In September 2004, Microsoft published Peter Molyneux’s high-anticipated Fable on the Xbox, which saw mostly favorable reviews although many criticized its length compared to other role-playing game titles and the lack of certain promised features. The following September saw the release of a director’s cut of the game, Fable: The Lost Chapters for both the Xbox and Microsoft Windows, which is perhaps the definitive version of the game, and, given its meager length like the original version, puts quality above quantity.
The Lost Chapters features an action-oriented battle system, with the player naturally coming close to foes to engage in combat on whatever battlefields they may encounter throughout the game. The player can also make enemies of NPCs in towns, although doing so might result in fines the player must pay. The hero locks onto foes with the spacebar, moves around using the W, A, S, and D keys, and uses the left mouse button to hack away, with the right mouse button open for special attacks once the player has dealt enough damage. Pressing the mouse wheel causes the hero to defend briefly, and holding down shift and pressing one of the mouse buttons will trigger an MP-consuming magic spell, the player also able to use the wheel to swap spells.
The player has a choice between using a melee and ranged weapon, and odds are that players will wish to stick with the former option since not many enemies are easily susceptible to ranged attacks. As the player uses melee, ranged, and magic skills, they gradually acquire experience they can use at the Hero’s Guild to increase stats and learn new magic spells, with enemies also dropping glowing green spheres that they can freely use for melee, ranged, and magic stat and skill boosts. Special potions can also resurrect the player if their HP reaches zero. Ultimately, the battle system helps the game far more than hurts, with the system of enemies dropping green spheres that can disappear after a few seconds being the only real mark against combat.
Control is also mostly solid, with easy keyboard and mouse controls and a nice direction at most times on how to advance the main storyline, not to mention a handy save-anywhere feature, although there are some instances when the player must complete a quest or have to restart it from scratch even if they save during the quest. Otherwise, the game interfaces well with the player.
The story follows a hero from childhood to adulthood, with the player able to make several moral choices that somewhat affect events throughout the game. The hero can also marry one of many prospective spouses across the world, give them gifts, and so forth. The central narrative is also generally solid, making the plot one of the game’s high points.
The orchestrated music is fairly enjoyable, as is the English-accented voice acting, although there are some occasions that rely on ambience.
The visuals are also solid for a PC RPG at the time of release, in spite of some occasional pixilated texturing at times.
Finally, the game is fairly short, the main quest taking somewhere from eight to fifteen hours to complete, with several sidequests and post-game content potentially boosting playtime.
Fable: The Lost Chapters is, in conclusion, a solid Western RPG, given its solid combat and control, forgiving difficulty, enjoyable narrative, superb sound, and nice visuals. What it lacks in quantity, it certainly makes up for in quality, and given its easy mechanics, it is consequentially a nice diving board into WRPGs for those normally turned off by the subgenre, one that prospective players can download from Steam at a fair price.
+Solid combat and control.
+Enjoyable narrative with potential variations.
+Superb sound and graphics.
-The game ends.
The Bottom Line:
An excellent beginner’s Western RPG.
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Playing Time: 8-15 Hours