E3: Taking on Fable: The Journey

ON

Fable: The Journey is coming for the Kinect. Lionhead Studios is bringing you your favorite game in a brand new way. Best of all? You can sit while playing it. The developers even showed us how you can hold a beer and play. What else can you ask for, really? We got a chance to check out a demo of the game at E3 today. Here’s what we learned.

It’s 50 years after the events of the last game. All the heroes are gone from the world and new ones must be created. You play a Dweller. While driving through the forest with your horse and carriage, you encounter Theresa (from earlier games) who has been mortally wounded. It’s your job, even without hero in your blood, to save her and thus the world. The darkness is coming.

Before we get into game play, here are some things you need to know. This game is not on rails. It’s an open world. In fact, it’s 300 miles wide. Instead of a dog, you have a horse. Unlike earlier games, you really don’t have a choice between good and evil. It’s more of a choice between bad/good and good/good. So basically, you’re Han Solo or Luke Skywalker. (No, that didn’t come from the developer, but that’s certainly what it sounded like.) You can die in Fable again, an announcement that got applause. They will always make controller-based Fable games, but there is no switching back and forth here. They wanted to concentrate on doing a Kinect game really well. There is no inventory that isn’t related to magic. (More on that later.) The game will switch seamlessly between first and third person views when it seems best to do so. There will be off the horse travel, but there isn’t really news on that yet. There is no co-op here because, again, they wanted to do one thing really well. At some point they may allow you to import info from other Fable games, but at the moment, you can’t. Also, there isn’t a ton of customization here. You are a male character with specific stats.

The gameplay focuses around you and your horse. Very important in a world this size. You have to take care of your horse in the same way you took care of your dog. How you treat him will affect game play. What we saw first in the game was put together just for the demo. We had a first person view of a curving track. Occasionally part of things hanging from the wagon would come into view. To move your horse, you use your arms to flip the reins. You can also give voice commands like ‘whoa’ to make him go slower. The horse can fall off the cliff, so be careful around those turns! To power your magic, you can whip your hands up to pull life force from anything living. This is important. You can do this with one hand, allowing you to hold a beer in the other. This is very important.

The next stage was fighting the classic hobbes. Here you use magic. Orbs appear on the screen as you wave your hands around like Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. You can throw them at an opponent or build them up into fire balls with different motions. You can use your hands for a ”slow time” spell. Even cooler, you can use gestures to form them into things like spears and hit enemies with those. This is how you’ll get all the items like shields and fishing rods, that you’ll need in the game and there will be tutorials to give you instructions.

Now, I know it seems like a lot of caveats and changes, but gamers have been waiting for a Kinect game that was more than jumping up and down. And I cannot tell you how many people I heard complaining about wanting to sit on the couch will playing video games. What we saw of the game looked beautiful and far different from anything we’ve seen for the Kinect.

Fable: The Journey will be available for the Kinect in mid 2012.