Smooth Moves: Fable: The Journey preview

fable kinect

I’ll give you the same disclosure I gave Fable: The Journey creative director Gary Carr: I have never played a full Kinect game. I messed around with the early Project Natal demos back in 2009, but an actual, finished Kinect game? Never done it. I tell you this so you know that I went into my demo of Fable: The Journey last week with no expectations whatsoever.

Was I skeptical that an adventure game like Fable was suited to hands-free motion control and guided levels rather than free-roaming exploration? Definitely. Am I still skeptical? Sure. Is The Journey entertaining even in just a quick demo? Absolutely.

To catch you up, The Journey picks up 50 years after Fable III. Despite your revolutionary efforts in that game, Albion looks just as medieval and goblin-infested (or hob-infested as the case may be). This time around you play as Gabriel, one of the Dwellers, Albion’s fantasy version of the Romani people. Since he’s a fantasy gypsy, Gabriel doesn’t have the inherent magical skills that the fated heroes of past Fable games do. After getting separated from his family and swept up in immortal sorceress Theresa’s goings on, Gabriel receives a pair of magic gloves that let him toss all kinds of magic.

smooth moves fable the journey preview 2

A swift tutorial through an ice and crystal covered cave introduces you to Gabe’s powers. It works like this: Raising your right hand and pushing forward will toss an energy ball. If you flick your right hand after throwing it, the ball will automatically whiplash and hit the nearest enemy. If you hold your right hand in place waving it back and forth, your energy ball becomes a much stronger fireball. Holding your right hand at your shoulder still will conjure an even more powerful spear to throw.

Raising your left hand and pushing will let you Obi Wan Kenobi it up and force push bad guys away. Holding your left arm out connects a magical tether to enemies letting you toss them around. This brings some nuance into fights. When you’re fighting against a bunch of skeleton warriors, the quickest route to victory is tethering them and popping off their limbs one by one. You can also block by holding your left arm up in front of you, natural as a shield. Dodging is just a matter of leaning right and left.

smooth moves fable the journey preview 3

If that sounds like a lot to remember, it is, especially when a large group of enemies is bearing down on you. The Journey is best described as a cross between an old-fashioned lightgun game like Virtua Cop and a fighting game like Street Fighter. You have to pay attention to the environment directly in front of you while assessing what of your limited moves will best help you overcome your enemies. Both those styles of games require precision and quick decision making though.

Lionshead’s game impressively allows for both. When the moves didn’t work in the game it was almost always because I was rushing and not being specific with my motions. The Journey also allows for decent improvisation. The second level I played through was a mine where an enormous rock monster boss was waiting at the end. As you fought him, deflecting back giant rocks and tossing fire, skeletons would pop and advance. What do you do? Should I dodge to the far right and focus on the boss, or can I move fast enough to dismember these undead goons while also tossing boulders back at the boss? This sort of blend of physical challenge with classic video game problem solving delivers on that early promise of the Kinect.

At least in this sliver of the game. Carr told me during our demo that the game is 10 to 15 hours long. I played for a mere 20 minutes. The on-rails lightgun shooters and fighting games I compared The Journey to are brief games, played in short burst sessions, but Lionhead wants this to be a lengthy, deep adventure. It’s impossible to say how it stacks up in that regard based on this sample.

Is it funny like Fable? Couldn’t tell you. How’s the art? All I saw was a mine and a magic ice cavern. Throw in a forest and it would be every fantasy game ever. Does the action continue evolving or is it just a game of push and pull for 20 hours? Carr promised exploration areas but none were demoed.

Fable: The Journey was an impressive first experience with a complete Kinect game, but it has many questions to answer before it releases in October.


Seven years later, ‘Dark Souls’ is still a gloriously punishing masterpiece

Despite my experience and love of From Software’s Dark Souls III and Bloodborne, I never played the original Dark Souls. The new remastered version gave me a chance to remedy that, and it was glorious.

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

Here's our Champion's guide to picking the best character in Apex Legends

Apex Legends' use of heroes with different abilities helps separate it from other battle royale games. To help you choose your legend, we've put together a legend guide detailing their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for March 2019

Looking to score Nintendo's latest console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on bundles that feature must-have games like Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Zelda: Breath of…

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit has a ton of games you can play with starting April 12

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit has a plethora of games to play after you're done building the Toy-Cons. From an on-rails alien shooter to a deep sea photography adventure, here's what you can play with Labo: VR Kit. You can even make your own games.

How to break Posture and deal a Shinobi Deathblow in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an incredibly difficult game, and managing the Posture system is a key part of improving and tackling the latest From Software title's most challenging sections.

Here's what we know about the Dark Souls developer's next game

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the latest game from Dark Souls and Bloodborne developer From Software. Here is everything we know about the new game, including its setting and combat changes.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

Here's a look at how the Epic Games Store is sizing up to the competition

The Epic Games Store has picked up exclusives left and right since its launch last December. From AAA games like The Division 2 to wonderful indies like Hades, the Epic Games store has an impressive library of exclusives.

Get Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for free when buying an Xbox One

You can get Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for free when buying an Xbox One from Newegg. Eight different bundles are available for this deal, so you can walk away with Sekiro and another game such as The Division 2 or Anthem.

Master Shinobi combat with our Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice beginner's guide

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is one of the hardest games of the generation, and it can be overwhelming, even for those who have played From Software's other games. Here is what you need to know to get started.

World of Warcraft's allied races will make you want to start a new character

The Horde and Alliance are seeking new allies in their struggle for control of Azeroth. Whether you pledge your allegiance to the Horde or Alliance, we've got a guide to help you unlock every allied race that's coming in Battle for Azeroth.