An Unwanted Return to Albion

Although Fable has always been a franchise that stayed true to some very traditional RPG tenets, it’s unique story, creatures, customization, and choices has made it beloved by gamers everywhere. So, when Fable Heroes was announced as a side-scrolling beat ‘em up based on the popular action/adventure RPG series, I admit my curiosity was piqued. But, unfortunately, like many games that stray too far from the formula that works for them, like a toddler teetering away from its protective mother’s grasp with those first exploratory and cautious steps, Fable Heroes falls flat on its face. In fact, it’s so far from Fable that you wonder if this wasn’t some other game that simply had an Albion shade of paint thrown on it in the hopes of capitalizing on the strength of Lionhead’s premiere product.

Fable Heroes allows you to choose from several puppets designed after the series’ most beloved characters like Hammer, Maze, Garth, Reaver, or the Hero him/herself. You then side-scroll through familiar haunts in the Fable universe like Bowerstone or Mistpeak and take on familiar foes like Balverines, Trolls, and Hobbes, as you look to collect gold for a game within a game. You see, Fable Heroes is almost set-up like a Mario Party board where you collect gold in each level, do a handful of simple mini-games or boss fights, and roll dice for the opportunity to upgrade your characters, which then allows you to collect more gold. The end only comes after conquering each area of Albion and players are then awarded first through fourth place, as the game offers both local and online 4-player co-op, depending on much gold they collected in each level.

This additional twist to the side-scrolling beat ‘em up action does offer at least a small reward at the end of day, but it all just feels disjointed and definitely not something that long time Fable fans should respond to. The limited amount of action is dull and repetitive and with even less options for combat than traditional Fable games, I don’t see how anyone could play this for long stretches of time. The art style for the game is a definite plus though as recognizing iconic Fable locations and enemies in the child-oriented, but very vibrant and original, puppet style of the game is cute and the music stays true to the series.

At the end of the day, this isn’t even a passable side-scrolling beat ‘em up though. The ESRB rating may be E10+ (everyone 10 and older), but 10 seems to be the age limit instead for the game as this is definitely geared towards younger gamers. And they probably won’t enjoy it either because with no story told in this game (it relies on you having played the previous Fable titles) it just seems like a bunch of random set pieces mashed together with a fancy paint job. No matter if you are a fan of the franchise or not, I highly recommend that you steer clear of Fable Heroes.

SUMMARY:  Beyond the creative art style’s unique take on Fable III’s Albion and seeing everyone’s favorite characters return in puppet form, the downright boring and uninspired game play keeps this from being worth anyone’s time.

  • THE GOOD: Vibrant, unique art style
  • THE BAD: Uninspired game play
  • THE UGLY: Still dressing up like a Hobbe

SCORE: 3.0

Fable Heroes is an XBLA (Xbox 360) exclusive.