Fable: The Journey - Review

GAME Reviews Fable the Journey for Kinect on Xbox 360

Fable Transformed

Set 50 years after Fable 3, Fable: The Journey offers a completely new way to experience developer Lionhead's long-running role-playing series. For a start it has been built from the ground up exclusively for Kinect, meaning you can't play it with a regular controller, although you can sit down while using its motion controls if you wish.

It also ditches many of the series' traditional moral choices and mature moments in favour of a more accessible take on the fantasy world of Albion. Presented from a first person perspective, it's an on-rails cart-and-magic escapade that often resembles a theme ride version of the Fable universe, complete with a mine cart section.

You play as Gabriel, a young man separated from his tribe by a series of catastrophic events. While trying to relocate his convoy, Gabriel rescues Theresa (who has a recurring role in Fable games as a guide to the hero) from a black formless evil called the Corruption, but in doing so his trusty steed Seren suffers near-fatal wounds.

Theresa guides them to a sacred temple to heal the horse, where Gabriel acquires a pair of powerful gauntlets that allow him to cast spells and grapple enemies. He may never have dreamt of wielding great power, but it's now down to Gabriel to fulfil his true destiny and save Albion from the all-consuming Corruption.

GAME Reviews Fable the Journey for Kinect on Xbox 360

Horseplay / Horsing Around

The gameplay is split between cart riding and on-foot magic sections. The former sees you trotting through a series of gorgeously crafted locations - from mountain roads to forests, fortresses, caverns and swamps, the most recognisable Fable trait in this spin-off is the distinctive world of Albion, which has never looked as beautiful.

The motion controls are intuitive, with flicks of your horse's reins controlling its pace, which is tied to a stamina bar, while you haul back with your left or right hand to steer your cart. It's a largely sedate experience in which you journey along a predefined path, occasionally stopping to converse with people or take in the lovely scenery.

There's no real scope for exploration, although your path will occasionally branch and there are collectible skill orbs which count towards spell upgrades to locate. There are also some natural dangers to swerve around and enemies to outrun or repel with magic, but most of the action takes place on-foot.

Live Action Role Playing

In these sections you can use the powers of Push (thrust your left arm forward to fling objects and enemies), Bolt (thrust your right arm outwards to fire missiles), After-touch (redirect Bolts in mid-air) and Shield, which block projectiles and rebounds attacks when you hold a hand across your chest.

GAME Reviews Fable the Journey for Kinect on Xbox 360

The motion controls are smartly designed and tightly implemented, and as the game progresses your primary bolt attack is supplemented by other spells, including the ability to unleash fireballs and crystal spears, introducing a layer of strategy as you're challenged to identify the best way to target your opponent's weaknesses.

At their best these spell-casting combat sections offer some thrilling set-pieces that act as a great counterbalance to the more relaxed cart riding. Magic wielding can feel fluid and genuinely rewarding, particularly once you start stringing attacks and defensive moves together in dual-handed synchronisation.

Fable: The Journey is the best example yet of Kinect's ability to immerse players in a universe, although there were a few moments when the game had difficulty tracking us properly, and we wonder if the experience would have been equally fun - and probably more accurate - played with a regular controller.

Ultimately Fable: The Journey is a fairly simple on-rails action game which offers fresh ways to interact with the series, as well as the most beautiful depiction of Albion yet. It's a great entry point for series newcomers, and if current fans can overlook its limitations it's a decent enough excuse to get re-immersed in Fable's charming world.

GAME's Verdict

The Good:

  • One of the best motion control games.
  • The world looks gorgeous.
  • Nice balance between blasting enemies and cart riding.

The Bad:

  • Fable fans will need to adjust to the on-rails gameplay.
  • Kinect still doesn't work 100% of the time.
  • Might have been even better with a controller.

Published: 17/10/2012

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