Most Kinect games tend to look and feel on the budget side as, well, they are budget games. Not this one though – rather than use the same engine as Fable III it has been built from the ground up for Kinect. Voice-acting impresses and it’s clear that a great deal of polish has been applied. Even the tutorial video at the start is well made, featuring Hobbes causing mischief in somebody’s living room.
View from a first person perspective, Fable: The Journey tells the tale of unlikely hero Gabriel whose adventure begins after gaining a pair of magical gauntlets. The right gauntlet throws projectiles while the left is used to grab and pull objects. It can also be used to pull the limbs off Hollow Men. Their heads detach from their shoulders with a most satisfying ‘popping’ sound.
The interactive tutorial lets you get to grips with the controls by smashing up some stone statues and a short section entailing strafing left and right out harm’s way. It’s not long until a few extra powers are gained and it’s at this point it comes evident that the controls have had a lot of thought put into them.
Shaking your hand will turn a regular bolt projectile into a fireball, but you can also yell “fireball” into the Kinect mic to transform it in an instant. The same goes for the magic shards that can later be thrown, which otherwise require you to perform a spear-throwing gesture.
Menus too can be navigated either with gestures or voice activation. The motion controls work brilliantly, although we do get the feeling that the incredibly generous auto-aiming that goes on behind the scenes has something to do with that. Incidentally, this is one of the few Kinect games that can be fully played while sitting down. The only bad thing we encountered is that it’s quite hard to tell when countering attacks if you’ve been successful or not.
Regular bolts can be directed while in the air with an after-touch. It’s tricky to do this perfectly every time but that’s not a bad thing – they’re part of gaining an extra style bonus. XP is used to unlock new skills from a menu that’s available at any time.
Visually it looks how you’d expect a 360 game to look this late in the console’s life – full of detail and flare. The Hollow Men have never looked more… hollowed.
The demo ends with a boss battle against a large troll who can summon spiders and other creatures. His attacks have to be dodged by leaning left and right, until eventually he’s weakened enough to bring a large blade crushing down on his stony head.
The menu lists an arcade mode and a gallery to view any collectables you’ve found. There are tie-in features with Fable Heroes too, such as unlockable characters and the chance to boost your gold supply.
We enjoyed what we played – it’s far less frustrating than Sega’s Rise of Nightmares and more involving than The Gunstringer. The best core game yet? We’re confident that it will be.