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Review

Fable: The Journey Review

  • Game release: October 9, 2012
  • Reviewed:
  • X360

By focusing on strong character development and beautiful locales, Fable: The Journey provides an engaging adventure enhanced by satisfying motion controls.

The arrow is buried deep in the horse's side. You wave your arms while uttering soothing words, trying to calm the frightened animal. Once the horse is docile, you approach your four-legged friend slowly, careful not to upset her, and then rest your hand gingerly on the protruding arrow. With the utmost care, you pull the projectile from her body, steadying your hand so as not to cause even more pain to the distressed creature. It's a simple act that takes no more than a minute to perform, but it has a powerful effect on your state of mind. Fable: The Journey establishes strong emotional weight through smartly crafted scenes enhanced by the Kinect's motion-sensing capabilities, creating a rewarding and exciting adventure.

Albion is once again in need of a hero. As Theresa flees from an unseen monster, Gabriel is kind enough to help her onto his carriage and away from harm. The relationship between the 300-year-old seer and the green boy who dreams of long gone fables is slow to develop. The characters chat while sitting around a fire or while riding through the striking locales, and there's a clear hesitancy in forming a deeper connection. Theresa has seen countless friends die during her centuries of life and thinks of Gabriel as little more than a tool she can use to save the world. And Gabriel would rather curl up in a soft bed, with his loyal horse Seren nearby, than go on a dangerous adventure.

But through painstaking trials and debilitating ordeals, the two characters grow closer. Fable: The Journey makes great use of the few characters who make an appearance in this story. Although the basic save-the-world plot hits the expected notes without much flourish, it's the people you meet along the way you care about. When Fergus tells the story of his deceased wife, ravaged by balverines years before, you nod because you've heard this tale of woe before. But as you travel the road, Fergus is forced to confront his demons, and you form a deeper, more nuanced understanding of his grief. Fable: The Journey provides occasional moments of levity to keep you smiling, but it strikes a more somber tone than previous games in the franchise. And the heartfelt moments carry serious weight because the game earned your sympathy.

Don't enjoy the sights too much while navigating a treacherous path.

In no place is this more apparent than in Gabriel's relationship with Seren. Throughout the game, he talks about how close they've always been. About how he's been riding on her back since he was a toddler and how he travels everywhere with her. And although that does establish their link, such trivia does little to move you. It's not the telling that makes you care about Seren; it's the actions you perform. Pulling out an arrow is just one of the horse-keeping tasks you do to maintain her health and happiness, and these little activities have a big effect on your feelings toward her. Brushing her coat to scrape off the dirt from the dusty roads or feeding her an apple has little tangible impact on your adventuring, but these quiet interludes draw you closer to her. This is your horse, after all, so you ensure that she's well fed and clean. These bonding moments make up a small portion of the entire journey, but they leave the biggest impact on your experience.

Of course, there's much more to Fable: The Journey than caring for your horse. This is an on-rails adventure in which you continually travel toward the Spire, where your ultimate fate awaits you at the end of your journey. Much of the game involves riding down lonely roads behind your constant companion, Seren. By gripping imaginary reins in both hands, you crack them to speed up your horse, adjust your hands to race through turns, or raise your arms to come to a stop. With experience points to collect and winding curves to navigate, there's little time to rest, but the repetition of steering a horse could become tiring before long. Thankfully, Fable: The Journey spruces up this simple activity. Eye-catching visual design ensures that every craggy mountain pass and splendid waterfall delights your senses, and Theresa's eager storytelling fills you in on the expansive plot.

