Bernard, who had been recently recruited into the town militia, grabbed a shiny new helm and leather boots, before embarking on an adventure to reclaim some kind of artifact from a monastery filled with monk werewolves. With one swing of his mighty halberd, Bernard barely scratched the first werewolf he encountered and was killed. While short lived, Bernard rose from the ranks of nothingness to being a great knight and protector of his people. Truthfully, he wasn’t so great, but nonetheless, he climbed from being a simple peasant to someone with tremendous potential, even though he never realized it.
Much like Bernard, Folk Tale is a game with tremendous potential as it moves forward. Before I continue, I want to remind everyone that this is an early access game. Numerous features and concepts have not been implemented, bugs can pop-up anywhere, and the game is far from being completed. It can be frustrating to see an icon that has no function or to open a building detail page only to notice several upgrades are listed, but none function. If you are not prepared or have no desire and patience for an incomplete game, do not get this game. Unless you would like to help fund the project, then by all means, purchase this game.
With that being said, Folk Tale is still an enjoyable experience if a fantasy city builder, with role-playing and questing elements is something that peaks your interest. As of the current build, gameplay options include a campaign style tutorial, sandbox mode, and game editing. The tutorial introduces the basics of building, economy and combat. It is here that the RPG and questing elements are located. The sandbox mode is what one would expect in that it provides total freedom to build your town without constraints or objectives. This is the perfect testing ground to further learn the game and explore some of the currently available features Folk Tale has to offer. And if neither the campaign inspired tutorial nor sandbox mode interests you, fire up the game editor and create your own content.
While diverse gameplay modes and editors are great, it’s the core content that drives games into being worthwhile endeavors and consumers of our precious time. Here is where Folk Tale has set itself up to shine. From the moment you begin playing the game, the charming, fairy-tale inspired art direction and vibrant color palette catch and hold your attention. The landscape and buildings come alive through color, detail and lighting (there is even day and night cycles). The level of detail, whether it be a flower covered rolling hill, a waterfall fed stream with a pedestrian bridge, a newly constructed building or even a simple peasant, is visual treat. While exploring the land, small, satisfying details are reviled, such enterable buildings that are alive with people and props, which make you want to continue on and see what else is down the road. The sound is also on par with the great visuals. The town is alive with the sounds of foot-steps, birds chirping, flowing water, wind and much more. Once zoomed in close, brief conversations and dialogue from different peasants can be over-heard, much of it quite humorous. The soundtrack playing in the background also does an excellent job of drawing you into the Folk Tale world with its whimsical melodies.
Nice visuals and sounds alone are not enough to push a game into the realm of worthiness. For that, there must be great gameplay mechanics and features. With the present build, Folk Tale is just barely achieving that level. Presently, a variety of buildings can be constructed and the basic economy system is up and running. For example, you can build a mill and farms to harvest wheat, which in turn is taken to the stock pile to be stored and later collected by the baker so toast can be produced. This system of intermingling buildings to produce a usable product is well received. It’s no so overly complicated that excessive micro-managing of every aspect of life is required, but there is enough to keep you busy and engaged. However, many other buildings and features, such as upgrades and research, have not been implemented in the current build, but the blueprint is there. This can be frustrating at times, but as I said before, the game is still being developed and being able to see what is down the road is promising.
One of the most promising and intriguing features are the RPG elements. Going back to Bernard, I was pleasantly surprised when I selected him and noticed he was a named character. In looking around the town, I noticed everyone, from the baker to the woodcutter to the barmaid, had a name. While some where recycled, they each had a name nonetheless. Beyond that, the foundation for character leveling, special abilities and inventory management was present too. The farmers leveled up the more the fields were worked, the militia men leveled up after defeating enemies, and so it was for the rest of the working town folks. Individual character Inventories could be accessed, which allowed for items, such as better armor or weapons, to be provided. This in turn raised stats such as strength and armor, among other things. And each different character, depending on their present occupation, had special abilities that could be activated. For example, the town priest could heal units or pacify enemy units after activating some of his abilities. Frustrating, many of these features are present, but not implemented into the current game build. But knowing these will someday be implemented provides tremendous promise and intrigue.
All in all, Folk Tale is a visually appealing game with massive potential. It could become one of those rare games which successfully fuses different aspects of some of the most beloved game types into one cohesive unit all while still being unique. However, time will tell as development is 45% complete at the present time. Concerning whether or not you should buy this game, I’d say it depends to your level of patience with early access games and your interest level in city building, light PRG, and strategy gaming. If you can deal with this game being a work-in-progress and have an interest in this style of game, then I’d say it’s a definite purchase. For being incomplete and sometimes frustrating do to non-implemented features in the current build, I can honestly say I have enjoyed my time and can’t what to explore the finished world of Folk Tale.