About this game
Original Fable Review
You play a young man called Quickthorpe who has been ordered by his village elder to seek out four evil guardians and steal the precious jewels that they guard. All Quickthorpe knows at first is that this is crucial to help his village and the world at large. (The player has an advantage over Quickthorpe as there is a video to explain the history of Balkhane available from the start up screen.) As you progress you will understand that some powerful aliens long ago ruled on the planet of Balkhane but angered by treachery of the humans, caused this world to split into four. You start out in the Frozen Lands, then visit the swampy Land of the Mists, the underwater Engulfed Fortress and the underworld of lava called the Land of Shadows.
You take control of Quickthorpe as at the village gates as he is being sent on his way by the village elder. Quickthorpe is displayed on screen, so you have a third person perspective.Fable is very reminiscent of Sierra‘s Kings Quest series. I think of it as cross between the look and feel of King’s Quest VI andVII.
Fable is a completely linear game. You can not progress unless you complete your tasks in one place. However it is possible to miss picking up items you need later in the game. Hence it is possible to get back to a limited extent. Because of the limitation of linearity the puzzles are quite easy to solve. You can not die inFable, just get stuck. But you shouldn’t be stuck for long! The game can be played in a couple of evenings.
The scenes are full-screen, complex colourful cartoons. Quickthorpe meets many NPCs who are animated well. All the locations and characters are portrayed with a high quality consistency helping establish the lighthearted mood of this game.
Some pleasant music is played during start up but there is no music during play. The sound effects and vocals seemed sufficient, but I think I would have appreciated some incidental music while playing. The sound effects again fitted with the light hearted cartoon atmosphere as did some of the side remarks. In fact some of these comments were a bit off-colour. All dialogue displayed as text and/or speech could be turned on or off. Most actors had British accents and their style was consistent withFable‘s atmosphere. Quickthorpe actually has an immature ‘out-loud’ voice and a mature voice for his thoughts. This was a bit weird at first.
The user interface is cleverly implemented and I’m sure in the design plans it looked innovative and a good solution. But I found the user interface rather awkward. Moving around was straightforward, but performing actions requires toggling the mouse pointer until you get the action you want. The cursor is represented as an icon of the action available. So this changes each time you click. I found getting the correct pointer tricky. The other problem is in controlling the inventory. The inventory is displayed in a window which floats on top of the display screen. It is often in the way, at the same time as you need it! Also scrolling the inventory is difficult when you are holding an item.
System options are made available by clicking the “operate” cursor on Quickthorpe or by hitting ENTER on the keyboard. This is a complete set of features and very easy to use. There are On/Off switches for dialogue display, speech and sound effects.
The save filenames are restricted to ten characters, which is adequate but I found a bit strange. There is a thumbnail associated with each save game, so I was never confused. There are eight save game slots. This is enough but again I wondered why the designers had restricted it so much.
Installation & Performance
I initially installed the Windows 95 version. But the sound did not work. So I installed the DOS version instead and after manually setting up the sound card options, it worked fine. There are three installation sizes available: 2Mb, 7 Mb and 30 Mb. I installed the maximum and found the performance fine.
I actually consider the user interface a bit buggy, but this is really poor design. I did have one crash about a third of the way though. On the whole this is a solid game, and there is no need to save frequently.
The compact manual contains everything you need to know to install and run Fable. It is well written with plenty of monochrome screen captures to illustrate the user interface.
Fable‘s end was changed after previewers complained loudly. Is this ending better? Yes. Is it good? Well, it’s OK. But I am going to have to say the same as always. The closing sequences weren’t long enough or thought out well enough. Of course, Quickthorpe succeeds and the four worlds are supposed to be integrated. So why when he returns home (presumably a journey of a few hours at least), why hasn’t the landscape and weather changed? Why aren’t there crowds of people and animals celebrating or perhaps confused about what has happened? Oh well, in a fantasy I suppose the life-forms don’t necessarily act like we do!
Fable is a nice little game. Had it come out at the time of Kings Quest V or VI, I think it would have been a great success. Graphically it is an excellent version of what it is: a cartoon fantasy adventure. The user interface is clever, but it needs some cleaning up. The puzzles are fairly easy as you are restricted from progressing until you have resolved the current puzzle. The sound effects and speech are fine but I did miss having background music. I was also slightly disturbed by playing a game that seemed suitable for children which occasionally mentions heterosexual and homosexual taboos. I am not being prudish so much as feeling it was out of context. The rating on the box is “teen”, ages 13+. Do I recommend this game? When there are few good adventure games on the market Fable is worth picking up. Otherwise I would suggest fantasy adventure fans look for this in the bargain bins.