Fable Heroes Review [XBLA]

Fable fans will enjoy seeing familiar heroes from the series make a cute puppet return here, but the RPG elements have been swapped for simple hack and slash instead and whilst fun it's a little too repetitive to warrant several replays.

rating:3.5

It's been almost two years since Fable fans first got their taste of the series, when Fable III was released back in 2010 to pretty mixed reception. Whilst Fable: The Journey is currently in development for a Kinect release sometime next year, there has been no other title to fill the void in the meantime. So, Lionhead Studios have tried to compensate for that by releasing Fable Heroes, an Xbox Live Arcade game with hints of the series. But does it satisfy the cravings of those Fable hungry fans? Well, not exactly. Fable Heroes is quite a departure from the gameplay in the main series. Gone is the RPG quest elements from the main games, and in goes the simple, repetitive, tried and tested hack n' slash formula that so many Xbox Live Arcade titles have adopted before. Whilst this will disappoint fans hoping for a lighter version of the main game, it's still a cute, simple and fun co-op button basher. It just depends on if you're willing to go for that or not. Whilst the gameplay may appear to be a little weak for the most part, the same cannot be said for the games design. Familiar locations from the series are included in a cartoonish, cute style, whilst players will get to choose from one of the puppet versions of the heroes present in the past Fable games. The scenery, enemies and heroes are vibrant and colourful, and make this feel like a more childish version of the main games. As for the gameplay, as I stated before, it's rather repetitive. Players will hack their way through hordes of Fable enemies in familiar locations such as Bowerstone and Aurora, whilst grabbing all of the coins and items dropped by those you have slashed to death. Many gamers may despise the repetive nature of Fable Heroes, but I personally found it to be rather enjoyable when experienced with another player. Sometimes leaving your brain at the door for a bit of mindless co-op button bashing fun is good enough.

At the end of the level, each players coins are tallied up, with the victor being the one who collects the most coins. After this, we are moved off to a Monopoly style board game which acts as the unlocking/stat building screen. This is perhaps the most frustrating, long and boring section of the game. It seems quite novel at first, but unfortunately it takes so long to get all four players to traverse around the board (these puppets tend to walk like they're treading water for the most part), that you're left craving for action once again. A lot of the tiles on the board are only unlocked later in the game when you have completed more areas, so the beginning half is spent landing on locked tiles and being unable to do anything with your turn. This section would have worked a lot better if they had just allowed us to have a simple level up screen, where players can assign new weapons, attacks, and so on much more efficiently. Now the game is much more enjoyable with real players, rather than choosing the NPC companions. Unfortunately the NPC's bring on a lot of frustration. Whilst they were good at reducing the number of enemies on the field, the same cannot be said for sharing out collected items. For example, when dying was imminent, these NPC characters would not allow the players in dire need of health to pick up the hearts-they'll rush and grab it themselves before you get a chance to. The same could be said for coins or any power ups. Whilst the game does not fully reflect the gameplay in the main Fable series, it does help to remind fans of it from time to time. Whilst familiar enemies make regular appearances (I was pleased that Chesty turned up for one), Lionhead have also included the choices element so integral to the main games. Whilst it is not a big part of the gameplay here, Lionhead have allowed fans to choose from either good or evil chests, which will allow random players to suffer or be praised, depending on the chest openers decision. If you're the competitive sort, choosing the evil box can see your friend being punished for a short period, but as it's a random decision, there is always a chance that you could be bestowed with it instead (actually...it's quite a big chance. I seemed to suffer most of the time!). Overall, Fable Heroes is an enjoyable, light hearted hack and slash game, but it is hardly anything like the main Fable games. Fable fans expecting a mini version of Fable will be disappointed, as hardly anything from the series has been included here. RPG elements have been swapped with basic button bashing, and it all gets a little too repetitive for the most part. However, if all your after is a little bit of button bashing, multiplayer fun, than Fable Heroes is a cute, short but enjoyable romp. Fable Heroes is available to download now on XBox Live Arcade for 800 MS Points.
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Fashion Copywriter, Games writer for 8-Bit Girl & What Culture, and a freelance writer. Find me on Twitter: @8_BitGirl.