Fable: The Journey Review
Do you remember when Peter Molyneux was showing off Fable: The Journey earlier this year and he said, though it was using Kinect, it was definitely not an on rails experience.
No matter how many times he was asked by the gaming press, he replied in the same way and was adamant that Fable: The Journey would capture that Fable RPG mix of action, humour and drama and use Kinect’s full body motion control to bring it all to life.
Well, now that we’ve played Fable: The Journey we can tell you – it bloody is on rails.
Now, we’re not about to review a game and criticise it for being something it isn’t, because if we did that for all of Molyneux’s titles we’d find they were all talked up in some way, but Fable: The Journey does raise some interesting questions regarding its genre.
You can’t really call it an RPG, though you do level up your abilities by collecting orbs. It’s also a decidedly rigid action game and the choices afforded to the player are nearly non-existent.
It took us a while to figure it out, but Lionhead’s big Kinect offering is essentially a lightgun game, without the lightgun.
There’s a bit more to it than that, but not much. You take up the role of Dweller Gabriel, who in a cruel twist of fate and some prodding from Fable overseer, Theresa, finds himself in possession of some magic gauntlets that grant him the power and responsibility to fend off an attack from The Corruption.
Fable: The Journey really does offer a visually spectacular adventure.
Travelling across Albion with his horse and cart, Fable: The Journey takes up the road movie template and sees Gabriel attempt to make his way back to his convoy and defeat the evil that’s taking over Albion.
There are two parts to Fable: The Journey that can be described as gameplay. Firstly, you’ll be behind the reins of your horse as you travel from A to B.
It’s a linear road with the occasional forks but you can only ever stop when you’re given the option and turning around is impossible. This makes spending time on the horse and cart pretty dull as Lionhead insists on fleshing out its wafer thin narrative with incessant exposition.
At times Fable: The Journey feels like an interactive movie, the production values and visuals are all beautifully crafted and it does a good job bringing Albion to life.
While on foot Gabriel takes players through locations and this is where Fable: The Journey morphs into an inaccurate lightgun game. You use your left and right arms to cast different kinds of spells and even after following the lengthy set-up instructions and recommendations, it still doesn’t work properly.
Rather smartly, Fable: The Journey never asks you to stand up, allowing you to play the whole thing sat down. Just don’t sit next to anyone or slouch, and for goodness sake, never cross your legs.
When the action ramps up you’ll find that you’re forced into casting lots of spells very quickly. Kinect really doesn’t like that.
Your right hand casts offensive spells such as fireballs and spears with your left letting you interact with the game world and characters, but Lionhead rarely gives you anything interesting to do with them.
The camera plods from place to place, just like in Time Crisis, and sets you up for the next round of enemies. You’ll occasionally be given the choice to lean left or right to avoid in-coming attacks, but as far as Fable: The Journey is concerned, the player is just along for the ride.
When you are given a choice it’s when to stop along the road. Stables give you a chance to heal and groom your horse, using Kinect to pull out arrows and brush the mud of its back.
The only incentive to do this is XP and it fails to capture the same player/animal bond that previous Fables have exploited with the dogs. At times it feels like Lionhead has lost what makes Fable special.
It looks like Fable (and at times The Journey looks beautiful), it even sounds like Fable, but it doesn’t feel like its part of the same series. Even the jokes and humour fall flat.
Despite this the ride can still be enjoyable, even if it does feel like it’s aimed at children. Combat is let down by Kinect’s inconsistencies when reading your body movements, but it’s still fun in small doses.
Along the road you’ll find ‘dungeons’. They’re not really dungeons, more extra rooms where you’re spammed by tons of enemies.
Travelling along the road gives an unseen view into a Albion’s stunning world and the occasional horse-based set-piece livens things up, but you’re a voyeur with very little say in what goes on.
In many ways Fable: The Journey is this generation’s Dragon’s Lair.-¨ -¨Lionhead’s latest is big budget, showy and yet ultimately shallow. It looks the part, but limits player interaction to the bare minimum.
Kinect drags the experience down, restricting the action instead of freeing it and opening it up to new innovations and it’s a real shame it uses the wonderful Fable world in which to do it in.