But you can only ride your horse for so long before you must dismount. Once you're on foot, the adventure is still on-rails, but the action shifts to combat. As the chosen hero, you have gauntlets that let you fire off powerful magical bursts. By waving your dominant hand, you command an electric spell that quickly whittles away the health of every balverine and hollow man you meet. Your off hand produces a push spell. Toss an enemy off a bridge or spin an armored foe around to expose a weak point, or just see how long you can juggle a hobbe before you get tired. Aiming is tricky because spells go in whatever direction you thrust your hand, so it's easy to be way off the mark if you're not careful. But this is not a big problem. Every attack homes in on nearby enemies, so as long as you aim in their vicinity, you're sure to land a hit. And even if you should miss, there's little punishment for failure. Attacks can be blocked by moving your arm in front of your chest, so you won't often die at the hands of a horde of eager enemies.

Combat scenarios become more complex as you get deeper into the adventure. You eventually learn five different spells, and the tougher enemies require you to use a few in tandem to finish them off. You may stun a group of attackers with a push spell while readying a fireball with your other hand, and then set the lot on fire just when they think they're safe. Or you could split your spear in pieces by flicking your hand after you toss it, causing magic shards to rain down death from above. Bosses force you to make use of all your powers at key moments, and though these require you to think fast, they're easy enough that the frustration level is kept low. This is a game that would rather entertain than challenge you, so the enemies push you to take advantage of your many spells without forcing you to move with the speed and precision of a real sorcerer.

Still, there is some frustration with the motion controls. Spells home in on enemies, but not always on pieces of the environment. This becomes a problem when you have to solve puzzles. At certain points, you have to push or zap a background object, and you may fling your hand a half dozen or so times without anything good happening. After a few moments pass, the game highlights exactly what you're supposed to do, and then you need only flick your wrist to complete the task. It's maddening that you often have to wait around for 10 or so seconds to pass an obstacle, especially when the game so helpfully provides a homing ability in other activities. These moments of unresponsiveness shouldn't derail your journey, but they do interrupt the horse-petting, magic-flinging fun.

None of the various actions you perform are particularly thrilling on their own, but Fable: The Journey maintains your attention through smart pacing. Fighting a group of hollow men is hard work, and you're liable to be tired after whipping fireballs for a few minutes. Thankfully, just when you're aching for relief, the game switches to something else. Smoothly drifting between riding, fighting, grooming, puzzle solving, and storytelling tickles different parts of your brain, keeping you focused without any scene overstaying its welcome. Feel free to stretch out lazily during a cutscene and then sit upright when the action resumes, grabbing the imaginary reins once more as you set off on another quest.

Not even a kamikaze hollow man can survive against a fireball.

Excellent visual design has been one of the defining characteristic of Fable since the franchise began, and that tradition continues in Fable: The Journey. The tightly structured progression allows for more environmental detail than before, and the subtle artistic touches that enliven the variety of places you visit create a mesmerizing atmosphere. Round a corner along a rocky pass and you see a serene waterfall wash away the filth of the rampaging hobbe army that just careened through the area. The visual splendor pulls you into the world of Albion, making it a place you want to inhabit, and the expressive animations make the characters more lively. Seren in particular benefits from these touches as she neighs affectionately and nuzzles your arm. Her devotion fuels your own, enriching your relationship with this adorable companion.

Fable: The Journey makes excellent use of the Kinect. By focusing on just a few different actions that don't require much precision, it keeps you keyed in on your experience rather than fighting with the controls. But that's beside the point; you won't even be thinking about the controls before long. It's the way this game unfolds that's so enthralling. From the strong relationships you build to the dangers you conquer along the way, you're drawn in until this fantastic story is resolved. Fable: The Journey recognizes beauty everywhere. It doesn't matter if you're admiring the grand mountain vistas or having a quiet moment at the camp with Seren, you understand why it's worth fighting for the things you care most about.

The Good
Strong relationship building
Well-realized Kinect controls
Smart pacing gives you ample time to rest
Beautiful visual design
The Bad
Motion controls don't always register properly
8
Great
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0 comments
suprsolider
suprsolider

Oh look, Tom is reviewing this. It got the same score as The Last of Us.

The Last of Us is a real game, Fable the Journey is a crappy Kinnect title.

Yet they got the same score, funny how that works Tom. Did you enjoy the money Microsoft sent you? Since that is the only reason why it got such a high score.

