EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
I think I first bumped into Folk Tale about a year ago. Watching the game's first official trailer, I was reminded of Black & White. I saw a lush world that was just begging to be cultivated and waiting to be turned into an inviting place for colonists to call a home. With a graphical style bordering on the cute, the place looked absolutely idyllic but - as any seasoned gamer knows - such peace and tranquility rarely lasts. Some evil or another will lurk around the corner, looking to destroy all that is good in the world.
Not your average Tale
It is difficult to shove Folk Tale into one of the agreed upon boxes when it comes to assigning it a genre. It has some qualities of a City Builder, but it has limited building space and predefined areas where you can build. Most of those are geographically tied to resource locations such as forests and stone quarries for lumberjack huts and stone masons respectively. Because of that, it is unlikely that your village will significantly differ from mine, at least not in the Early Access version of the game.
Folk Tale also shares some of its DNA with the strategy genre, in the sense that you create modestly sized armies and use them to pacify new land and defend against intruders. The actual strategy mechanics are very basic but have been spiced up by various RPG elements such as character advancements, equipment and finding various forms of loot after battle. Your units even sport special moves to give them an edge in battle, but selecting those in the heat of a fight isn't as easily done as it should be and thus not actually very useful. Unless this changes for the final build, I don’t think it will not be an often used feature.
Armies can also be involved in completing quests. Quests are somewhat reminiscent of hack&slash games in the same vein of Diablo. In the preview build, you are tasked with breaking through a wooden fortification that was built and manned by some fearsome looking Orcs. A glaringly gay wizard tells you of a gem that can be used to activate a Golem which can then be used to bash through the door. The quest breaks down into three parts: get the gem, activate the Golem and point it towards the gate of the fortification. In a hack&slash game, you might consider such a quest to be a bit too simplistic, but as part of a hybrid game such as Folk Tale it is both unexpected and enjoyable.
As you continue to solve minor and major quests, you unlock new areas that can be explored and settled by your people. The exploration part makes it feel like you are on a grand adventure of conquest, disposing of whatever obstacles get in the way. Every new region feels different and they promise to open up new building types which will invite new settlers to your budding empire. Moreover, they offer a peak into distant regions that are just begging for you to come and explore some more.
Tinkering with an empire in the making
Folk Tale defies classification, but it does surprisingly well in throwing all of its donor genres through the blender and coming out on top. Having only had the preview version to tinker with, it is hard to predict the game's longevity, but I'm getting the impression that if you have played it once, you'll probably take it for a second spin but maybe not a third. But that is quite alright as the first two spins will be filled with the joyous feeling you get when you are playing something new, different and absolutely unique.
There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.