New Folklore demo is great - let us tell you why

Those lucky Japanese will be getting their release of FolksSoul (FolkLore, to us English speakers) in three weeks. Because of this, the Japanese PlayStation store has been updated with a new demo of the game. We've played it. Twice. You should too. Click here if you need help setting up a Japanese PSN account. Got it all set up, and started downloading? Then read on after the jump to find out exactly what you'll be playing once that gigabyte demo lands on your PS3.

Firstly, the menu. I know, I know. 'Get to the good stuff,' but the main menu of FolkLore is more interesting that you might think. Along with the normal things you come to expect, such as 'New Game' and 'Options' are some intriguing, but unfortunately inaccessable, eyecatchers. 'Dungeon Trial' and 'Costume' both sound like fun, right? One menu item is written in Kanji, which we cannot read. If you know what this is, we'd love to hear. The full release will have the ability to install, as well as having a web browser accessible from the game's main menu.

The game itself looks gorgeous. The overall art style is truly unique to this game, though there's a hint of Miyazaki in some of the more inhuman character designs. Cutscenes occur in a curious way, with quick cuts and dynamic 'speech bubbles' popping up throughout. Voices have been removed from the demo to save space. The colours and lighting work together with all this to create a great atmosphere.

Enough stalling. Onto the gameplay. The characters control well, though when running from place to place you may find yourself suffering from 'Invisible Wall Syndrome' from time to time. Dialogue happens in cutscenes or Enchanted Arms style talking-heads. Nothing new or interesting there. Where the demo really shines is in the combat sections.

After picking one of the two main characters, Keats and Ellen, and going through a few minutes of story you will be transported to the Folks' world. Here you can try out the excellent battle skill system. Combat revolves around the gathering of Folk's Souls (hence the name) and using their abilities. So in defeating a new enemy, you gain a new attack. The demo may indicate that the two characters will come across different Folks on their separate journies, as Keats uses ground-based attacks in the demo while Ellen uses air-based attacks. Whether this will translate to the full game is unclear, but there will be Folks' abilites that are common to both characters.

The demo contains several different Folks' souls for you try to out. A basic attack and defence move, area based attacks and a monster summon. These abilities can all be mapped to the square, triangle, cross and circle buttons. Collecting multiple souls of a certain type will upgrade the attack via an exp system. To capture a soul in the first place, the Folk must be sufficiently damaged for its soul to be released. A press of R1 will then have your character grab it from a distance. The controller must then be yanked upwards, in a whipping motion, for the capture to be complete. This is a great use of the SIXAXIS controller and feels really satisfying when you collect multiple souls at once. Doing so will even net you an exp bonus.

The only disappointment we have is that the demo is too short. We're curious to see how the different characters' special abilities (Keat's 'beast within' and Ellen's magic cloak) will work and so will definitely be picking this game up when it finally gets released in the west. Just see if we don't.