Why? Well…it just is.
Hey I don’t question when marketing teams tell me what something is. Usually. Alright maybe I do.
Fable: The Journey is one of those games nobody wants to talk about. I think in a weird way many of us want to pretend like Fable is still a thing. But we probably need to realize at this point that while it is a thing, its not the thing we want it to be. Its something else. Fable: The Journey is nothing more than an on-rails shooter with magic powers and a Kinect interface. Yet the marketing team at Microsoft really wants us to believe that its something much more than that. That its core. Core right down to its core. So core you couldn’t believe its core.
Originally Fable was going to be this game where you started as an 18-year-old hero and worked your way through the countryside doing good or bad deeds, proving your worth. You would age slowly and by the end of the game you’d be this 60-year-old man who had a lifetime of accomplishments and lots of battle-scars to show for it. The concept sounded incredible. Just like, well, just like most of Peter Molyneux’s game treatments.
And as we all know Fable turned out to be a pretty decent RPG and nothing more. None of that lifetime stuff or anything, just a neat story where you started as a boy and grew to a man and the timeline of the story otherwise worked like a normal RPG. Fable 2 was pretty much on the same line, but with a way more streamlined gameplay concept. Mana was gone and experience was turned into those weird little orbs. Fable 3 sounded like it would be some grand empire-building game, but turned out to be Fable 2 with an interesting endgame that lasted for about 20 minutes.
What it all amounts to is a series that is still looking to live up to its own potential. We all know it has this potential, but it just can’t ever seem to get there. Only if we added the ability to buy houses or inns, or the ability to make royal decrees, yes then it would be just a little bit closer to what Fable was going to be all about. But no, it never happened. And with Peter Molyneux gone I don’t think it ever will happen at this point. Fable is what it is and nothing more, just like its first game.
So Lionhead and Microsoft have decided that its time to cash in. No more of this unused potential crap. Let’s just take the Fable name and make a damn game already! Hey, the Kinect needs some more games to use it on, I don’t think Star Wars Kinect really Kinected with enough people, let’s do something there, yea that sounds great. Oh Peter just left, ok well whatever let’s make it anyway. Hey most people think the Kinect is stupid and not hardcore. Marketing? Could you do something about that? How about you make a video with a bunch of random people saying how “core” the game is.
And now we have…something. Is this even Fable anymore? What the hell am I watching? Oh right, its core.
“If you play a lot of Mass Effect, Halo, Gears of War, Skyrim, Fable…Yea I have a problem.”
-Random dude in a Batman t-shirt
Wait, I don’t even know if that’s a sentence. Why did you put that in the video? Why is the music so damn loud??
OK, here’s a live preview at E3. I don’t ask you watch the whole thing, but in the first couple of minutes you can definitely get a feel for just how “core” this game is. Constantly reaching out to fruitlessly throw lightning bolts. One of the developers (or marketing people, who knows) mentions that casting spells are “things that are difficult with the controller.” Which comes off more as “stuff you could do more easily with a controller, but doesn’t feel as core,” at least if you ask me.
I hope you’ll excuse me for saying that this is not “”core”". Yea, I put double double quotation marks around that because that’s how silly it sounds to say it so much. Core, core, core. What the hell does that even mean? Look we all know what core means, but when you start talking about it in the context of Fable: The Journey, nay, insist on using it then the word basically loses all meaning.
Fable: The Journey doesn’t even want to be a core game. It wants to be an easily-accessible casual game. It wants to be fun. I don’t see a problem with any of that. Just keep it as some fun Kinect game. Just stop using the word “core” already! Its meant for the people who bought Star Wars Kinect in droves, not for “core” gamers who want a deep RPG experience. Its obvious that you’re circumventing all of this to make a fun and accessible version of Fable. Don’t mention “holding a beer in one hand” just because you think that’s what the “core” audience does. The core audience are the fans who have inexplicably stuck with Fable up to this point, not the people who will be playing Fable: The Journey.
And that’s the crux of the issue I’m talking about here. Although Fable still hasn’t lived up to its huge potential to be some groundbreaking RPG experience, people still enjoy the hell out of it. It didn’t seem to take too long to craft Fable 3 using the work already done in Fable 2, so I’m not too certain why they decided to take this segue to another genre. Microsoft and Lionhead sans Molyneux need to realize that the core audience for this game wants absolutely nothing to do with The Journey.