Folklore PS3

Folklore PS3
Unjustly ignored during the holiday deluge, dark fairytale Folklore deserves a second chance at life — ironic, seeing as how the game is largely about death — especially since Sony keeps releasing extra downloadable quests.

It begins when Ellen, an orphan, receives a letter from her mother, long believed dead. She follows the postmark to the craggy, seaside town of Doolin, Ireland, otherwise known as the village of the dead. Here, she encounters a sceptical journalist from an occult magazine who received a similarly mysterious call from a woman pleading to be saved from the faeries. As it turns out, this village got its nickname thanks to its proximity to the netherworld.

Unlike the depressingly dour Doolin, which will remain your daytime hub and involve numerous fetch quests for its haunted inhabitants, the afterlife offers a brightly coloured wonderland filled with fairies, monsters and fantastical creatures known as "folk.” Yes, you will beat them senseless but they are breathtaking to behold. These folks are your enemies as well as your weapons — the action-RPG’s unusual game play has you throwing your captured folk at other folk and each fight ends with your physically ripping their souls out of their chests with a tug on the sixaxis controller.

The deal breaker for some gamers could be the game’s tendency to unspool its complex and creepy murder mystery as if it were a visual novel. Though the animated cut scenes are quite wonderful, most of the plot and dialogue are delivered via comic book-style static images and text.

The impatient may be also be put off by the double-pronged narrative, which has you playing each level twice, once as each character, and the oft-interminable loading screens that pop up all too frequently in the netherworld’s seven realms.

Though set in (and under) Europe, this very Japanese game looks more inspired by the works of Spirited Away’s Hayao Miyazaki and it’s worth the occasional slog to explore one of the most imaginatively drawn game worlds in recent memory, a visual achievement that makes up for Folklore’s flaws. (Game Republic/Sony)