Fable is a 3rd person RPG which was released for the original Xbox back in the distant past of 2004 after a few years of over-promising hype from the mega-mouthed Peter Molyneux. Molyneux promised “the best game ever” with a rich detailed world that would change and react to the actions of your character. Naturally he didn’t quite get there, but Fable was still a fun game introducing us to the fantasy world of Albion inhabited by characters and quests with a uniquely English sense of style and humor.
Ten years later Fable Anniversary has been released for PC promising “fully re-mastered HD visuals and audio,” so I decided to check it out and see if it lived up to my nostalgic memories of the original.
The first disappointment came at the start with a game menu which seems bizarrely unaware that PCs come equipped with mice. Even selecting mouse and keyboard as the main control scheme doesn’t let you use a mouse in the menu! The game plays better with a gamepad anyway, but just to add insult to injury the control scheme constantly reverts back to mouse and keyboard every time I load the game.
The next disappointment is the graphics which feel a little less than full re-mastered HD to me. They’re an improvement on the original Xbox but the textures are a little soft and fuzzy and some of the cutscenes don’t seem to have received any HD treatment at all. The graphics in general are highly reminiscent of the human areas of World of Warcraft with their low poly cartoony feel. They do the job but they’re not quite what I’d be expecting in 2014.
The first two sections of the game consist of an overlong and elaborate tutorial. I started as a small child doing minor quests in a village in order to get enough coins to buy my sister a birthday present. This was all very sweet and lovely and I was having a nice time running around, exploring the village, fighting off bullies and so on until bandits attacked. They set fire to the village, slaughtered nearly everyone including my father in front of me and dragged my sister and mother away to a fate possibly worse than death. This game has certainly taken a traumatic turn!
I was rescued by a mysterious figure who turned out to be the leader of the Guild of Heroes. He took me to the guild hall where I would be trained until I could seek vengeance. Two time jumps and a small amount of running around later I was trained in questing, melee, ranged and magic combat and was ready to venture out into the world where I could take on quests for both good and evil tasks.
One of the main aspects of the game is the way your character changes to reflect your actions. Becoming more muscular if you increase strength and do lots of melee combat, for instance, or starting to look darker and more evil if you do bad deeds. The people of Albion react to you based on your looks, your renown and your previous deeds. If you perform lots of heroic quests they cheer and applaud as you pass them by. If you decide to be a bad guy you may be booed and hissed at. Or you may, as I did, hear variations on the vile phrase “chicken chaser” everywhere you go. “He looks like a chicken chaser!” “Oi, chicken chaser!” “Do you chase chickens then, chicken chaser?”
I kicked one chicken. Once. When I was a small child back in my home village. A village that was burned to the ground and everyone was slaughtered. So how the hell does the entire world know about it? Who told them? Why? It was years ago, why do they care so much? If one more person calls me chicken chaser I swear I shall dedicate my life to bringing destruction to this land! I shall rain down fire and lightning and death across Albion till none remain alive to even think of calling me a chicken chaser!
Erm, sorry. To conclude: if you can resist the temptation to bring doom to everyone you may enjoy this game. It’s quirky at best and extremely odd at times but you can have a fun few hours stomping around Albion performing various fantasy trope quests while seeking your ultimate vengeance. Just don’t chase any chickens!