appear to be so small and centralised to the main characters?
They’re suggested to be part of a business, and that anyone can take jobs posted on the board. I don’t want actual competition to get missions, but I’d like to see some in-story implications that it’s first come, first served. There are also almost no people in the guild(?) building/main office, aside from those who are clearly there to handle administrative tasks.
Breath of Fire 2 came out for the SNES in 1994. The two main characters were shown to be in a similar business. The main office was always full of people, and the intro of the game suggests that they took this job because it was one of the only viable options for men of their age and positions. The story branched off from there, but I’m just saying.
Folklore is another apparently pretty game with a story that sounds good on paper and ultimately disappoints. However, it is impressively inferior to Resonance of Fate.
Again, we have a Dollfie design for the characters, although in this case, the main male character is more Cool Because while the female main character is the Dollfie. The nice-on-paper version of this story is that you have two protagonists, each playable in chapters, following their own stories. Ellen has been brought to an island famed for offering contact with the dead, by a letter from her long-missing mother. There, she meets some colourful ghosts and travels to the Netherworld as a messenger between the dead and the living, while pursuing the mystery of her mother and her own past. Keats works for a paranormal magazine, and travels to the same island after receiving a phone call from a distressed woman who claimed that the faerys(sic) were trying to kill her. He follows behind Ellen, observing and trying to solve a less personal mystery.
The truth of it is, this story is not only told with all of the skill and emotion of a dead Stephanie Meyer, but the marriage of graphics and gameplay is definitely on the rocks. Ellen comes off as psychotically whiny as Katara over the subject of her mother, and Keats’s mystery involves the death of a woman they both see at the beginning of the game. They both make out of nowhere assumptions regarding her–Ellen decides that it’s her mother, while Keats claims she’s been murdered. Neither assumption makes any sense, but try telling that to anyone.
That should be sufficient to explain the awful writing, pacing, and characterisation. The absolute worst is that, while this game appears to be one that will rely on passable FMVs, most of the storytelling scenes are rendered in creepy 3D comics that move very, very slightly–the only movements are breathing and blinking. It’s worse than trying to read The Dreamland Chronicles.
The major difference between RoF and Folklore is that RoF, with all of its failings, had some interesting gameplay. The story was somewhat linear, but there were certain freedoms offered, and the game did what it could to keep the player from missing optional missions. Folklore is claustrophobic not only in its world design and layout, but also in the pace at which the player is allowed to play the game. Resources and characters are constantly recycled. There is no relatable emotion attached to any of the characters. Even in Ellen’s case. Her over-the-top behaviour makes her mother issues annoying instead of inviting empathy.
The game world is tiny and incredibly empty, character movement is blocky at best, the camera is on a hiccuping mission to get you murdered, and the only actual gameplay is comprised of combat and taking sidequests that have less content and impact than a building tutorial level in Little Big Planet.
And apropos of almost nothing, the way that Ellen stands makes my arm hurt.