Kinect on the Xbox 360 undoubtedly makes a great gift for gamers at Christmas if they do not already own the motion sensor device already. The amount of friends I have that would rather someone else bought it than themselves can run on both hands, but I think that’s more so down to the reputation Kinect has for bringing the Wii-style-esque casual games to the platform – only without the controller. If you have been thinking about buying your child or other-half a must have accessory for their console – Kinect isn’t much use without a few games and Fable the Journey is one that comes recommended.
Having reviewed a fair few games for Kinect only now, I’ve jumped through hoops, I’ve swung my lightsabre, kung-fu kicked and even danced in motion to pop songs, but one of the best looking and more mature games for the device I’ve ever played has to be Fable the Journey, from both Lionhead Studio’s and Microsoft Studio’s. It’s a title that allows you to feel like you’re progressing a character in the Fable world. Albion’s fate is in your hands as you set off to uncover the evil that threatens the land, but as the successor to vast and mysterious powers through the magic of Kinect, your journey will allow you to master the art of growing magic that will help eventually shape the future of Albion.
How exciting does that sound?
To start with, it just wouldn’t be right not to mention the ease of use of the Kinect menu controls. So many different Kinect games all try to have their own unique style of how you point and make your choices – and we’re pleased to say that Fable the Journey has one of the better styles of just holding and raising your hand. No punching, swiping or poking which is great as there is nothing worse than spending about 10 minutes trying to point out what option you want before you can even play a game as experienced in the past. Once you have watched the short clip on how to position yourself correctly, the game is all yours…
Once you’ve entered your mind and body into the land of Albion you start your journey through calling over a horse called Seren and grooming it, rubbing and gently caressing the head and neck as you show the poor thing that you are someone to be trusted – before you use it as a means of transport through pretty much half of the entire story. If only the horse had ran away, it would have saved its legs the miles of trekking as you giddy-up over the vast green lands. Now, words cannot do justice over the experience of being seated on your sofa (yes this is a Kinect game where you sit!) and taking the reigns of a horse. Try if you can to imagine this – not Gangnam Style, but you use both arms to crack the reins as Seren trots whilst you spend some considerable time looking at its back-end. Don’t worry too much about getting it right initially as the game does provide a lot of training interruptions via the means of mini-lessons which through-out the beginning of your journey appears as pop-ups on screen until you’ve mastered how to control your horse, and magic accordingly and appropriately. Believe it or not you can injure your horse and you will not get very far without it!
If you are a hardcore Fable RPG fan, then it might disappoint you that Fable the Journey is a very linear game. It’s a foregone conclusion where you must follow the set path and route on your journey, but the entertainment comes from the experience of the game. Using your hands to cast spells, riding your horse, creating weapons with the power of magic and shaping your journey, tailoring your choices to your experience even if the game is a predetermined linear route is what makes this game so much fun.
The story itself is based 50 years after the events of Fable III and you take on the role of Gabriel, a young man who has been separated from his tribe. So, you might have guessed that your journey is to take the long old route back home. On his homeward bound journey you meet (drumroll) Theresa, who has been wounded by a powerful darkness called The Corruption. Theresa is a reoccurring role in all of the Fable games so if you’re a fan of the franchise it’s more than likely you’ve heard of her before, but in Fable the Journey, when you meet her it is discovered that her injuries from The Corruption has caused a loss of magical powers. Together with Gabriel you learn that The Corruption is on a mission to take over Albion, and you must both visit a place called the Tattered Spire to restore her powers immediately.
A very large part of your journey is by steering your horse to get to the locations, so it must be said that you really have to learn to master and enjoy the technique with controlling Seren otherwise your journey is doomed. Also, treat the horse how you would want to be treated as a horse yourself – as funny as that sounds, but your horses health can deteriorate very quickly if you’re riding her fast over rocky roads or pushing her to the max. Let’s just say she’s not all that young, but still a few years left in the old girl yet, be kind to her – you need her! Additionally, casting your spells also requires certain hand gestures to be learned and we’re pleased to say that it all feels very natural and again responsive when the action is required of you.
It is a pleasure to play a Kinect game such as Fable the Journey where the controls are very responsive. Not only are you seated, which is a joy in itself – the game fully understands what you’re trying to do and responds as it should. However that totally annoying “Feeling tired or Sore, take a break” message pops up on screen every so often as it does in all other Kinect games, but Fable the Journey is the least likely game to give you a heart attack!
Visually as you would expect being a Fable game, the mystical and magical surroundings are beautifully displayed in crisp clear detail. For a Kinect title it’s very graphical and the many cut-scenes between locations are well presented to continue each part of the journey informatively. The game is expected to last over 10 hours and could possibly be the longest Kinect only game to date so far – so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
If you want to take a well earned break from all that dancing around and exercise with your Kinect and experience a story that will have you casting spells far better than Harry Potter – then Fable the Journey is a game to own. It might not be as action packed as Kinect Star Wars, but it is a journey worth taking.
A game for all Kinect owners everywhere.