Folklore (known as FolksSoul in Japan) was an early title for the Playstation 3, an action adventure game with JRPG elements.
It features as our stars the young student Ellen, a Mysterious Waif with an amnesiac past, being summoned to the town of Doolin, Ireland by a letter from her dead mother. At the same time, Keats, a skeptical reporter for a third-rung occult magazine receives a phone call from Doolin begging him to save her from "The Faerys". These two characters meet up at the same place, only to find the woman who summoned them both has been murdered.
In the course of trying to unravel the mystery of her murder, Ellen and Keats are separately drawn into the Netherworld on the night of Samhain and begin discovering, by meeting with various dead people, that a chain of events starting 17 years ago in Doolin is dramatically affecting the present. Ellen forges forward seeking the truth about her past, while Keats, like any good Intrepid Reporter, hangs around just trying to get a good story. A conflict in the Netherworld gradually comes to light while more people in the present day Doolin are turning up murdered by a mysterious woman known only as "The Hag", and everything somehow connects to Ellen's missing past.
The story is told through two perspectives: Ellen and Keats play separate storylines through the same areas until a certain point in the game, allowing the player to start filling in the gaps between the overall storyline. Ellen's powers come from the various Cloaks she wears, which allow her passage into the Netherworld, while Keats' are drawn from having been transformed into Ellen's guardian merely by being within her presence the first time she donned the Cloak. And then, there are the Folks, which are both enemies and weapons to the protagonists: the game's defining feature is the ability to subdue the various Folks and absorb their Ids in order to utilize them as weapons within the Netherworld.
The game's method of delivering its plot is also of note: instead of relying solely on Full Motion Video, it also switches between that, a series of comic-book style story sequences, and traditional dialogue.
- Action Girl: Ellen.
- Agent Scully: Keats. It takes a lot for him to actually accept the supernatural. Even when he travels to the worlds of the dead, he merely shrugs his shoulders and calmly assumes he must be going insane.
- Ancient Conspiracy: With poor Ellen at ground zero and Keats dragged along for the ride.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Being an Agent Scully obviously means Keats is prone to this.
- Badass Bookworm: Keats. Definitely does not look the type of guy to beat the crap out of demon souls with his bare hands...
- Badass Cape: As part of the Battefield Cloak.
- Badass Longcoat: Keats again. He even gets to wear a modified version of it in his Transcended form.
- Bare Your Midriff: The Cloak of Sidhe, and later the Cloak of Midnight Sun.
- Bifauxnen: Suzette may appear somewhat androgynous, which (some speculate) is why her crazy mother occasionally confused her for her older brother. However, within the story itself, it's a bit more likely that this was more a result of Sanity Slippage.
- Big Damn Heroes: Keats busting in on the courtroom scene to rescue Ellen. Also doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Bodyguard Crush: While Keats is basically thrown into this role against his will, he genuinely comes to protect Ellen out of a sense of chivalry. Then again, he later learns he might not have had much of a choice anyway...
- Boring but Practical: All of the shielding Folks don't seem like they're that great if you master the dodge step, but with health recovery being virtually nonexistent in the game outside of specific areas of the map, they can be a godsend in prolonged boss fights, Spriggan in particular.
- Killmoulis too. It can only take one hit, but that's any hit.
- Similarly, using the small fry Folks at their maximum karmic release tends to be a quicker and easier way to rack up damage on most enemies than your bigger, more Magic-consuming folks. On the other hand, the big guys are still incredibly useful, especially against higher-level folks and bosses ordinary creatures might not be able to touch.
- Burn the Witch: This is the reason Ellen and her mother left Doolin in the first place: their sensitivity to the existence of the Faery Realm led to them being accused of many of the tragedies that befell the town.
- Clothes Make the Superman: Ellen's power in the Netherworld comes from the different cloaks she wears. Presumably, so does Livane's.
- Crapsack World/Crap Saccharine World: Most of the Netherworld Realms, at least by way of Fridge Horror, but also justified as these Realms base on the fears of humans about the afterlife.
- Warcadia is a world of constant war, and the soldier-type Folks there seem to have a WWII-esque uniform.
- Hellrealm goes without saying.
- The Endless Corridor is created from thoughts of modern people pondering what is in the afterlife or if there is even one at all. The unanswered questions and doubts form the realm. It hovers over a bright void, and the player character can get trapped by being sent to a previous point if they fail to achieve the requirements.
- Dead All Along: Keats, kind of: Half-Lives are essentially ghosts, but they're not the souls of people who were alive in the first place, they're created by strong desires or wishes. Keats was created by Herve's final wish to save Cecilia's life, and in that sense could be said to be a remnant of Herve, in the image of Cecilia's drawing of how she thought Herve would look as an adult.
- Deadpan Snarker: Keats.
Keats: "A murder in the village of the dead? Somebody tell me this is a joke..."
- Eldritch Abomination: Scarecrow becomes one for the final boss fight, transforming into a misshapen creature made out of what appears to be a mishmash of thousands of crows and a very pissed off Great Old One.
- Elemental Powers: All folks except the non-elementals use attacks based on one 'element'. They include the classical elements of fire, water, etc, and such 'elements' as 'Destroy' or 'Slash'.
- Elves vs. Dwarves: The Faery Lord's beautiful fae subjects and Livane's shady and brutish-looking ones. Subverted in that Livane's people are actually the noble ones, while the Faery Lord and his people are most definitely not.
- Estrogen Brigade Bait: Keats again.
- Expy: O'Connell has a probably-not-coincidential resemblance to Vincent Price.
