Fable: The Journey's Moving Finale

Tom Mc Shea explores how smart Kinect controls upped the emotional connection in the heart-wrenching adventure, Fable: The Journey.

Warning: This editorial contains massive spoilers pertaining to the ending to Fable: The Journey.

I finally understand the Kinect's enormous potential. In the waning moments of Fable: The Journey, I needed to make a choice that I had been dreading since this game was first announced. Would I be able to accept my role as hero and step through the light with Theresa, knowing that doing so would doom my loyal horse to death? It's an incredibly heart-wrenching decision, one I fought against as hard as I could, but when the moment came, there was nothing I could do. The fate of the world hinged on my decision, so I had to turn my back on Seren, and live with the knowledge that I had dragged her along on a quest in which she could not possibly survive to see the outcome.

A horse in need is a horse indeed.

Before you understand how gut-wrenching this moment was, you need to know how this relationship formed during the course of our adventure. Every action in Fable: The Journey is controlled with the Kinect, and the hands-on approach to character building helped mold the feelings that developed along the way. Seren and Gabriel, the would-be hero whom you control, have been inseparable since young Gabriel was a toddler. Their bond had been cemented years ago, but my connection developed during the course of the game.

The most obvious bonding moments occurred whenever Seren suffered an injury. Hobbes and other enemies ambushed us while traveling along the road, and they have no sympathy for innocent animals such as Seren. So they planted explosive barrels and wooden barriers in the road to upset her gallop, and fired arrows down from the safety of their overheard perches. She whinnied with distress when these weapons made contact with her, but I pushed her onward, and she obediently complied with my wishes because she had absolute trust in me, even when her life was in danger.

After the escape, I searched for a quiet resting place along the road. Once stopped, I examined just how much punishment Seren had taken from those nasty creatures. Sometimes, she would rise on her hind legs, kicking her hooves wildly in the air, because an arrow shaft was lodged in her hide. By waving my arms and uttering soothing words, I eased her distress and then slowly removed the arrow from her side. Other times, I'd rest my hands on her open wounds to knit them tight. She would neigh affectionately after I fixed her up, clearly grateful for my efforts, and she might even nuzzle my arm. Seeing her respond to my actions was uplifting, so I did as much as I could at every rest stop. Sometimes, I would just brush the dirt from her hide or feed her an apple, and these simple actions helped strengthen the bond between us.

I usually don't buy into the idea that motion controls are more immersive, but they have been so smartly implemented in Fable: The Journey that I couldn't help being sucked into this dire situation.

My actions were no mere press of a button. As I reached my arms into the space in front of me, I realized I wasn't just mimicking the expected motion; I was doing so tenderly. I slowly closed my fist around the arrow, and gently drew it back, careful to hold it steady and not cause my virtual companion any undue harm. Just like that, I was much more invested in caring for Seren than I ever would have been with traditional controls. I usually don't buy into the idea that motion controls are more immersive, but they have been so smartly implemented in Fable: The Journey that I couldn't help being sucked into this dire situation.

Which brings me once more to the end of the adventure. Theresa told me that we'd have to leave Seren behind because only two living creatures could make it through the portal. Gabriel rightfully reacted with anger, saying that such a proposition was crazy, that she should be the one to stay behind, and I was nodding along with him. Through the many hours it had taken to reach this point, my attachment to Seren had only grown. I liked Theresa and wanted Albion to thrive, but I didn't care about them like I did my horse. So I was furious that I had to leave her behind, and appreciated just how well the cutscene mirrored my own thoughts.

Once you regain control, the power of the Kinect comes to light. Gabriel thinks that by killing the approaching army of monsters, he'll be able to save Seren. And I too assumed this to be true. So while enemies flooded the screen, I lashed out like never before. My arms swung with the fury of a man possessed, unleashing fireball after fireball as quickly as possible to stem the tide of attackers. Theresa yelled from offscreen, begging me to forget the enemies and just go through the portal, but I didn't care. I eliminated the enemies as quickly as I could, hoping against hope that I could somehow save Seren if I dispatched them all in record time.

When the final enemy fell, another cutscene played out, and I stared eagerly at the screen while rubbing my aching shoulder. But, alas, my efforts were for naught. Seren must still be left behind, and she would still be consumed by the corruption that was engulfing everything. I was angry.

Arms crossed indignantly across my chest, I scowled at Theresa as she begged me to grab her hand. We had sacrificed so much to reach this point. The growing evil had killed our friends, turned proud villages into piles of rubble, and threatened to engulf Albion in a black shroud. By accepting Theresa's hand, I would be able to stop this menace that had taken so much from me, but I had to lose my most loyal companion in the process. I stared at Theresa for a minute, hoping there was some way I could change my fate. But I couldn't. With laborious effort, I grabbed hold of her hand, leaving Seren behind.

I firmly admit that I'm a sucker for animals. But even being predisposed to such affections, I had never before felt an animal-related sacrifice as emotionally devastating as the one at the end of Fable: The Journey. It took a few years and many setbacks, but there's finally a Kinect game that demonstrates how removing the barrier of a controller can create an even more powerful emotional connection than previously possible.

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Discussion

28 comments
luc48
luc48

Agree that utilization of Kinect is quite unique and works pretty well. Just finished the game and I agree really devastating moment but couldn't there have been a twist? I guess don't like these kind of endings and I feel they could have done bit more here. Also if the game would have been made more difficult it would have increased the tension in the game. Not sure why they played it overly safe with difficulty level including the puzzles.

