Lionheadís role-playing classic is equally as endearing as it was a decade ago. Fable: Anniversary
has aged remarkably well overall, and while its adults-only rating might discourage younger gamers from giving it a go, itís still as much an accessible game for all ages as it was those many years ago.
What stands out most in this remastering is how influential the Fable
series has been on a thriving action-RPG genre. Its charm, silly humour and accessibility pave the way for a good-or-evil paradigm that has helped define the genre across a magnitude of different games and two console generations.
Itís undeniably a better-looking game than it was in 2004 - thatís a given - and the visual improvements certainly help make it feel that little bit more ďaliveĒ, not that the original adventure didnít already have a wonderful sense of community. Interaction is refreshing, although hardly revolutionary, but either impressing or disgusting fellow townsfolk through your actions makes for some lively and memorable moments in an ageless and charming adventure.
If youíre not familiar with that first game or the Fable
series in general, you may have seen elements of its DNA in games like Mass Effect
. It, along with another classic like Jade Empire
, helped define the Xbox brand with a wonderful blend of simple mechanics and satisfying elements of interaction. Fable
had a fascinating and alive game world in 2004, and itís just that little bit more inviting in 2014.
What separates Fable
the most from others in the genre is its distinctive focus on the act
rather than the speech: the game world judges you on the merits of your actions, which, as in real life, help shape perceptions of your character. Itís not a particularly deep system -- the Fable
series never has been -- but it flips an emotional switch in either direction that firmly embeds it in its own RPG standards.
All the typical RPG elements are there: saying and doing evil things will lead to people treating you aggressively, or ignoring you all together, while doing enough of the good thing will eventually lead to a cheeky halo above your characterís head. The game challenges you early on with subtle reminders of the child characterís past, which can be surprisingly confronting, although Fable
ís cryptic sense of morality could easily go over younger gamersí heads. It set a standard for the good/evil alternatives we see so often in contemporary games, but few have actually evolved on what Fable
offered: it still feels like too
much of a straight line.
But it works with Fable
. It always did. Even now it keeps things grounded in its wonderful sense of charm and humour. Itís just a shame that the sense of exploration (or lack thereof) that hindered the original ten years ago still suffers for a disappointing sense of linearity and hallway syndrome. Still, I feel the small areas are welcoming and engaging enough to make up for this sense of restriction, and I can turn a blind eye considering itís a game that always held the small but influential actions of the character above any proposed sense of the realism the game world can offer.
game has ever been that
much of a challenge. I remember the original being popular among my friendsí younger siblings (Iím the youngest of three), and they always seemed most intrigued and challenged by the level of interaction between their character and those in the world, more so than the explorative restrictions or combat difficulty. The game can be rather ruthless if youíre slow on your feet during combat -- it seems to have an obsession with sleek animations for whenever your character is knocked down to the ground -- but overall itís a very easy game. Enemies seem to attack with no real sense of order or consistency, which can make life tough if youíre not conservative with your approach, but death is a rarity.
Rare because youíre always packing heat, be it in the form of magic potions or other weapons. The game invites you to mix and match your approaches, and it would be silly to stick to one style with such a wide variety on offer. Fable
always felt like a true fantasy simulation, where even the most sinister of characters in the world are no challenge for the power of your being. I guess thatís kind of the point.
is still the same inviting role-playing game it was in 2004. Itís easy from a combat perspective, but it was never about being the best warrior. Instead, the game wants you to build the personality and ideals befitting of a true hero, which makes it a particularly fitting game for a younger audience. Pity that in Australia it's R18+.