- The Fair Folk: The Faerys in this game fight you about as often as they help you. And then there's the Folks themselves, which just want to kill you on sight outside of the sidequests.
- Fake Longevity: Unfortunately, the game does suffer from a bad case of this. For the first five worlds, you must complete them twice: once as Ellen, once as Keats. Aside from different enemy placement and a few level layout changes, there's very little differentiating the two playthroughs.
- Framing Device: The murders happening in Lemrick/Doolin. This is what brings Ellen and Keats together, and are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the mysteries surrounding the town.
- Gotta Catch Em All
- Guide Dang It: The sections in the Endless Corridor's maze where you have to follow Habetrot can get frustrating because even if you follow the right one, one mistake can reset your progress, and you have to go through the process and the battles again.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Herve insisted on having his blood transfused to Cecilia to save her life, although he knew his condition was already bad enough that it would probably result in his death.
- At the end of the game, it's revealed that Belgae is a Half-Life created by a warrior who sacrificed himself in order to protect Livane.
- Hub Level: Doolin itself, though Ellen and Keats each have their own respective hubs where the player can make them sleep to pass the time or save the game.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "I'll throw the book at you!"
- Kangaroo Court: The trial that Ellen is subject to in Hell Realm is full of preconceived conclusions, as it's meant to be a symbolic representation of her own guilt
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Ellen can't remember anything about her life from before the time her mother died (and apparently her mother's death as well).
- Lighthouse Point: Kind of serves as a motif for the game.
- Light Is Not Good: The Elves.
- Living Memory: The dead don't continue to exist in the Netherworld, they are dead. All what remains of them are echoes in form of memories that a Folk named Mnemosyne feeds on and can 'replay'.
- The Lost Woods: The Faery Realm is essentially this, with a mix of Ghibli Hills thrown in for spice.
- Mama Bear: Ellen's mother Ingrid will kill without hesitation to protect her daughter.
- Mega Manning: Both Ellen and Keats get powers by absorbing Folks. However, the ways they manifest are different: Ellen is a summoner, while Keats manifests spirit helpers.
- Mind Screw
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Livane, whom we find out is much more noble than she initially seems, and WAY more than the Faery Lord.
- Not So Harmless: The denizens of Hell Realm seem fairly innocuous at first, giving you tips like most NPCs and discussing cloaks. The first little cracks of ugliness show when they wonder what you're doing in a realm for those who are to be punished... and suddenly, they don't seem so harmless anymore when they decide to play a few rounds of Break the Cutie with Ellen.
- Occult Detective: Subverted: while Keats's job as a writer for an occult magazine would naturally make him this, he actually doesn't BELIEVE any of the stuff he investigates.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: There are two variants of this:
- One is the Half-Lives. They aren't souls of people who were once alive, but beings created when a human has such a desire or wish so powerful, it manifests in a corporal form and carries a purpose based on that desire/wish. Once that purpose has been fulfilled, their reason of existence ceases and so do they.
- The memories of the dead that Mnemosynes carry. They can assume the form of these persons and communicate with others as if they were still alive. The dead are still dead, however.
- Painful Transformation: Keats' first cutscene in which he is given his Transcended form. When he reverts back to normal, he remarks that "Even the pain feels real." He also writhes around a lot when the player activates his Transcended Mode, so it apparently still hurts no matter how many times he does it.
- Parental Abandonment: Ellen never knew her father and her mother died... But then she receives a supposed letter from her mother revealing that she is actually alive. And then this is subverted: Ellen's mother abandoned her to protect her from the machinations of the Faerys.
- Primal Stance: Keats in combat in the Netherworld, especially in Transcended form.
- Real Is Brown: Doolin is colored in shades of sepia and dull yellow, compared to the bright colors of many areas of the Netherworld.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Livane is at least 5000 years old given the game's timeline.
- Rule of Symbolism: Each Netherworld Realm represents collective human thoughts and views about what the afterlife is like.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Keats does this a lot. His glasses also glow bright purple when he's fighting in the Netherworld.
- Scenery Gorn: Warcadia, the Endless Corridor and Hell Realm.
- Scenery Porn: The Faery Realm, the Underwater City and the Netherworld Core.
- Shout-Out: The title of the magazine Keats writes for is Unknown Realms, one of the titles for the game while it was in development.
- Stripperiffic: The Twilight Cloak.
- Super Mode: Keats Transcended form, which drastically boosts the powers and effects of his attacks until the gauge runs out.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Keats can come off as this when faced with some of the more insufferable characters.
- Tomato in the Mirror: When Keats finds out at the end of the game that he is a Half-Life, and the player discovers that he's not really a reporter at all, his "office" was just another part of the Netherworld, and the magazine he supposedly wrote for folded 17 years earlier. This is further enforced by one of the downloadable quests in which an outsider to the village couldn't see Keats because she didn't believe in magic.
- Town with a Dark Secret: Doolin.
- Trial of the Mystical Jury: Judge Yama's court, which puts Ellen on trial for breaking the laws between the human and other worlds.
- Underwater Ruins: The Undersea City.
- The Unfavorite: Suzette's mother went crazy after losing her son and husband and took it all out on Suzette.
- Visual Novel: Some of the cutscenes and nearly all of the in-game dialog (as in, non-cutscene) has the feel of one.
- Waistcoat of Style: Keats.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: A lot of them; none of the villains are really in it for themselves.
- Special mention goes to Scarecrow though. Absorbed all the fear in the world and planned to terrorize humanity into being more compassionate.