The pairing of a console Fable game with an Xbox Live spin-off is not foreign. Prior to Fable II's release, Fable II Pub Games gave players the opportunity to amass a large bounty of money that carried into the main game. A similar system will be in place with Fable Heroes, the upcoming four-player action game that will unlock additional content in Fable: The Journey.
Fable Heroes doesn't involve a serious plot or, at least, one worth noting. This homage gives you the opportunity to play as characters from previous games in a side-scrolling action game that is reminiscent of a board game. In-game characters are portrayed as marionettes, and the environments incorporate a playful art style that may remind you of childhood cartoons.
In game, combat is extremely simple: X attacks while the right trigger and Y buttons allow for special attacks. This is primarily a multiplayer affair, so regardless of whether you're playing with three other people in the same room or online, you'll always have four characters on the screen.
The levels are pretty linear, but there are branching portions. Similar to the good-versus-evil decisions you make in regular Fable games, opportunities will arise that let you choose evil items (which will penalize your partner's character) or good items (which will reward your partner's character). On top of that, certain areas in levels have sections where you can choose to go in various directions. In one such early section, you have the ability to take part in a fun chicken bomb minigame for coins, or you can fight a boss character. If you want to take the easy route, the chicken bomb game has you trying to kick a chicken at other characters before it explodes. But if you want a challenge, then go fight the boss.
Once you complete a stage, a scoring system tallies up the number of coins collected by all participants. On top of bragging rights, the players who collect the most coins will be rewarded with dice, which are then used to level up characters. After the scoring screen appears, you'll be brought to a board game where you'll use the dice you've earned to move your character around a game board. The number you get will move your character around the board, and though you may land on a character upgrade, there are some spots that do not have rewards.
All the coins you collect in Heroes can be transferred to Fable: The Journey. On top of that, your puppet characters can be added to your cart as ornaments. But the rewards work both ways because your progression in Fable: The Journey will unlock additional content in Fable Heroes, including additional puppet characters to use in game.
Fable Heroes looks like it will be a fun distraction for fans of the Fable universe. While it doesn't seem like there will be much of a story, the promise of additional content that unlocks as you play and a fun credit sequence should entice people to play. Fable Heroes is expected to launch later this year sometime before Fable: The Journey hits stores.