 

Still what do you compare this Kinect game to? Still a great game and nothing really like it and there's hoping we'll get a sequel that will improve all these things (make it more difficult, add multi-player and perhaps bring back the horse:-).

 

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

afraid to read due to spoilers but what I got out of this is the game is pretty good? about time a legit motion control game has been released and also did a good job at it... need to get me a kinect 

Fembot_Eulogy
Fembot_Eulogy

Very cool.

I'm pleased to see that controllerless games are finding their place. I have never played one yet, but with the way McShea has described this connection, I can't see why I wouldn't want to give this a go. 

 

I was about to say: 'Tom McShea, you are truly an animal person!' but then he said it at the end. 

ebeorietemethhp
ebeorietemethhp

great article. felt/thought many of the same things you did while playing this. one of the more memorable scenes in the game to be sure.

Frankenstrat247
Frankenstrat247

"heart-wrenching adventure"?  Really, GS?  This is "oscar-worthy story"-level hyperbole.

Fursnake
Fursnake

Wow this awful game doesn't even have the saving grace of featuring a happy ending. The sacrifice of the horse sounds contrived and forced based upon the nature of the storytelling in the game. Seriously, is the game overall so dark and depressing that it needs a crappy ending like that?

 

If I had played through this game only to get to that ending, I would have been pissed. 

Granpire
Granpire

I hate it when there's an article, and I can't read it. :PBut... I don't have an Xbox, nor will I anytime soon. So... 

tgwolf
tgwolf

It's Teen, good! It's XBox! Bad! Ah, but I was never too crazy about this 'moving' series anyway...

Wula_
Wula_

From what I seen with kinect games. Maybe the game makers need to think outside the box. Instead of focusing on one single controller. Why not consider making games that use a regular controller. After all if a person has a kinect with their 360, chances are they have a regular controller as well >.>

 

That way games can focus control when it is absolutely necessary with a traditional controller. Then use the kinect  for sequences that are meant to make a stronger bond between characters or certain events throughout a game? Because how hard it is it for a player to put a controller down for a few mins to do a kinect section then back again?

 

Just a crazy idea I had. But what if a dev. actually considered it. Could we possibly see a higher influx of good Kinect enabled games if they did something like that?

 

Also I know some games use just the mic portion of the kinect. But why the hell couldn't they use a regular headset to do the exact same thing? or are devs struggling too hard to get a kinect sticker slapped onto their case of the game to pretend that they are being modern?

Jonwh18
Jonwh18

A lot of games have emotional decisions. I don't understand how being an emotional game saves this rail shooter that has controls so bad that ,to paraphrase Tom's review, it's a problem to to basic actions and you have to wait for the game to let you continue with the wrong motion. Controls should be the primary concern with on rail shooters not a horse, an arrow, and a choice.

eiji1
eiji1

The penultimate line for Gabriel in that clip, though a bit too self referential, worked really well.

bdous
bdous

The reason that all fable games are great is that even when you make  a "right" choice the game will make you feel that you made the wrong one

Galad
Galad

I like the homage to Placebo in the first caption!

kingcole225
kingcole225

"But even being predisposed to such affections, I had never before felt an animal-related sacrifice as emotionally devastating as the one at the end of Fable: The Journey."

 

Clearly you never played Shadow of the Colossus.

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

 @Frankenstrat247 

 

how you interpret an 8 as "oscar-worthy-story" is beyond me, and this is tom opinion not GS as a whole.

Jonwh18
Jonwh18

 @Wula_ They have already tried to implement that idea. See steel battalion. Terrible game.

Deadly_Nemesis
Deadly_Nemesis

 

That's because the games have always worked with a black and white moral system with no room for grey. Fable 3 half the things you have to do at the end to save people is viewed as the evil choice. That's not a good thing either. Other times though...no, the game just pats you on the back for being the good guy.

Hey_Jay
Hey_Jay

 @cephas90 Someone's life isn't very fulfilling. Oh, by the way, I meant you.

TomMcShea
TomMcShea

 @kingcole225 I had posted a response already, but deleted it so as not to spoil two games in one post. Shadow of the Colossus is an incredible game (one of the best ever) and you also grow incredibly close to your animal companion in it. But it's very different and, ultimately, I cared more about Seren than Agro at the end of both adventures.

 

Still, great example.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

 @Jonwh18  @Wula_ Yeah but everyone knew Steel Battalion was going to suck monkey balls the moment we heard the cool controller(y'know, the whole reason the first two games even existed) was going to be ditched in favor of Kinect.  I can't believe that even one person at From Software and Capcom thought that that was going to work.

Hey_Jay
Hey_Jay

 @cephas90  @elbauto  @Stringerboy Uhm, that was exactly the problem. There was a warning for spoilers in the article before it even began. You, however, revealed the spoiler without warning for the sake of a judgemental comment. You essentially took what you thought was wrong with the article and made the mistake yourself. People can read that there was going to be spoilers in the article, but it was you who ruined it for the rest of us. Congratulations.

gutsallover
gutsallover

 @ilantis  @kingcole225

You're right, Argo doesn't die. If I recall correctly, at the end you see him with a broken leg (broken due to him falling off of a cliff). It's still really sad, though.

Jonwh18
Jonwh18

 @jinzo9988  @Wula_ And everyone knew that Fable the Journey would suck the second it was announced as a Kinect game. I am a long time fan of fable, and this game is a serious disservice to the series.