Jandurin
Jandurin

lol you noobs just don't know how to use kinect properly because you have so little coordination

vgmkyle
vgmkyle

Tom rates this Fable spin-off the same score as the Last of Us. Three cheers for stupidity!

Slydog39
Slydog39

I honestly don't trust Gamespot reviewing anymore, not when they're scores can be radically different from so many others. If I want a 'real' review, I'll go to Kotaku or watch Good Game on ABC2.

InquisitorCrox
InquisitorCrox

G$ supporting yet another mediocre M$ game, helping them build up their hype and fool more of the sheep gamers that buy according to the game rates?

It sure rings some bells here doesnt it?

But it is now more obvious than ever, esp after the open war, G$ declared on the Japanese based companies, the G$ channel exclusively on M$'s 360 couldnt come as a surprise...

Imagine the rate and the hype Halo 4 will get!!

vincent_tai
vincent_tai

I played Fable 2 as my first game for my XBOX360 (yes I am a late adoptee, shame on me!) ... and I played Fable 3 out of (1) loyalty and (2) anticipation.  It failed me on the anticipation count and thus lost my loyalty.  I am really hesitant to try Fable the Journey now... especially because I have a Kinect and I have first hand experience to know that it  it is really not designed for hardcore gamers...

Leria
Leria

Most likely, the 'ease of the game' was because they haven't quite mastered Kinect-enabled gaming yet. Once they think that they have mastered making Kinect-enabled games and using Kinect functionality, we will see the difficulty go up a little in future games.

dreamfist11
dreamfist11

Isn't this the dumbass who wanted Medal of Honor to stop working after you died in the game

Nuke_FonKillazz
Nuke_FonKillazz

gamespot dont review games fair anymore...the company who pay alot will get high score :/

Luke2009
Luke2009

Zelda Skyward Sword 7.5 --- MC 93

 

Infamous 2 7.5 --- MC  83

 

Fable: The Journey 8.0 --- MC 62

 

THE POWER OF MONEY :((

 

 

 

Dre1Lasha
Dre1Lasha

I've never had any problems with the kinect not working.  I have no idea where all the "hardcore" gamers get that idea...

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

The only thing I gather from this review and the subsequent comments is that it does not matter what GS scores a game, people will complain that it is either too high or too low!  ok so about 70% of MC scores for this game are either mixed or negative so perhaps gamespot just loves petting horses with motion control!  there are games I read about and think, man i'd like to find time to play this.  This garbage is so far from being one of those titles...literally i'd rather pick my nose first :)

Morph_The_Cat
Morph_The_Cat

The Fable series has been largely the same for a while. Cut these guys a break for trying something new.

gix47
gix47

an 8?? Now i know gamespot is bought and sold,lol.

gamespot you just lost all credibility...no shame at all...

IGN has more credit and more honor then you Gamespot..this is just sad.

Deevis
Deevis

8.0 for this crap ??? and 4.5 for Resident Evil 6 ?? there is something seriousely wrong with your Marketing Department's involvement into Review decisions ... nuff said ... i think i have to reconsider my account.

Klikandclick
Klikandclick

I like how one guy's opinion on a video game can cause so much turmoil.

sonicare
sonicare

Not a fan of motion controls.  Hated the wii controller.  Haven't tried connect, but i suspect it's something similar.

Dragon_Nexus
Dragon_Nexus

 @InquisitorCrox The fact you swapped the S for a dollar signs pretty much voided your entire argument.

Whatever it was.

IceJester45
IceJester45

 @LeoGoBezerk Those reviews are nothing alike. The games are in different genres. The pros and cons are not the same, which is sort of irrelevant because the games are in two different genres. Oh, and the games are in two different genres. 

 

Different genres, different standards.

