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.

Product Review

‘Resident Evil 2' is a terrifying new virus you'll want to catch

Resident Evil 2 brings the Raccoon City incident to a new generation of players, acting both as a nostalgic throwback and a thoroughly modern horror game with some of the best visuals of the generation.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Gaming

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Gaming

Overkill’s ‘The Walking Dead’ delayed indefinitely for PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Overkill's The Walking Dead for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been postponed without a new release date. The co-op zombie shooter suffered massive delays, then received lukewarm reviews once it launched for the PC through Steam.
Gaming

How you can give your PS4 a fresh start with a factory reset

Learn the many ways you can factory reset your PS4. From reverting your settings to factory to doing a full wipe and reinstalling the latest PlayStation firmware, we cover it all here, step by step.
Product Review

The Digital Storm Aventum X is an unstoppable gaming PC. Trust us, we tried

Packed with dual-Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and a 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, the Aventum X is an infinitely upgradeable gaming PC that’s capable of far more performance than you’ll ever need.
Gaming

Can't stand keyboard gaming on PC? Here's how to use a PS3 controller instead

Properly connecting a PlayStation 3 Controller to a PC is no easy task, especially when you opt for third-party peripherals. Thankfully, our guide will help you through the process.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ update makes you the most dangerous snowman ever

The latest content update for Epic Games' Fortnite adds the Sneaky Snowman item, turning players into stealthy masters of disguise. The update also changes the Sniper Shootout game mode.
Gaming

Having issues with your PS4? Check out our solutions to its most common problems

Just because the PlayStation 4 is a remarkable system doesn't mean that it's immune to the occasional hiccup. Thankfully, we've vetted some of the bigger PS4 problems and found solutions for whatever might ail you.
Gaming

‘Resident Evil 2’ will get free mode called ‘The Ghost Survivors’

Resident Evil 2 will be getting a free post-launch DLC mode which will feature characters not playable in the game's main campaign. No release date has been given for the new mode.
Gaming

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC
Gaming

Have a problem with your Xbox One X? We have the solution

The Xbox One X is a brilliant console, but it's not without its issues, ranging from simple annoyances to severe hardware problems. Here are common Xbox One X problems and how to fix them.
Product Review

Raw and brutal, ‘Dead Cells’ will pummel you, and you'll like it

Dead Cells is an indie game that blends elements from roguelite and Metroidvania genres to bring fast-paced combat pace, a complex progression system, and gameplay with plenty of secrets to uncover.