Fable: The Journey

 

Learning(i)

Fun fantasy actioner marred by troublesome motion controls.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Prevalent narrative themes include remaining hopeful in the face of despair, helping strangers in need, the willingness to sacrifice, and caring for animals. The game also involves mild violence, but it's a fantastical sort impossible to replicate in the real world.

Positive role models

The player's character is a young man reluctant to view himself as a hero. Yet he becomes one anyway, moved to help an old woman and other characters out of the goodness of his heart. He shows himself capable of love and great personal sacrifice. He frequently does battle, but only when attacked.

Ease of play

The game's Kinect motion controls are extremely intuitive -- onscreen cues and illustrations mean players always know what to do in any situation -- but also proved quite finicky in this evaluation, resulting in a fair bit of frustration. Standing up improves a player's control considerably, but isn't practical (the game was designed to be played over long stretches while sitting on the couch).

Violence

Players cast magical spells, including lightning bolts and fireballs, at fantastical creatures including trolls, balverines, hollow men, and hobbes. These creatures howl and fall to the ground when defeated. Some, such as the bug-like rock mites, bleed green blood. In one chapter, players see the ghosts of men stabbed repeatedly, though all that gushes out of their ethereal bodies is bright light. Players can also use magic to pop the heads and arms off of skeletal zombie enemies, with no blood or gore involved.

Sex

An enemy called "the temptress" is a giant monster with large, heaving breasts. The creature's skin color makes it difficult to tell whether she is wearing clothing.    

Language

Mild curses like "hell" pop up infrequently in voiced dialogue.

Consumerism

This game is the fifth game in the popular Fable franchise, and syncs with another -- Fable: Heroes -- to unlock specific bonuses.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character talks a lot about "ale" and is seen drinking from a beer stein.

Privacy & safety

Minor privacy and safety concerns. This game supports online leaderboards with friends' and strangers' names, but supplies no way to communicate with other players.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Fable: The Journey is an action adventure game that requires Microsoft's Kinect motion- and sound-sensing Kinect peripheral. Unlike other games in the Fable series, which are rated "M," this game is rated "T" because it lacks red blood effects, strong language, and the sexual overtones of its predecessors. It's suitable for a slightly younger audience starting around older tweens. Its fantasy violence is waged against a stable of decidedly non-human creatures, with the only gore taking the form of green blood that squishes out of large insects. There's also a female boss enemy with enormous, heaving breasts that may or may not be naked (her body's coloration makes it difficult to tell). Note, too, that there are some pretty mature narrative parts that see beloved characters perish and an old woman telling a story about a villain plucking her eyes out when she was a girl.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Hobbies

  • pets

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Responsibility & Ethics

  • integrity

Health & Fitness

  • body awareness
  • movement

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

The story is well crafted and compelling. Action sequences have a thrilling, frenetic quality. Sadly, though, the motion and voice controls are pretty loose and can prove frustrating.

Learning Approach

Empathy and responsibility are key themes players will experience within the narrative. Kids will also get to practice their puzzle solving skills from time to time and engage in a bit of healthy physical movement. 

Support

Instructions are provided as needed within the game. There's no official external support, though players may be able to find user-created tips and walkthroughs online.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Hobbies

  • pets

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Responsibility & Ethics

  • integrity

Health & Fitness

  • body awareness
  • movement

Kids can learn a bit about empathy and responsibility, practice their puzzle solving skills, and get in a bit of healthy physical movement in this story-driven game for Kinect. The game's tale features a protagonist faced with hard decisions who usually ends up doing what's right, even if it means great personal sacrifice. Some of the game's dungeons, meanwhile, put players' thinkers to the test with environmental puzzles that have them waving their arms to move objects and bypass obstacles. Fable: The Journey is meant to be an entertaining adventure, and it also makes players think while keeping them moving.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

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What's it about?

The first Fable game to earn a Teen instead of a Mature rating from the ESRB, FABLE: THE JOURNEY strays from its predecessors role-playing roots to offer a Kinect-oriented action/adventure experience with a strong, linear narrative. Players take control of Gabriel, a young traveler who encounters Theresa, the ancient seer from previous Fable games, being attacked by a dark cloud of corruption. He saves her, and is in turn taken under the woman's wing and bestowed magical powers so that he can take on a growing evil threatening the world of Albion. Players spend half their time in the driver's seat of a horse cart, pulling the reins left and right to steer Gabriel's faithful horse. The other half of the game is set on the ground, where Gabriel throws magical spells at attacking enemies and uses \"push\" magic to manipulate the environment and solve simple puzzles. A separate arcade mode allows players to retry many of the game's action sequences, attempting to post better scores.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Fable: The Journey is a deliberate attempt to deliver a Kinect experience that would appeal to so-called "core" gamers -- folks who tend to prefer traditional controller-based games. It succeeds in some ways. The story, for example, is well crafted and compelling. You'll care about the characters and their fates. Plus, the action sequences have a thrilling, frenetic quality typically lacking in simpler motion-control games. It can be an engaging experience when the game is firing on all cylinders.

Sadly, though, the motion and voice controls often don't meet core gamers' stiff demands. This is a game designed from the ground up to be playable from a sitting position (it's the sort of game best consumed in hour-plus sessions), yet we experienced frustrating problems with accuracy when spell-casting and proper movement detection when tending to the horse's reins. The result is a game that tends to become aggravating right at its most compelling moments. It may be worthwhile for Kinect devotees, but its intended audience of traditional gamers will likely be left cold.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about movement in games. Did this game make you feel like you were really driving a horse and cart? Or casting magic? What ways could motion control be used outside of games? Do you think it could help students learn, or workers practice doing dangerous tasks?

  • Families can also discuss violence in media. Do you put fantasy violence on the same level as gritty military violence? In what ways are the two different?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360
Price:$59.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Microsoft Studios
Release date:October 9, 2012
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Horses and farm animals
ESRB rating:T for Mild Blood, Mild Language, Violence (Xbox 360)

This review of Fable: The Journey was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 11 year old Written bymichelhays December 31, 2012
age 9+
 
LEARNING

Gender neutral fun; sensitive animal lovers may love the game but may struggle.

Both boys and girls, especially animal lovers, will enjoy this game (see below about sensitive animal lovers.) You spend a good deal of time interacting with the horse (more jaded players might be annoyed by this) and though the main character is a boy, he's following the direction and story of a woman. Even considering that you play the game sitting, it can be a real workout - I've been playing, myself, and am finding myself stiff and sore after a session of outrunning and outgunning Hobbes (little gnome-like creatures.) There is plenty of action, intrigue, and puzzles that prevent this game from becoming Kinectimals. The game does foster cooperation and caring; the hero reluctantly agrees to take on magic to save his horse, but decides to follow on with the quest after he sees how other people are affected by the evil he fights. Violence is fairly low-key (although the bugs do explode when they squish) but the "boss" creatures can be frightening. Most importantly, the horse takes the brunt of your mistakes, and you watch the horse die if you fail in a horse-cart-based challenge. In fact, the horse screaming in pain can be a serious issue if you have a sensitive child, although your character has the power to heal. Removing arrows and splinters from the horse, for instance, can take some perseverance and patience; you sometimes have to try several times, and the horse cries out when you fail. However, you do get time to "bond" with the horse; it heals completely and shows appreciation, and every time it "dies" you simply restart the level. Note: Glitchy controls can be addressed two ways: one, by recalibrating, and two, by sitting against a contrasting background (we drape a white sheet over the chair.)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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