Fable the Journey

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 70/100

Fable the Journey Review
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Publisher: Microsoft
Format Reviewed: Xbox360
Reviewed by: Wencke Schuncken

Another fable, another journey, another adventure in the world of Albion. Believe it or not, “Fable the Journey” is the fifth videogame in the Fable series and this one will drain your energy source as it is fully controlled by the players movements. No more wandering and fighting while hanging on the couch. Be a heroine instead of a couch potato and perform multiple actions with your arms to help Theresa restoring her power and unraveling the mystery behind the evil darkness called The Corruption.

 Fable III female gamers review

At the beginning of Fable the Journey, the only resemblance with the previous Fable games is the mentioning of the name Albion, hero bloodline, some enemies and Jack of Blades. It’s a separate game within the series and clearly differentiated from the former installments of the series. Two main differences is the Kinect controlling and the lack of choices, evidently very important to develop your character into a bad or a good character.

The main character is Gabriel, a normal Dweller, who gets separated from his tribe due to his own fault. While trying to catch up, darkness called The Corruption comes into play as it is trying to take over Albion. While the Corruption is expanding, Gabriel stumbles upon a woman called Theresa, a blind fortuneteller. She escaped just in time from the expanding evil darkness and Gabriel decides to help her. But is he able to take her to a place called Tattered Spire to restore her power? Can they form a team to make it till the end? And what influence has she on Gabriel?

 Fable the Journey female gamers review

Besides Gabriel and Theresa, there’s another important character in play; Seren. It’s Gabriels’ horse carrying the carriage throughout the game. Actually with both Seren and Theresa the player will experience the new gameplay and controlling method via Kinect only .Admittedly, taking care of Seren feels like playing “kinectimals”. Brushing, healing, tapping water so that she can drink, giving her food etc. But that is just a very small part of gameplay. Mainly Seren’s needs to be controlled on the journey, keeping both Seren and the carriage on track, avoiding dangerous cliffs and “attacks” of the Corruption. The player actually needs to control the horse to steer it to the left or right, to gain speed or to slow down when the road is scattered with stones, to stop at a resting place or a special spot to find/open a chest or get extra content. Don’t spur Seren forward too much, it will drain her energy, and whenever she cannot cope with dangers (read; the player can’t control her properly) it will be game over!

Controlling, kinect, logical behavior. The way of controlling is quite logical. Most of the time it is required to hold the reins and guiding Serena long at the path. If she is hurt, find a resting place and care Seren by petting, brushing and healing her wounds. Again these actions feel like playing Kinectimals. Other actions are opening chests by putting two arms / hands forward grabbing the lid and lifting the arms up, throwing movements to throw items in game, grabbing an apple from a tree, leaning left or right to get a view from another angle and to avoid any attacks. The most impressive controlling is to manipulate magic with our arms / hands in order to defeat enemies and to force access to new areas (floors, opening doors, etc.) Use your hands to perform certain gestures, and enter a spell crafting mode, which allows players to draw items with their hands and then use them as spells. This enables the possibility to create shields, spears and hammers in order to defeat enemies. In the beginning the kinect controlling method is simple, but gets more challenging when making progress in the game.

 Fable the Journey female gamers review

While traveling the land with Seren and friends, energy orbs can be collected. Steer Seren to collect these orbs to collect and use them to upgrade your character, Seren or magic spells. Upgrade the health, increase the time Seren can run, and even spells can become more effective. If enemies are defeated, life force is collected which can be used to unlock new spells. Whenever you already experienced previous Fable games, this is a familiar feature.

From a female point of view there’s acutally one very important female character in Fable the Journey, besides Seren the horse. If you are familiar with the Fable series, the name and character Theresa should ring a bell. Her role in the fable series starts as the immortal older sister of the Hero of Oakvale. Possessing prophetic powers due to her ancient bloodline, Theresa has a recurring role in all games as a guide to the Hero and is frequently referred to as "the Blind Seeress". Despite her blindness, Theresa possesses extrasensory perception due to her exceptional abilities, and was thus more than capable of killing all who opposed her. As she grew older her power to see the future grew stronger. This was her role in the original Fable game. In other games she also played a guiding and advising role. In Fable the Journey it won’t take long before Theresa comes into play while she is trying to escape from the evil Corruption. Admittedly, I ‘m not a fan of her in Fable the Journey. Understandable that she wants to do the right things, but she’s to pushy and commanding my character, Gabriel, around like a small child.

Fable the Journey female gamers review

Extra features besides playing the story mode is the arcade and special items storage. For an extra round of practice, the arcade mode is just perfect way to replay scenes. Mainly scenes where a lot of Hobbes, Beowulfs, and Rockmites are attacking you. Try to beat your “slaughtering” record in time and share the time and points with friends. The other extra feature is just an inventory storage of items collected during the story mode.

Fable the Journey can be a brilliant game for players new to the Fable series and for those who like to be quite active while controlling a game. Although I like new challenges and the magic feature is appealing, it’s quite exhausting to keep on playing, unraveling the adventure. The response from action and kinect registration is good, but the player needs to focus on the posture, otherwise the kinect won’t register what the player is trying to achieve. And then it can become frustrating!

Fable the Journey female gamers review

Although the gameplay looks easy, don’t be fooled. The kinect increases the difficulty heavily by not reacting as the player expects / wants but is also exhausting playing more than two hours without getting sore shoulders from all the activities such as throwing magic spells, controlling Seren, opening treasure chests, etc.The first two hours are difficult, but once you know what to do and the kinect is calibrated correctly and your posture in front of the kinect is good, the gameplay becomes fun and challenging. It seems that the kinect gameplay can work in an adventure very well, better than expected. Unfortunatly it also contributes to the feeling that this isn’t a true Fable follow-up game. Actually the developers could have changed some more details as the games’ name and in-game names and enemies, and knowbody would have known that it was Fable related. That’s the impact of the kinect controlled method!