Review: Fable the Journey
(As first published on ITWeb in October 2012)
Fable: The Journey is a spin-off of the popular Fable RPG series made specifically for the Kinect motion controller. This is Microsoft’s first venture into “hardcore” Kinect gaming, and while the game has some serious flaws, it can be loads of fun.
The player is a young unwitting hero, Gabriel, a traveller, who is destined to save Albion from nefarious forces. Early on, Gabriel meets Theresa, a blind soothsayer who reveals his destiny and helps him on his way. As a fan of the Fable series, I loved how this game was able to bring the trademark humour, distinct cartoony visual style and storyline elements of the original, while building on new characters and gameplay.
The mechanics are quite simple: for more than half the game, the player is riding a horse and uses the Kinect motion control to steer, spur it on or stop it completely. During combat, players push forward with their right hands to cast spells and then use the ‘aftertouch’ ability to bend them around corners. Pushing the left hand forward creates a tether to pull baddies towards the player or move objects in the environment. Finally, the player can lift his left arm to block attacks and bounce back projectiles. And he can do all of this while sitting down.
As the game progresses, the player gains experience points that can be used to upgrade skills and health. Unfortunately, even though the player is able to gain new spell abilities later on, none of the upgrades fundamentally change the way the game is played.
The Kinect controller works well… for most of the game. In some of the busier battles and rather epic boss fights, the player is required to use various combinations to effectively combat baddies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work – in fact, the further the player gets in the game, the controls become more and more unresponsive, inaccurate and rather frustrating.
Overall, the game is quite enjoyable. The environment is wonderfully recreated, the story is engaging, and the action – even though simplistic – is loads of fun. Unfortunately, the linear on-the-rails storyline is a major letdown and the Kinect motion controller can be excruciating at times. While this game is definitely aimed for tweens, fans of the Fable series will enjoy this spin-off story despite its shortcomings.
Pros: Beautifully recreated world of Albion, Epic story, awesome boss fights
Cons: Linear story, glitchy controls (that you can only recalibrate by exiting the game), too much time spent petting your horse
Time to completion: 10 hours