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

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.

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.

Hard-earned reward for risking your neck.

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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.

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.

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

By Tom Mc Shea