Reading reviews of this game before I played it myself, I had mixed feelings about the title. But once I got through the tutorial level and the story kicked off properly, I was definitely hooked. Fable – The Journey makes you become the hero of Albion. And as the journey goes on your abilities grow – and so do you as a Hero.
In this Fable game you are a young Dweller called Gabriel who is on the road with his clan and his trusty companion, his horse Seren. He likes to dawdle behind with his cart and spend time revelling in old fables. One day Gabriel falls too far behind and when he is about to catch up with his people, who are crossing a bridge, lightning strikes and the river becomes impassable. While trying to find a way around, his life becomes entangled with the fate of Albion. He saves the blind Seeress Theresa from an attack of a great Evil – but this is just the beginning. As they journey on together Gabriel must learn to harness the power of Will (magic) and he must learn that the Heroes in fables don’t always have a choice…
The story is very gripping, especially if you know the previous Fable titles as well. There are always nods and references, but never in such a way that you would feel left out if you didn’t know the other games. What makes The Journey so immersive are of course the Kinect controls. You are the controller. You are casting magic spells and driving the cart and opening chests with your own hands. The Kinect controls worked mostly fine for me and you soon get the hang of using your range of abilities. One thing is different to other Kinect games – here you actually sit down, rather than stand up. I think it made sense for the game (you drive the cart sat down for example), but I wouldn’t want all Kinect games to do this. In this case it fitted well.
Once again I want to mention how much I love Lionhead Studios’ Fable-esque storytelling and humour. There are plenty of crazy characters around (the bickering ghostlights, Benny the Magnificent, the cursed soldiers…) and there were plenty of small things that made me smile. I loved the little story beats throughout Albion with the fraudster fortuneteller Benny. It is so worth reading all of the description of the collectible items as well. They are taken from the earlier Fable games and will make you remember many little things like chicken kicking, Chesty, the hunt for Gargoyles and Silver Keys and so forth. That said, there were a few moments in the game that made me well up – they really know how to lead you through a story. Be warned – being a Hero means making sacrifices.
One of the comments I often read is “This is not a Fable game”. I would beg to differ. I see why it doesn’t work as a Fable title for some gamers. You can’t make choices that influence the story and you can’t explore Albion freely. It is basically a “game on rails”, very linear gameplay. It is also not as extensive as the previous games. But I would argue this is a Kinect game, so there isn’t quite the scope for it. I was actually very impressed by the length and depth of the game, considering it’s a Kinect title. For me it was a proper Fable experience, though. The world I was driving through was beautifully designed, as ever. The characters are all slightly bonkers – in the best way possible. The humour is very tongue-in-cheek. And the story works really well for the game – very crafty storytelling. They never claim to revolutionise the “Hero” cliché – they pay tribute to the long tradition and simply enjoy bringing their own fable to life, always drawing on story elements we know and love.
Fable – The Journey is a wonderful incarnation of the Fable series for Kinect. As you learn new skills over the course of the game, it doesn’t get too repetitive – especially as you progress through the story and find new motivation. It’s a fun game, that will make you smile, but you should also prepare for some thoroughly sad moments. A playthrough can take around 3 days of more or less casual gaming and when playing through the other Fable titles again, Fable – The Journey should definitely be part of that series playthrough. A wonderful Kinect game, that lets you experience the journey of a Hero.