Fable: The Lost Chapter is an inspired experience that’s both unique and unforgettable.
In Fable: The Lost Chapters you assume the role of a protagonist who has to make some interesting choices before he can become a tremendously popular fantasy hero. Fable was originally released for the Xbox in 2004 and it quickly became one of the most highly anticipated titles of the console, mainly because it was Peter Molyneux’s latest title since Black & White, which was released in 2001. Like most Molyneux games, Fable allows you to be either good or evil, according to the deeds you perform. These actions affect your personality, your aspect, alignment, and also how other people react when they see you. These elements are extremely innovative and it’s surprising to see how your character changes according to his age or reputation. As a result of this, every playthrough can be completely different to the other and that’s what differentiates this game from other RPGs. Fable is an action adventure game that includes some minor role-playing elements, the combat is pretty basic and shallow and you run from one point to the other. But at the same time, when all these elements combine, the game is amazingly unique, as developers decided to take some interesting risks.
Fable: The Lost Chapters is a rereleased version of the original, and even though it looks and feels the same, it has some new content. This includes new monsters, quests, weapons, spells, towns, armor, items, building and expressions. You can now give objects to children, the story includes nine new areas to explore and there are sixteen new quests. Some of the secondary characters, like Briar Rose and Scythe are given more prominent roles and are included in some additional quests. Some voices were redone, like the one from the main rival, making him sound more realistic and demonic. In fact, most of the new content can be seen right after the finale of the original Fable, but now you are required to go to the Northern part to the continent to unravel some mysteries. The main story now includes new cutscenes, dialogues and places to explore. What’s really surprising is that instead of developing an expansion pack on its own, Lionhead developed the new content and included it as part of the original game, this is great, as it blends seamlessly and the result is amazingly good. Also, the main adventure is much longer now and all the additional side quests add more hours of gameplay. Though, the game is still on the short side it’s really great to see an expansion to the original game, and as a result, Fable now feels much more complete and consistent. Fortunately, the gameplay and overall features of the game translate very well to the PC, making it a very enjoyable experience.
The story starts when the main hero is a child, suddenly, his village, called Oakvale, is invaded by bandits during his sister’s birthday. The hero’s family disappears and he’s all alone in the small city. Then, a mysterious man called Maze appears, rescuing the child and allowing him to join the Guild of Heroes, a place where only a few people can train to become champions. During his teenage years the young man is trained with melee and ranged weapons, and also magic. Using these fighting techniques and styles is both fun and simple, but mastering them takes some time. There’s a lock on system which is really helpful when fighting a huge boss or many enemies at the same time, and you may also exchange weapons in the middle of fight, everything with the press of a button. Blocking is also a useful mechanic, not only because it’s helpful but because your enemies use it extremely well and you’ll need to position behind their backs or attack continuously to break their defenses. On the other hand, archery has other simple mechanics, so to attack an enemy the longer you hold the attack button, the more damage you’ll make. Archery isn’t really that useful, except during some particular boss fights, most of the time you’ll probably use other melee weapons.
The basic movements are quite intuitive and comfortable to use, especially if you use the third-person perspective, which is the default one. The main style of the game is really interesting, because there are several ways to complete a quest, this variety and sense of freedom is interesting and challenging at the same time. These moral decisions are presented early on in the game and are really well implemented; even though these are not tremendously difficult to take, it’s really nice to see what happens next or how other people will react when they see you approach them.
The use of magic is different to all the other powers in Fable. You’ll start the adventure with only one spell (lightning), but as soon as you earn hundreds of experience points you can use these to buy newer and more powerful spells or upgrade the ones you already learned. Magic can either be defensive or offensive, letting you do more damage, heal you, slow down time, summon a powerful creature and so on. Some spells can be extremely helpful during combat, the only issue is that they are really awkward to use, as you have to hold down shift at the same time you use the mousewheel to select the one you want. Of course, soon enough you’ll get used to this mechanic as spells make combat much, much easier.
The AI of most enemies is really good. When they attack in groups they try to surround you, they switch to more useful weapons quickly and some attack you from the back to make more damage. In fact, each enemy (or group of enemies) act differently and accordingly, so for example werewolves attack you and then jump to reappear from a more convenient spot, skeletons attack you from the ground when you don’t see them. Each of them has different tactics but you’ll soon find out what’s best to use against a particular type of foe. Fortunately, and as soon as you figure out the best strategy, combat feels less challenging and more rewarding. Additionally, as in most RPGs, you may use potions and other items. You’ll soon find out that having a good number of health potions is important to progress as they allow you to recover health almost instantly during the difficult battles. There are also items called “resurrection phials”, these restore all your health back in case you perish and even though finding some of them can be hard, they are worth it.
When you become and adult in the game, you can undertake various quests. Moving from childhood to adulthood takes an hour or so, and from then on finishing the main quest takes about twelve hours. Still, if you want to experience every single quest and secret included in the game (including the content of The Lost Chapters) you should dedicate around thirty hours or more. Even though there are many additional content and lasting value, most of it isn’t worth it.