 

Also, good game review websites never catered to our will and tastes very much because that's not their job. As far as this review goes, I don't see anything in it that is not factual, and I don't see any opinion in it that's not defensible. I might not agree with the score, but I can see where McShea's coming from. I'd have to be a robot or a zombie to do otherwise.

i-like-me
i-like-me

 @Luke2009 Yeah cause i'm pretty sure Sony and Nintendo would have no money to pay for good reviews. Stop looking for a conspiracy that doesn't exist.

GoaterSlayer
GoaterSlayer

 @Morph_The_Cat  Incorrect. Fable 1, had area maps, and lots of extras, a full upgrades system, manual aiming with bows. Fable 2 simplified, streamlined it more, took out maps and aiming making it a worse game, Fable 3 made it so your character walked with the sluggishness of GTA 4 without the character animation to back it up, and somehow they ruined the inventory system and made it not only the worst Fable, but one of the worst games I have ever played, this new one with the Kinect, seems like a pretty effective answer the question, "how do we make Fable even worse, glitchier, and more unresponsive than it ever was?"

GoaterSlayer
GoaterSlayer

 @gix47 I just boycotted IGN after years of going to them, gamespot is way more credible. Whatever rating Fable 3 got on IGN was just as outrageous.

Dre1Lasha
Dre1Lasha

You know IGN gave this game an above average score of 7.2, right?  Maybe you need to rethink your childish assumptions.  Here are some of the reviews that gave fable an 8.0 and over.

 

http://venturebeat.com/2012/10/15/fable-the-journey-review/view-all/

http://www.egmnow.com/articles/reviews/egm-review-fable-the-journey/

http://www.mondoxbox.com/recensione/1577/fable-the-journey.html

http://www.gamingxp.com/bericht-5807-microsoft-lionhead_studios-x360-fable_the_journey.htm

http://www.hardcoregamer.com/2012/10/09/review-fable-the-journey/

 

 These are only some of the above average reviews.  You have also not played this game apparently, so you have no reason to claim foul.  I have actually played this game and completely agree with this review.



IceJester45
IceJester45

 @gix47 Some gamers don't like this game because it's a Kinect game. Plain and simple. These people will cry foul at a positive review regardless of how good the game actually is. It's these people, not GameSpot, that have the credibility problem.

Utnayan
Utnayan

 When you see a discrepancy of about 20-30 points in comparison to not only meta critic but the public for review scores, it's a pretty clear indicator one particular magazine sold more "Advertisement" space to that particular game.  This game is horrible, with horrible controls, shouldn't sell, hopefully doesn't sell, and people can start making games that matter. This particular review when compared to anything else out there is amusing.

 

ggregd
ggregd

 @sonicare In my experience Kinect is more accurate and more responsive than Wii remote and it allows for input from more than just one point, in other words your whole body and not just the hand with the controller in it.  

 

It still doesn't compare to a controller or mouse and keyboard.  Although you're not playing Dance Central with a controller, are you...  Ultimately it has to fit the game.  this reviewer thought it did, mostly.

ildvm
ildvm

 @Gelugon_baat

 

Read review. How about I have sense and know between a proper video game and the game on rails. Which is for gamers and which is for casuals.

 

 

xGarrettThiefX
xGarrettThiefX

Yeah I agree Fable 3 is one of the worst games i have ever played in fact it ranks right up with Far Cry Instincts Predator for x360 (vomit !)

GoaterSlayer
GoaterSlayer

 @Gelugon_baat  @Deevis Agreed. Reviews are personal opinions, and the guy who gave RE6 a 4.5 probably has a similar taste in games to me, because what they've done is unacceptable, they could have at least kept weapons upgrading.

Dre1Lasha
Dre1Lasha

 @Utnayan Really? Anything else out there?  Ign gave this game a 7.2.  Many other sites gave it scores like that also.  In the public reviews it seems pretty obvious that mainly people who haven't even played the game voted.  People like to lash out with their hatred.  Also, most of the metacritic reviews you look at are 20-30 points different than others.  Do you need to learn about averages again?

