E3 Quick Play: Fable: The Journey

The next Fable has been announced, but before you run to play Fable 3 again in preparation, it's not Fable 4. This time Molynuex and the gang have turned to the Kinect sensor for the Xbox 360, creating a game that exists in the Fable world but doesn't feature any of the characters. But does that work? Will you want to play it? And what's all this fuss about the new game being "on rails". We find out.

Name

Fable: The Journey

What platform is it on?

Xbox 360

When's it due out?

2012

What other game is it like?

Fable series

Does it use any new tech like 3D, PlayStation Move, or Kinect for Xbox 360?

Yes – the Kinect

The pitch

Fable: The Journey is poised to take the cherished action-adventure series to Kinect for Xbox 360. Under Microsoft's licensing agreement with Epic, Lionhead is equipped with the latest Unreal Engine technology to bring powerful new experiences to the critically acclaimed Xbox 360 exclusive franchise that has sold more than 9 million copies.

The storyline

Back in Albion Fable: The Journey follows a different path to the one in the Fable games, however exists in the same environment. Set soon after the events of Fable 3, The Journey puts players in control of a new hero who has just come upon Theresa; the blind fortune teller featured prominently in the Fable series. Tasked with bringing Theresa to the Spire, our hero will have to venture through an Albion that will feel somewhat familiar.

Trailers, demoes, and video

Our first impressions

We enjoyed two outings of Fable: The Journey across the course of E3 in Los Angeles. First at the Microsoft press conference at the start of the week at the E3 gaming convention, and then again in a behind closed doors session with Peter Molyneux himself.

Between the two we’ve managed to get a good grasp of the game, seeing different elements and grilling Molyneux at the same time.

What we do know is that the game will be a complete Kinect experience when it hits the shops some time in 2012, and that you won't need to use the controller at all.

“In the past Fable has been about walking, jogging or running,” Molyneux explains to Pocket-lint. “This time you can play the game entirely sitting down.”

Worried that driving around Albion in a car wouldn’t a) fit in and b) involve you having to hold your hands out in front of you – something that would be tiring, you’ll play a gypsy riding a horse and caravan with you arms controlling the reigns of the horse to move forwards, faster, slower, left and right. Pull the reigns up and your horse will move forward, to the right it moves in that direction, and so forth just like driving a real horse. Molyneux tells us whips will be available at a later stage in the game (moral choices and all that).

But it's not just about moving your arms. Molyneux is hoping to include voice control as well so you’ll be able to “click click” or “whooo boy” your horse ditching the arm controls altogether.

Why’s all this important, well from what we can gather it’s going to be the main stay of the game with you riding around in your caravan breaking occasionally to interact with things on the side of the road.

The game focuses around life-force Molyneux explains. Everything has life force and you can take it from creatures, animals, people, pretty much anything in the game. Take too much and they die bringing in a moral choice that we’ve seen in previous Molyneux games.

“It’s not on rails,” Molyneux affirms. “You’ll be chased, you’ll chase.”

That said we immediately go into an area on rails (a pre glide path that sees the game push you along into the action like you are on a train track rather than free movement as in previous Fable games) to take on a group of ghouls. It’s a chance to show off the magic element of Fable: The Journey.

Magic can be wielded with one hand, or both, and depending on your hand movements will depend on what magic you can create and how it is cast. Holding your hands together lets you create the magic and depending on what you do with your hands thereafter will depend on what happens on screen.

We see magic being squished together to create stronger magic, as well as something Molyneux refers to as Creation magic that lets you create shields, spears, fishing rods, and even a telescope. It's magical for the lack of a better word.

Sadly we were only treated to seeing the magic used for the shield and spear elements in our demos, but you get the sense that you'll really feel like a magician casting your spells and setting them off on their short journeys. 

Trying to drive home the fact that Fable: The Journey isn’t about a rails game on foot, Molyneux again tells us that “There isn’t many times when you are on foot.”

It’s something that we are going to have to take with a pinch of salt for that’s all we’ve seen, but other titbits to note is that it's the same team that developed the now halted Milo and Kate venture demoed for Kinect last year and not the Fable 3 team. That means plenty of emotional tugs on the heart strings no doubt and something more than Molyneux has been able to show us in our 15 minute demo.

As to why it’s not called Fable 4? According to Molyneux he didn’t want to be bound by the Fable world. This route allows him to enjoy its surroundings without having to worry about the characters from the previous games or the affecting the storyline.

Our time as always was brief and from what we’ve seen we are really sure what to make of Fable: The Journey. If the walking elements are on the infrequent side then that means a lot of staring at a horse’s arse and we are sure that’s a game we want to play either.

What is clear is that it’s typical bold stuff from the creator of classics like Black and White and the original Fable series and it will be interesting to see how Fable: The Journey develops over the coming months. This is one game where the verdict is still very much out.

Fable: The Journey is out some time in 2012.

Please note

The E3 games convention is a fantastic chance to see the latest games due out over the coming year, as well as, letting us get a glimpse into what is going to be the big titles and the ones to avoid like the plague.

The big problem however is that for most of the titles that glimpse is, well, just that. At the show you'll get to play a level here or a multiplayer map there or even have a product manager walk you through a specific level.

So with that in mind we present you with our Quick Play.

What we've done is broken down the key facts you need to know and then given you our first impressions based on around 15 minutes of gaming. For us that 15 minutes isn't enough to do a First Look review or even a review. How can you rate a game that offers over 30 hours of gaming on just 15 minutes of play? However it should hopefully give you an idea, a feeling, a notion, of what to expect come launch day.