Every time you complete a key part of the story, the game shows you a stylish sequence which shows you your progress through different paintings. The main story is really interesting and most of the secondary characters are really well developed. The hero remains silent throughout the game, but he’ll speak when you use some of the many expressions. Additionally, morality is a huge part of Fable and some of your actions will have an important impact not only in the plot, but also in the multiple endings. Most of them are really brief and only show you a little part of what happens after you take a final decision and once you finish you can still wonder around complete some side quests and even reverse your alignment.
Replayability would seem like an important part of Fable, mainly because you could take a completely different path than before, consequently seeing many different things and possibly a different ending than before. This isn’t entirely true, because once you finish the game and experience “your own” adventure, and after you spent hours developing your type of hero, taking your own decisions and doing everything again can be tedious and unnecessary.
It’s great to see how the hero develops as you play and make decisions. He gets older, his aspect changes, if he’s really good you’ll see a halo on his head, an aura and some shiny butterflies surrounding him. On the other hand, if he’s evil he’ll have horns and red malicious eyes. Even though this doesn’t have a clear impact on gameplay, the result is really impressive. You can also adorn your hero’s looks with various tattoos or hairstyles and the villagers will respond to you differently according to these aesthetic changes. The clothes you wear will have similar effects and the different visual changes look terrific.
Socializing is always an engaging experience, so for example if you’re good you’ll be able to use certain gestures or expressions and if you’re bad some other ones. A particular sense of humor maintains throughout the game and as a result, trying to socialize with other people can be extremely funny. In fact, there isn’t that much interaction with other people, but it’s good that you have the option to do it. Most cities are realistic enough, they have taverns where you can play card games, and you can get married and divorced. Your spouse reacts in a very amusing ways according to your actions, for example, every time you give flowers to an unknown girl she demands a ring, once they have a ring they want a house to move in with you, once they have a house they want you to be there more often, and so on. Furthermore, you can commit crimes in a city, you can kill villagers, you can shoplift, you can break doors and windows and if you do it guards will immediately attack you. Taking your time to explore these cities is extremely rewarding, because villagers will react in different ways according to what you do around them. By the end of the game you should have a lot of money and there are some exciting things you can do with it. For example you can buy a property, which you can upgrade many times until you get a beautiful marital home.
Some of the main quests are pretty standard, they involve rescuing people, going to dungeons to recover certain items, slay a monster that terrorizes people, etc. What’s nice is that most quests only take a few minutes to complete, as the hero can teleport from one place to another effortlessly. Also, a minimap shows you your next objective at all times, so even though this is an open world game you are not likely to get lost wondering where you should go next. Some quests include “Boasting”, these are small standard quests but they require you to take bigger risks, like finishing a quest naked or without taking any damage or something like that. Ultimately, accepting this is unnecessary as they may take longer than the other quests and are not worth the risk.
Every time you defeat an opponent your given experience points, which you can use to upgrade spells or other statistics like health, mana and more. This system adds more depth to the game making it more complex and entertaining. Every time that you want to spend your hard-earned points, a clear text explains what you’re doing, so you’ll never get lost adding points to an unnecessary skill or spell. The system works really well, but unfortunately it rewards players who have a tendency to distribute their points instead of specializing their characters. Eventually, you’ll probably have a hybrid character that is powerful like a warrior, casts many spells like a wizard and uses a bow like an archer. This is extremely useful, but not that effective.
From a more technical perspective Fable is amazing, the game looks really well and it includes some good graphical effects, like lighting, particles and colorful places. The whole world is fully animated and very detailed; there are some gloomy places like graveyards and some others like forests, swamps, caves and more. The characters look well and move as they should, and they provide this fantasy world with an extra sense of realism. There are some weather effects and day and night cycles. The spells that your character uses are terrific, so each one seems different to all the others. Seeing how your character slowly transforms into an angel or devil is a really fun and it represents a unique experience really proper of this game.
When you think about it Fable has many good elements, but when these combine the game becomes great. Some decisions are questionable though, for example the humorous moments mix with some serious ones, all places are connected through different maps and each time you want to move to a new area there’s a loading time screen.
The audio is one of Fable’s best parts, the orchestra pieces are superb and very pleasant to listen to. They never become repetitive and most of them are very suiting of what’s going on onscreen. The moods change according to the situations and you see how the music gently reflects this. The rest of the sound effects are amazing, for example if you’re in a forest you’ll hear birds humming, but if you’re in the graveyard or a prison you’ll hear terrifying screams. The voice acting is really high quality, all the actors are British and all the spoken dialogue is easily understandable, clear and rich.
In conclusion, Fable is more than seeing your character transform into a good or evil. It’s an engaging experience, it’s an inspired game that has some really unique and remarkable moments which are proper of the adventure you play and are hard to replicate in another one. But’s what’s best about The Lost Chapter is that, ultimately, this experience is both unique and unforgettable.