IceJester45
IceJester45

@Utnayan First, the GS score is less than 20 points higher than the GameRankings score. Second, a higher-than-Metacritic score is most certainly not a clear indicator that the site was swayed by advertising dollars, unless you have some sort of additional evidence. Third, user reviews on this very site have been pretty good (take a look). The game is not universally hated by the community. Finally, have you played the game? If not, how.do you know it's terrible? How do you know it controls poorly?

IceJester45
IceJester45

@ildvm @Gelugon_baat Rail shooter cater to core gamers almost exclusively. They're all about score attacks and 1CCs (do you even know that means, Mr. Oh-SoCore Gamer?). That's why they remain fun for a long, long time. They're extremely replay able. If you don't get that, then I think you just don't understand videogames. Sorry.

ildvm
ildvm

 @IceJester45  @Gelugon_baat 

 

Do not have time to look into what is called gradius. Game on rail has to offer to core ? it just being stupid. May be you can say it is fun for a while. However this no way justifies the guys review with respect to other games he did.

IceJester45
IceJester45

 @Gelugon_baat Hey, sometimes the evidence is heavily on your side. Sometimes other opinions are stupid.

 

But, I don't really consider the other guy's opinion to be unimportant. I responded to it. Hell, I indulged his opinion.

IceJester45
IceJester45

 @Gelugon_baat  @ildvm I know. It's stupid to try. I'm just indulging ildvm here. It seems to me that any definition should include a decent knowledge of gaming history -- including basic knowledge about what series like Panzer Dragoon and Gradius are.

IceJester45
IceJester45

 @ildvm  @Gelugon_baat That's just silly. I am a core gamer, and on-rails games with their scoring mechanics and such have plenty to offer core gamers.

 

And, the fact that you have "no idea about" Panzer Dragoon, Ikaruga, Time Crisis and Gradius makes me think you're not the core gamer you believe you are. I mean, you don't know about Gradius? Seriously?

ildvm
ildvm

 @IceJester45  @Gelugon_baat 

 

Have no idea about the games you mentioned there but games on rails is something I  wouldn't  say any core gamer would like. In fact anything with kinect is an instant fail. I think Microsoft was right when they said for some people pressing button is difficult to play games. lol. Making games on rails with Kinect is good. May be for people like you

ildvm
ildvm

 @Gelugon_baat 

 

I don't have time to go back and reply to the original quote sometime last week or so.

IceJester45
IceJester45

 @ildvm  @Gelugon_baat Totally correct. On-rails games like Panzer Dragoon, Ikaruga, Gradius V, Time Crisis -- totally for casuals. Not for gamers. Sure.

GoaterSlayer
GoaterSlayer

 @xGarrettThiefX  Far Cry Instincts Predator was just a tragedy. I've never played a game that was ruined by the dead aim zone being messed up. It could have been such an amazing game and deal.

xxYetterxx
xxYetterxx

 @Utnayan From your description it doesn't look like you've played it at all.  I have, I like it.  I'd give it a 7 and therefore don't think this review is all that far off

IceJester45
IceJester45

@Utnayan That's just not true. A 62 score on Metacritic indicate mixed reviews, not universal critical failure. Further, iser reviews have also been mixed, not universally negative. And, no, it hasn't been panned critically since the early showings. Also, I know people who have played the game and liked it.

Utnayan
Utnayan

Because I, and others, have played it. It is being universally panned. It has been since even the earliest of E3 showings. Poor controls, horrible plot, gameplay development beyond anything seen in Fable 1 is non existant, and one guy up there said it best, this entire game seems like a horse/barbie simulator.

 

Fable: The Journey More Info

  • Released
    • Xbox 360
    Fable: The Journey is the newest installment in the Fable franchise.
    5.9
    Average User RatingOut of 109 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Fable: The Journey
    Developed by:
    Lionhead Studios
    Published by:
    Microsoft Game Studios
    Genres:
    Action, Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Mild Blood, Mild Language, Violence