Having games exclusively developed for a console is a big deal and is usually a deciding point for many gamers as to which console they will choose to buy. The Fable series has always been an Xbox exclusive, aside from some Windows releases, and has been praised for its charming storytelling, comedic characters and sense of adventure. Fable: The Journey is Lionhead’s first Kinect title and a chance for gamers to set off on another adventure in the great kingdom of Albion. Gamers have mixed views when it comes to the Kinect, so can Fable: The Journey create a more positive opinion or is this the final nail in the coffin for Kinect and possibly Fable? Let’s find out!
For the first time in a Fable game you’ll get to play as a named protagonist – Gabriel. This young fellow is part of a travelling group of nomads who take in the many sights that Albion has to offer using their faithful horses and packed wagons. One morning, as Gabriel is packing his wagon and playing with his trusted steed Seren, when he realises he is late for the next move. After a short trot and a detailed tutorial on how to control Seren, Gabriel is almost back with his adopted family when a violent storm fills the skies and blocks the path. This forces Gabriel to take a different route where he meets Theresa, a seer that Fable fans will recognise, and learns how to use ancient magic to combat an evil that has returned to Albion. This is only the beginning of Gabriel’s adventure which takes him to every corner of Albion battling familiar monsters such as Hobbes and Hollow Men and exploring forests, mountain tops and villages.
In previous games, the combat has played a dominant role and has an extensive levelling system with lots of abilities and choices to allow players to fight how they choose. In Fable: The Journey players only have a select few abilities available to them such as lightning bolts and a push ability. The lightning ability is how you’ll be taking out most enemies while the push ability is a good way to keep enemies away from you when the going gets tough. Both of these are performed with some simple hand swipes or thrusts forward depending who you want to hit but can be a little awkward to perform if you do not calibrate your Kinect properly. This can make some battles a pain to get through and if you do not keep your Kinect set up you may need to calibrate your Kinect each and every time you load up the game. The other side of the game take place on your wagon and is a lot easier to control than the battles.
Controlling Seren and your wagon isn’t hard to learn and can become quite a fun activity to do once you get to grips with the controls. Cracking the reins will get Seren going as a slow pace but can also go at a steady pace and a gallop when cracked two more times. To slow Seren down you only need to make a gesture like you are pulling the reins back and to make a sudden stop you simply raise your hands above your head. The only other control you need to learn is how to turn which is done by moving one hand back and the other one forward depending on which way you would like to turn. There are many obstacles in your way as you travel across Albion and little experience orbs that will level up your magic and Seren’s health and stamina. These orbs are also found after killing enemies and play a vital role in improving both Gabriel and Seren. At times Seren may become injured at which point you will need to help him. This is usually done by removing an object from his body which requires careful hand gestures and rewards you depending how delicately you can perform this task.
If there’s one thing Fable: The Journey really has going for it, it’s the music. The Fable series has always been praised for having a fantastic soundtrack that helps immerse you into the world of Albion. With epic scores which set the scenes during the game’s main story perfectly it’s a delight to listen to and can help lift your spirits during a particularly tough battle. It’s definitely one of those soundtracks that you can take away with you after finishing the game and quite happily listen to in your spare time or while working which is always a plus! Partnered with this soundtrack is a stunningly beautiful game that has visuals unlike most Kinect titles and really goes to show that not all Kinect titles are throw away titles. The detail in the characters, enemies and environments are rich with colour and bring the whole of Albion to life.
For Kinect owners who love Fable, The Journey is a must buy and will likely result in many hours being spent traversing Albion, enjoying a charming story with interesting characters and likely finding a new love the Xbox 360 peripheral. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you need another Kinect game or you’re trying to find an excuse to purchase a Kinect, Fable: The Journey is by far one of the reasons to pick up this piece of kit. Is this the end of Kinect or Fable? Far from it.