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Fable Anniversary Review

Fable Anniversary

Developer: Lionhead Studios
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Released on Sep 12, 2014

Fable Anniversary is a fully-remastered rendition of Fable: The Lost Chapters using the Unreal engine, giving the original 2005 game a fresh new coat of paint. After 20 years, long-time Fable fans will once again, get to relive the birth of a legendary hero, in their own image. And his destiny will be carefully molded through the player’s actions: through committing a series of good or evil deeds.

Genre: A Single-Player Fantasy RPG

In the first Fable game, you are the hero of Oakvale–a boy whose father asked him to do good deeds around town, so he can buy his sister a box of chocolates for her birthday. Now you get to test the hero’s moral compass: Returning a stuffed teddy bear is a good deed, but destroying private property is an evil one.

The book saves your hero’s progress. Here he is taking a selfie against all odds.

Once upon a time, there lived a young lad in the peaceful town of Oakvale. Then, everything changed when the bandits attacked. Only the hero, master of all three attributes (Strength, Skill, and Will) could stop them. But without his powers, he was forced to watch in terror, as the bandits burned everything down.

We just became an orphan and we’re only an hour in. Damn, the poor kid.

In the blink of an eye, the villagers were slain, their houses looted of all possessions, and Oakvale was no more. The hero had lost everyone he loved; with his father dead and his sister kidnapped. Though by sheer luck, he runs into Maze, the wise leader of the Heroes’ Guild, who saves him from the remaining bandits and trains him in the ways of the hero.

Inside the Heroes’ Guild: A map of Albion, a Cullis Gate, and a glowing magic circle for training your hero abilities.

And soon enough, the boy grows into a young man, dedicating his days to combat training and hitting the books late at night, leaving behind his traumatic past, which lingered on as a distant memory. Lead by the guild master, he is taught the principles of sword fighting, ranged archery, and channeling magic through focus.

You can’t be a hero without impressing the public with your amazing feats.

Alongside his friendly rival, Whisper, the hero graduates from his apprenticeship, earning the guild seal as a symbol of pride and access to quick travel. In the heroes’ guild, you can pick up a bunch of quests, ranked from bronze to gold. Completing the main quests always pushes the story forward, but the side quests give you plenty of exp orbs and gold as rewards.

Briar Rose and Thunder will sometimes interfere with your heroic deeds as rivals who compete for honor and glory.

The country of Albion encompasses many different regions such as Bowerstone, Greatwood, Darkwood, and Oakvale. Most towns give you an opportunity to restock on supplies. Taverns usually have plenty of beer and shopkeepers sell consumables like apple pies, red meat, and fish which boost your skills by a bit. There’s always a cube of tofu leftover for those on a diet.

A world map’s view of Albion showing the quest regions.

Being a hero is no easy task, given that monsters will start pursuing you no matter where you travel. That’s why most players tend to have 10 or more potions on hand before entering a quest area. If you plan to cast mage spells, drinking a Will potion should restore your mana after you use up a physical shield.

I will admit the outfits are fun to collect: You have the standard leather or chainmail armor, and then you have all these funny-looking hats. Some players are ardent collectors, so they will insist on owning NPC-based outfits even if those offer next to no protection in battle.

This menu displays your equipped armor, lists the hero’s stat changes, alignment modifier, and attractiveness.

Some outfits are labeled by their alignment as bright or dark. Wearing dark armor makes you more evil by default, perfect for scaring away the innocent children. It’s even possible to get away with cross-dressing in the Bordello quest and seduce guys who are none the wiser.

Most of the humor in Fable is found in descriptions of clothing: Lady Grey’s cosplay dress is designed to “reduce breathing to shorten conversation times with those poorer than yourself.” The chicken hat won at a chicken-kicking contest tells you that wearers once worshipped the chicken god, Eggtor, until they got kicked out of town by an angry mob.

You have alternative choices like the katana, pick hammer, or maybe a mace.

If you run out of gold, then I’d suggest buying low and selling high to merchants as a strategy for generating huge profits. Simply ditch your old gear after you buy the next tier weapon, trading in iron for obsidian. Evil heroes might try to lure villagers outside and kill them to seize up their properties, that is when the guards aren’t looking.

Later in the game, you have the option to invest in Albion’s real estate. You can choose to buy the house and live in it, or rent the complex out to the villagers. They can get pretty expensive, though one could argue the payoff would be well worth it when you do need to buy a 19,000 gold Master Axe.

If you leave a town and come back in a few days, you’ll be able to collect monthly rent. To raise the property’s value, you just have to hang up some trophies of your noteworthy conquests and decorate the interiors until they look absolutely posh. Yes, this is a British game.

The more battles you win, the more experience you gain. Once you’ve collected enough orbs, you can spend them on improving your abilities. For example, a higher Physique makes you swing harder with a melee weapon while increasing Speed makes you faster in shooting your bow.

Your hero ages really fast if you want to specialize in magic, he’s gonna be an old wizard by the time you max out your levels.

The most fun you’ll have is acquiring a set of eight magic spells. Enflame and Battle Charge lets you knock down a group of enemies, as opposed to blasting one in front of you with lightning or a charged up fireball. Slow time is incredibly useful if you’re overwhelmed because it slows down projectiles hurled at you in mid-air.

Assassin Rush pushes you behind unsuspecting enemies, to deliver a painful backstab. You could learn to summon previously fallen foes, materialize a ghost sword, or combine your Multi-Strike with a combo finisher. The most powerful one is arguably Divine Fury/Infernal Wrath depending on your hero’s alignment.

The UI in Fable gives you preset menus; one for all your attacks, the other for your quick-access healing items.

There is no real leveling system in Fable Anniversary. Instead, players decide how to build their hero, gradually transforming him into a tall, muscular, force to be reckoned with. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to grind by killing monsters when you’re in the middle of a quest.

Now comes the fun part, the actual combat system. It’s not always about hacking and slashing your way out of a group of Hobbes. Arrows can be charged up if you need to aim at a distant enemy. But it also leaves you unprotected against close-range attacks.

You can target hostile creatures by marking them.

The best way to finish them off is to rack up a huge combo multiplier by charging your melee or ranged attacks. Spells drain your Will, so they should be used sparingly. They are certainly more powerful for dealing with heavier AOE damage.

The area map shows the position of enemies as red dots.–The clock displays day and night times so you know when shops are open. The eye points to how many people can see you; quite useful if you decide to steal some rare hairstyles or tattoo cards.

Bragging is a high-risk high-reward challenge: Good luck trying to meet the requirements let alone survive.

In the next part, I shall discuss the side quests, minigames, memorable characters, and hidden treasures, all of which adds enjoyment to the game, providing bits and pieces of lore about the history of Albion and its current residents such as the infamous guild master.

That guy is always inserting thoughts into the hero’s mind: “Try to get your combat multiplier even higher.” or “Hero, your health is low, have you got any potions or food?” Many players regard him as an annoying afterthought for stating the obvious.

To Be Continued…

Fable Part 2

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