The longest journey begins with a single step
There are a lot of great Kinect games out there—exercise games, dancing games, even some iOS ports—but the hardcore audience is sorely underrepresented on the peripheral. Long have the hardcore waited for a game for the Kinect that could give them an experience similar to what they would get with a controller in terms of enjoyment. And I think, finally, they may have found one in Fable: The Journey.
Fable: The Journey is set 10 years after the end of Fable III. The hero of Fable III went missing a few years prior; Albion is in shambles because of it, as those who would prey on the weak have gone unchecked and an ancient evil has begun to sow it seeds once again. As chaos reigns in the cities of Albion, though, a group of nomads who skirt along the edges of the countryside avoid most of the insanity by keeping to themselves and taking care of each other. Here, among this group of wanderers, players take control of Gabriel, the slacker of this cabal with his head in the clouds who dreams of the days when there were still heroes. Little does he know that his dreams are about to become a reality…
After becoming separated from the caravan when he oversleeps, Gabriel soon finds himself on the most epic of journeys in order to get back to the only family he’s ever really known. Shortly after he starts his trek, though, he picks up a certain blind hitchhiker along the way who reveals to him that the old age of heroes, where they were born, is dead and that a new age of heroes, where they are made, is about to begin.
The most impressive thing about this game—and this should please Fable fans tremendously—is the story. By adding a new take on the original three Fable games’ story, as Theresa tells things from her point of view along the way, you see now how they all tie together as the story progresses. This brings closure to the last few loose ends of those great tales while also setting the foundation for a brand-new epic down the line. With tremendous voice acting, a script that maintains a dark humor throughout, and a plot that’s more than worthy of the original trilogy, Fable: The Journey’s story will suck in fans of the franchise and won’t let them go.
A great story cannot cover up this game ‘s fatal flaw, though. Unfortunately, like the few other Kinect hardcore games, when you boil Fable: The Journey’s gameplay down to its foundations, it’s really just an on-rails arcade shooter that you control with your hands. You’re forcibly dragged through a large chunk of Albion on your cart, pulled by your lovable horse Seren, and it can understandably get tedious at times, especially when the humorous banter of Theresa and Gabriel dries up. There are some mini-games that break it up occasionally, but even these can become repetitive and after a while. All you really want to do is get as quickly as possible to the next area where you blast franchise mainstay bad guys likes Balverines, Hollow Men, and Hobbes, as well as a few new bad guys produced by the Corruption exclusively for this game.
Aside from the repetitiveness, though, this really is one of the more polished Kinect games out there. The sensor actually picks up your arms when you try to throw fireballs or perform any of the other spells Gabriel learns along his adventure, which, if you play with the Kinect with any sort of regularity, you know is a big accomplishment. There is also some replayability to the game with a full-blown arcade mode alongside the main campaign where you can play through certain segments of each level again and attempt to hit high scores and chain together combos. Combine all this with graphics that just might make this the best looking Fable game yet, and all I can is that if you’re a Fable fan with Kinect, The Journey is a must-have.
SUMMARY: A great story that Fable fans will absolutely eat up, but some long stretches of lonely road keep this from being an absolute must-have for every Kinect owner.
- THE GOOD: The deepest, most complete story for a hardcore Kinect game yet.
- THE BAD: Riding in a caravan is about as much fun as you’d think…as in, not fun at all.
- THE UGLY: Everything the Corruption touches.
Fable: The Journey is an Xbox 360 exclusive.