In the decoded classics section of my blog, I cover the Xbox classics, the games that were awarded platinum sellers and are widely accepted as some of the best games of their generation. In this article, I’m covering the RPG of my childhood, the original Fable. Yes, I know it’s a really old game and it could fit into the decoded originals section that will be appearing soon, but it’s such a great game I had to put it in the classics section and it’s relevant to the upcoming releases of Fable Legends and the remake of Fable: The Lost Chapters, Fable Anniversary. Fable: The Lost Chapters was released in September 2005 (seems ages ago now) made by Lionhead Studios and designed by Peter Monlyneux; an expansion on the already released Fable, that added new weapons, spells based on your morality and whole new places to explore, along with a patch to the profound dig glitch where the player could move backwards into walls.
The Fable series is set in a place called Albion, where you play the unsuspecting Hero of Oakvale, a young boy trying to scrounge enough money for a present for his sister on her birthday. Suddenly, the small town is pillaged and raided by bandits, and after secluding himself in a bush, the Hero of Oakvale is saved, just as a bandits sword is about to plummet into him, by a mage known by the name of Maze who also just so happens to be the head of the Heroes Guild. From here, the boys’ story begins as you aspire to become the greatest hero of Albion. There are countless quests to be solved, hundreds of areas to explore and masses of bandits to be slaughter on your road to revenge. But said road is not easy, as there are other heroes out to get you, boss fights that will leave you on your last strings of heath, or will you give in to your evil side and join the enemies you once fought? A lot of Fable is about the choices you make, but I will touch on that later in the article, but the gameplay is also a massive factor in this expansive open world game.
The training you go through, which is basically the tutorial, in the Heroes Guild introduces you to the ideology of combat, the use of swords, bows and magic. Although the combinations are quite advanced in terms of the time it was released, the mashing of the X button is extremely easy to get into and a lot of the evil alignment spells are ridiculously overpowered, leading to a pretty easy path to 100% story completion. But, if you want to push past the annoying combinations of buttons to draw weapons or to switch to magic, you can find yourself hitting some pretty hefty combinations to defeat an earth giant. Although the ranged and melee weapons are interesting and you can apply certain augmentations to make them strike with fire or electricity, it’s the magic that really stands out in this game. It introduced some of the most interesting types of magic that an RPG had ever had, spells such as being able to slow time, heal, summon monsters, shoot fireballs or electricity or ice and even to summon devils’ or angels’ powers to destroy your foes, and all with the pull of a trigger and then the push of a button. Of course these came at a cost, as you had to either spend magic experience or general experience to upgrade or buy new spells, the same goes for upgrades in strength, health, speed and stealth, which just adds more customisation to the game.
Alas, fighting monsters is not for the feint hearted, and if you feel like chilling in the local towns and getting drunk in the tavern, or maybe you want to become a trader and go from city to city hunting down those wanted items from the local blacksmith or general store, or perhaps you like the quite life and want to buy a cottage in the woods, marry and live a happy life then you can do whatever. Of course some of these ideas are flawed, for example you can buy out a store of all its produce and then sell it back to them for a profit, in real life destroying the economy, or you could completely bypass the buying stage and steal from the stores, becoming slowly more evil as everyone knows theft is the gateway drug for most criminals. You could blow all your money gambling in the taverns on blackjack or even take part in a chicken kicking contest, the choice is all yours, which is what I love about this game, it gives you a massive amount of choice in your decisions.
When they announced the game, Monlyneux said that the focal point of the game was that it gave you choice, and at the time he was correct. Fable does give you choice, it gives you choice between morality, choice in freedom and choice storyline. It lets you decide whether you think it would be a good idea to go around punching all the citizens of Bowerstone, or if you should help them out with the local bandit problem. These morality choices have an effect on everything that happens to you later in game, for example, should you choose the demonic option, your appearance will gradually shade to a pale white, you sprout horns, your eyes turn red and for some reason, all the villagers run away from you on sight. Whereas if you were to choose the path of the righteous, you become this Leonardo DiCaprio-esque protagonist with luscious, flowing blonde hair and suddenly ever woman, man and chicken in the town just can’t get enough of you. There are also morality based spells as I mentioned before, the evil ones being a little bit too powerful, but it comes at the cost of annoyingly repetitive guards always hassling you, who for some reason all have the same voice; and the good ones allowing you to heal yourself, but at the cost of ultimate power, sound familiar? Other choices, which are a lot more prominent in the sequels, are the story choices, you could decide to join the evil side and completely screw up the entire story plot, which can be done quite early on in the game. Whichever path you choose, the girl you meet near the beginning called Whisper, she will take the path you chose not to, allowing you to see what you could have missed out on. But, these choices are merely the difference between Pepsi and Coke with today’s games, as games like Fallout and Mass Effect which gives you an unlimited amount of choice as to what you can do, and a lot of the time you can actually feel restricted, so keep in mind that the game was released for the original Xbox in 2005.
Forsooth, fair traveller, we have come to the end of this long and windy article, I wonder which path you chose at the end of it? Maybe you chose to be kind and gracious and have already driven off to buy a batch of Fables for all your friends, or maybe you have chosen the path of the wicked one and have stolen a bunch of copies from your local store and then sold them on the black market or burnt them in front of fans. Either way, Fable is a safe buy if you like open world RPG with lots of choice, monsters to slay and different ways to play the game, see you in Albion soon Hero of Oakvale.