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Folk Tale Preview

Folk Tale is a lighthearted, humorous RTS available now through Steam's Early Access. From developer Games Foundry, Folk Tale puts you in charge of a small group of villagers who are fleeing from their tyrannical leader - a leader who deprived them of their toast. It's your job to build a prosperous new town with a steady supply of toast whilst protecting against local goblin slavers, werewolf monks, and other such threats. Still in its alpha stage, Folk Tale is a game with both a lot of promise and a long way to go.

You start off with a village full of peasants, but peasants aren't much good at anything other than building. Once you have some specialised buildings up and running, you can send villagers for training in various roles - a woodcutter's lodge produces lumberjacks, a mill produces farmers, a barracks produces militia, and so on and so forth. Stone quarries, iron mines and lumber yards must be captured so that resources can be contributed to the town's economy.

folk tale villagers

Planned to be a sandbox game, the only mode currently available is a story-led tutorial in which you have an advisor hold your hand and instruct you on your every next move. It's restrictive and linear, only letting you build on select plots of land, of which there are a limited number in the village and most have an obvious, particular use. Other than following instructions and progressing with the story, there's very little to do but watch your villagers go about their routine and see resources steadily climb.

For those wishing to begin playing Folk Tale immediately, there are a few glaring issues hampering the experience. First, and most crucially, is the complete lack of a save system. If you want to get through the tutorial story, you'll have to either do it in one sitting or leave your PC switched on with the game running. Otherwise, every time you open the game you'll be greeted by the same opening cinematic and must start afresh.

Other than that, there are bugs and incompletions that are mostly forgivable given the game's early stage in the development cycle; villagers seem to disappear sporadically and sometimes go under the map, and the barebones UI is in need of work as there's currently no way to track the number of villagers or their roles, making management difficult. I often found myself ordering people about by clicking on something, having forgotten I had anyone selected, and it took me a long time to discover which key opened my inventory, or even that I had an inventory at all.

folk tale wizard

As it stands, the combat is dull and totally lacks strategy of any kind; train militia, click on enemy. You can change their equipment, but the effects are barely visible. Furthermore, whenever I attacked a group of enemies, they would all target whichever militia came into their line of sight first. As a result, even when I outnumbered my foes, the chances of survival for this one, poor militia were incredibly low, forcing regular pauses to wait for reinforcements if I wanted to progress.

There's a lot to enjoy about Folk Tale. The entire game has a serene, laidback atmosphere, giving it the appeal of a game I wouldn't mind spending hours in, even if I didn't spend that time doing much at all. I really, really like the game's music and feel the slow, lilting, medieval themes were a large contributor to my enjoyment of Folk Tale. The track changes depending on the area your screen is hovering over, giving different locations a very distinct feel. The relaxing theme that accompanies time spent in the village is my favourite.

folk tale island

Considering the alpha status, the graphics are impressively polished; the map is divided into four areas, each with their own look: there's your village, a lava-ridden forge, a snowy mountain temple, and a swamp that's home to a goblin camp. Though the map isn't large, these areas provide the game with diverse and colourful visuals. The water effects are great, and the entire game looks smooth.

Folk Tale also has some more original features that help set it apart from other games. The humour immediately sets you at ease in the opening cutscene, with the narrator explaining the villagers' escape from a tyrant who rationed toast for only a select few, followed by a villager's failed attempt to emulate Ezio by leaping into a hay stack from the top of a building. The goblins share the accent of a chavvy individual you might find on Eastenders. There's a wizard named Camphrey who is, well, camp, and there's much debate over whether the villagers will go save their friends and wives from slavers, thankfully settled by the realisation that they need them to help make toast.

folk tale chaucer

Games Foundry is regularly updating Folk Tale, and I can't wait to see some facets of the game become more developed. There's the great addition of a first-person perspective, in which you can traverse your village more intimately, entering buildings such as taverns and cottages. Despite the accompanying sound of footsteps, however, it does rather feel like you're just a disembodied head floating around, able to walk on water as easily as land. I'd love to see this built upon, perhaps given the option of having conversations with villagers and actually interact with the environment in a way not possible from a top-down view.

Folk Tale certainly has a long way to go, but Games Foundry have announced their focus on creating a sandbox game, with the intention of removing set land-plots, creating more optional quests, and even building a map editor for players to use. The list of buildings and occupations will be expanded, and in sandbox mode the village will be able to grow much larger and make use of city walls and paved streets. More military options are promised, such as archers, mounted knights, thieves and bards. Folk Tale is showing a huge amount of potential, and I can't wait to play the finished game.

Thom Whyte | 21st June, 2013

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