Well, I have to say I’m quite impressed with this game. If you haven’t ever played any of the Fable series, here’s what this one’s about:
Take a new kind of journey through the land of Albion: One you experience firsthand in this adventure built from the ground up for Kinect! At the core of the high-impact storyline is Theresa, a character who’s made an appearance in every one of the franchise’s installments. Fifty years after Fable III, she sends out a call for help. If you’re brave enough to answer, you’ll embark on a journey crawling with danger, brimming with action, and filled with fun characters. Experience the story from inside the game. Explore visually-stunning environments in new areas of Albion, wielding magic, crushing enemies, solving puzzles, and healing your faithful horse with your own hands.
Even though people may state and complain this one is repetitive, which it is, if you are a Fable fan, you won’t even care. The story is so involving that jumping from horse riding to walking around and casting spells doesn’t get old, to me at least. It could also be you are on a quest to unlock Will Stones, each adding a new power so of course you have to test it out. Overall, I enjoyed this one but I am a loyal Fable fan since the first one arrived on the original Xbox back in the day.
When you actually first start the game, there isn’t a menu, you just raise your hand to start the adventure. After you complete it though, you do get some menu items. They are Start Game, Arcade Mode, Options and Extras. The menu system itself uses the typical hover and lock method and it works well as long as you both hands. This is a sit-down only game, so standing doesn’t work. As usual, I’ll break it down.
This is the main story mode of the game. It is a very involving story as are all of the Fable games, but this one kind of reveals some history about the past Fable’s, even the first one. The story does revolve around Theresa but I kind of understand why as I’m guessing Fable IV will be something entirely new and this bridges that gap. As long as you understand this is not a true Fable game, only a short story in the Fable Universe to tie loose ends, then you will be pleased with it. If you are expecting it to be exactly like the previous Fable’s, that’s just not even possible with Kinect at the moment. I will go in detail about what it does have though.
As you make your journey, you will revisit a lot of places in great detail that are in the previous titles. You also get some history lessons from Theresa while you visit. This isn’t a very long game, but it’s enjoyable. It took me roughly 8-10 hours to complete the story mode. When you start off, you are riding a cart attached to a horse. You are making a journey so it makes sense to me at least. Now this portion is argued that it’s on-rails, it is but it isn’t. You can manuever your cart where ever you want but it has to stay on the road, although sometimes the road splits and you are able to choose different paths. Along the way you will encounter rest stops and camps, camps you have to go to although the rest stops are completely up to you, so there is a little bit of freedom. I did notice there are these red signs with skulls on them basically where I think you can fall off the path, although I didn’t want to test it out.
Controlling the horse is quite simple, and Kinect is very responsive. People who are having trouble steering are doing what I did in the beginning, you don’t have your hands low enough and when you bring your hands up to your chest, it slows the horse from a gallop to a trot. It was frustrating but once you realize what you are doing wrong, the controls are flawless. The horse can also sprint, but has a stamina bar that you can deplete although it regenerates. You can also injure your horse by running into things or going over very rough terrain at a fast speed. During the journey, you also collect orbs which give you upgrade points. It takes a few to fill up your upgrade bar and you earn 1 upgrade point each time you fill it up. There are green orbs which can be collected at any speed, blue orbs which have to be collected in a trot, and red orbs have to be collected when sprinting.
To sum all of this up, I did make a video of the introduction to driving as I felt it explains it better than I do, you can view it below:
After you get into your journey a bit of the way (you do have to have patience as it takes a little bit), you eventually end up receiving gauntlets that possess magic spells. This takes you to the other part of the adventure where you can cast spells to battle the bad guys. There are quite a few spells to use, and you use both your left and right hands and do different gestures. The first spell you receive is push and bolt. Push allows you to pull/push things and kind of acts like a whip as you can whip enemies around. Bolt just shoots a lightning ball at an enemy or object. The next spell you receive is Fire, which shoots fireballs. The third spell is Magic Shards, which is more of a spear type deal, they are pretty cool though. The last spell you receive is Light which helps with the corruption, as there is corruption in this one too as it was in Fable III. So with the mixture of spells, you can do some interesting things.
With the spells, the bolt, fireball and magic shard spells also have something called Aftertouch. What this does is when you cast it, if you happen to miss your target, you can swipe to the left or right and it turns into a super spell so to speak, attacking multiple enemies. During your quest when you first receive the gauntlets, you do go through an entire calibration method and I found that actually aiming at your screen instead of where you think they are, works wonders. If you miss, it’s usually because you didn’t aim at your screen correctly, but with the aftertouch option, you should hit your enemies more than miss them. Also, one quick sidenote, you are able to counter projectiles as well when you have the gauntlets.
