The Fable series is back on track, this time fully Kinect enabled, how did this major transition impact the beloved Lionhead Studios series? Fable: The Journey is the story of a simple dweller young man named Gabriel and his horse Seren, both being part of the gypsy caravans frequently depicted during the series. It’s been hundreds of years since the events of Fable 3, and good portion of the large cities lay in ruins after the Devourers attack, as you travel the lush forest covered ruins of roads and small villages you get separated from your people and end up saving Theresa, the Seer from previous games, from the spread of corruption.
This corruption pursues you during a large portion of the game, and the game circles around the three previously mentioned characters most of the time, Theresa wants you to try and be a Hero, while Gabriel just wants to take care of his horse and reunite with his people, his relation with his horse is heartwarming and sincere, being one of the main topics of the game. The discussions with Theresa about the past are also very interesting, bringing back the canonical events from previous games and mentioning some characters like Jack of Blades and Reaver, unfortunately though, none of these characters make an appearance.
You watch as Gabriel matures from a scared young teenager into a proper Hero, his changes are slow and nice to watch, making the story this intricate weave of background provided by Theresa, emotion provided by the link between the group and courage demonstrated by all of them in different moments of the game. The quest goes from reuniting with your group to becoming a true Hero, and it shines brightly, matching the vibrant sights you pass while you travel in your coach through the mountains. The visuals and sound of the game are brilliant, it’s great to look at and the music and sounds not only bring back the nostalgia from previous Fable titles, but it fits just amazingly well with the tone that game is taking, be it on peaceful or agitated moments.
Now, the Kinect implementation is an interesting thing in Fable: The Journey, the first screen of the game asks you to grab a comfortable chair and sit down, simulating the sitting position that Gabriel will be in while riding his coach, this is depicted with several screens showing a human sitting down in the correct position and a Hobbes sitting in awkward positions with the tag line “Be a Hero, not a Hobbe”, it’s charming and fun, making me laugh in between loading times. There are two gameplay situations, one is while you ride on the coach, you move by holding your arms straight like if you were holding the reins, if you crack the reins, the horse goes faster, but Seren can only go so far without tiring down, also obstacles and bonus experience points on the road make it so you need to change speed frequently, making it a very boring and repetitive sequence, this makes up a good 50% of the game.
The other 50% are battle scenarios, if you are on foot the game will walk you automatically after you kill everyone in the screen in a Time Crisis like fashion, you fight with spells and you unlock several during the course of the game, you can use them without changing anything cause they are all linked to an individual arm motion, making it less repetitive and more enjoyable. The issue is sometimes the game doesn’t quite get the motion you made and might fire in a random direction or not recognize what movement are you doing. You can also be shooting while the coach goes automatically, the controls are the same in this situation as if you were on foot.
It’s an extremely repetitive game, going on a cycle of peaceful coach riding, running way from corruption, action segment on foot, and then a pause to take care of Seren. Thankfully the characters and story managed to save the game, but is it really worth playing through it? Fable: The Journey is short, probably eight hours long, making it not such a tasking effort to wave your arms to the end of the game, and having only one other game mode, which is essentially a score attack mode of the campaign levels, it doesn’t have any re-playability at all. A sweet story with lovable characters and an ending to a storyline spanning two console generations and four titles, overshadowed by unresponsive Kinect controls and repetitive game play. It is worth a try, but don’t expect any open world action experience out of fun, quite frankly? This IS on rails, and it’s one of the main reasons why the game ended up being a limited experience, sorry Mr. Molyneux.
Bright, vibrant visuals
- Well written story that closes up the arc
Lovable characters with interesting relations
- It’s on rails!
- Repetitive gameplay
- Unresponsive Kinect controls
- Absolutely no replayability