Since it began almost seven years ago, the Fable franchise has always embraced freedom. From choosing which side of the morality coin you wish to fall on to more domesticated decisions, such as who you want to marry and where you want to live, players have had the ability to go down whatever road they desired. In Fable: The Journey, which series creator Peter Molyneux announced today, you have the choice to put down the controller once and for all and use your body to guide your character through the world. This upcoming entry in the series makes full use of the Kinect--a first for the franchise--and is set for release sometime in 2012.
The demonstration began with a prerendered view of Albion. The focus is on a flying insect, and the narrator talks about how the age of heroes has come to a close. No longer are heroes born into the world; they must be made. The narrative setup shows the adventurous insect swooping through trees to avoid a hungry owl. In Fable III, the game began with a similar narration following the exploits of a confined chicken making a break toward freedom. It looks as though Lionhead is continuing the parallels between humans' and animals' respective fights for liberty.
After the bug makes its heroic escape, a human finally appears onscreen. A man rides along in a horse-drawn carriage, casually taking in the sights of the beautiful countryside. After a while, a familiar-looking woman bursts on the screen. Her face is covered by a veil, but she resembles a younger version of Theresa from Fable III. She joins the man in the carriage, and the adventure proper begins.
A cloud of nothing (like something out of The Neverending Story) creeps up on the unsuspecting people riding in the horse carriage, bringing with it a trail of death. This spurs a chase through the woods, and control of the game is handed over to the player. You can see the demonstrator onstage sitting down as if he's the driver, waving his arms in tandem like he's urging the horses forward. This motion is replicated in the game, though the sense of freedom looks limited. There's no chance to change directions, so you just bolt down a narrow path, intermittently waving your arms to speed the horse on.
After a little while of this, the horse stops running, and you continue on foot. Like the horse-running sequence, this plays out in first-person and appears to be very similar to last year’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. It's entirely on rails, so you don't get to choose where you walk at all. Instead, you set off down predetermined paths, waving your arms to kill the enemies in front of you. In the brief demo, hobbes were standing like cannon fodder, while the player annihilated them with magical blasts. Different motions conjured different spells. For instance, during one attack, a player wound his arms, stretched them out, and then slung a spear. There are also melee attacks that involve swinging your arms.
Stay tuned for more coverage of Fable: The Journey as details become available.