I do want to mention, this is the first game that voice commands actually make sense. The perfect example is the fireball spell. If you use a Kinect gesture, you have to shake your hand back and forth to turn it from a bolt spell into a fire spell. If you just say, “Fireball” – presto, instant magic spell change. It works fantastic and much quicker than the gesture. Using this method, I’m thinking you could have a lot more than 5 spells. I really didn’t get use out of the voice commands in the other games that feature it so this is the actual first time I welcomed it.
Just so you don’t think the game is entirely horse riding and spell casting, you do some other things related to your horse and spells. For example, when you rest up at a camp, you can fill a trough with water, pick an apple from the tree and feed it to your horse, and also clean and brush your horse. I know the graphics aren’t 100% throughout the entire game, but for the horse part, I have to say, I have never seen such great detail. If you never brushed a horse in real life, when you go different way, the hair goes that way and the light shines differently on it. They actually put this into the game and you can tell which way you brushed the horse, it’s that good. There’s also times when your horse becomes injured and you will have to pull out spears and what not, slowly to not hurt your horse. Once you gain spells, you can also heal your horse. For the spells parts themselves, you will end up learning to use your spells to open doors, solve puzzles among some other things that I don’t want to spoil, so for what it is, I think it’s a decent mix-up even though are there only 2 main game types.
Also there are some other things during your journey, the biggest 2 are probably optional side missions where you can stop on the way. Sometimes you deal with people, sometimes you deal with enemies which leads into finding a treasure chest. Treasure chests only contain collectibles, which give you detailed information about the item, but at least there’s treasure. I would have liked to been able to collect a few different items, but I guess we can’t have it all, yet.
As for the enemies in the game, the beginning is loaded with hobbes, rockmites, and balverines but later on more enemies are introduced. Not all of them are in here, but there’s a good majority. Some are shielded and later on, they get corrupted and you have to use your light spell before you can deal any damage to them so in my opinion, I think it’s a decent mix.
For your upgrades, there are quite a few. You can upgrade your horse, your health, your magic bar, as well as all of your spells to different levels as well. A play through unfortunately does not earn you every upgrade so upgrade based on what you want. It is a normal upgrade system where you have to upgrade level 1 in order to upgrade to level 2 and so on, although it’s split between top and bottom upgrades and sometimes you skip some and they don’t re-appear until much later which I didn’t really like.
That’s pretty much the jist of the game, it doesn’t seem like a lot but being it’s a full-fledged Kinect title, it feels like a lot.
As you complete the story, you unlock Arcade modes of the spell battles within the game. The arcade mode is a little different as you are scored and you obtain multipliers and time bonuses. There’s also scarecrows in each level that I believe just give you bonuses, but some of them are hard to spot. There are 14 different levels that you can win a bronze, silver or gold medal on. To also give an example of how the spells work, I made a video of this as well. In this particular level, I do love battling hollow men for some reason, but I have all of the spells besides the light spell so I tried to show everything in it. You can view it below:
There are few options which I’ll cover briefly. These include Game Options, Brightness and Audio Options. Within Game Options, you have the ability to turn voice commands and the colored reins on or off. You can also change the selection speed and whether you are right or left-handed. You use the attack spells more than the push/light spell, which attack spells are assigned to your primary handedness, so choose whatever is more comfortable for you.
Audio options allow you to adjust the volume for sound effects, music and speech. You can also change your audio output from Home Cinema to Flat Screen TV. Lastly, you can turn subtitles on or off.
There’s a few extras in here as well. Extras include an on-disc manual that explains everything the tutorials do, in case you miss something. Credits and Achievements are in here as well. Collectables are the things you get out of the treasure chests during the story. As I mentioned, they go into detail about items particular from Fable III. I also noticed this game cross references with Fable Heroes, which is an Xbox Live Arcade title. You unlock things in both games by playing both games. Your gold you earn in Fable Heroes as well can also be redeemed for upgrade points, kind of a neat feature. The last option in here is the Xbox Live Marketplace, but I’m not certain if real DLC will be made available, such as different quests and what not.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, if you understand this is not like the other Fable games, you will probably like this title. I would have liked to see a few more Fable elements in it however, such as upgrading armor instead of the health upgrades as armor could have been in the treasure chests as well. I would have loved to have the Puss In Boots sword mechanics put in here, that would have made this a phenomenal game and also allowing you to upgrade swords. Reason I suggest that is in my spell video, you can see how close the bad guys get, it would have been great to have close combat with swords. Lastly, I would have liked to been able to stop in towns and shop around or do little side-quests like the regular Fables and help people out as there are only a few characters in this one, compared to the hundreds in the others.
If you are a fan of the series, you will probably want this one, or if you don’t want to buy it, you will want to rent it. It does make you anticipated for Fable IV as you want to know what happens next, the story is fantastic and the characters are humorous and it all really bonds you with the horse, which I’ve never felt a bond between a main character and an animal in any game before. It was hard to see any replay value as there is lots more in the previous Fable’s, so I’ll leave this one for you to decide.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Fable: The Journey
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