Fable Heroes. It’s got that familiar name in it, but it’s not really like any Fable you’ve ever played before. So what is it then? Some may call it a spin-off, other may call it a more charming take on Lionhead’s popular franchise. Me? I call it bloody good fun.
The premise behind Fable Heroes is a simple one, basically you take control of one of four ‘puppet based’ heroes and fight your way through various levels, each of which is based on something Fable related, be it a town, dungeon or the like. The main twist here is that you can play with up to three friends, either online or offline, allowing you to beat up the various enemies together, although there is a competitive element as well, since you collect gold along the way, with a winner being named at the end of the level.
Once you get to the end of each level, you are greeted with a monopoly-style board. The amount of gold you collected previously will determine how many dice you get to roll on the board. The purpose of the board is basically to improve your character by spending your gold. Depending on the square on which you land, you’ll be able to unlock a new puppet; improve attacks against certain enemy types; improve multipliers, allowing you to collect more gold during the action or give your favourite puppets a weapon upgrade.
The action during the levels is fairly simple. You have three type of attacks, such as the standard and strong attack, while you also have a super strength attack, which while devastating to the enemy also takes away one of the five hearts which represent your health. The enemies can be quite tough, so keeping an eye on your health is essential.
If you manage to get yourself killed it’s not game over since you can continue to fight on as a ghost until a team mate uncovers a heart, which will allow you back into the game. The only downside to being a ghost is that you’ll not be able to collect gold, so if your team mates are feeling super mean, they could snap up all the hearts before you get the chance, allowing them to steal any gold which appears while you watch on.
It’s quite a neat twist that Fable Heroes does have this competitive element to it. Anyone who has collected the least amount of gold at the end is greeted with the humiliating “wa waa waaa waaaaa” music, while you’ll surely want to avoid.
Another competitive twist is some of the treasure chests you’ll come across, most of these provide good things such as super speed, hearts, multipliers and gold, however, occasionally you’ll also come across bad and good treasure chests, which can allow you to do something bad to team-mates or alternatively shower them with gifts.
The main premise of the game though is to fight and for this you have a choice of many characters, some of which fight with swords, while others use muskets, spells or other forms of attacks. Using these characters you’ll work your way through each level, beating up many different types of enemies and earning as much gold as possible. When you reach the end of the level you’ll be greeted with the choice of two paths, one which leads to an end of level boss and the other which leads to some mini games. The mini games are quite interesting and involve you doing all manner of tasks, be it seeing who can kick the most chickens in a pen, to others, such as who can be first to the finish as you race down a river in a boat.
On the presentation side, Fable Heroes is fairly cute. The main play area is set out on some tiles which give you the option to wander between any levels you have completed, allowing you to see the paths you have already taken. This board has many options, such as allowing you to switch gold between puppets to letting the game choose a random level for you to play. There is even an option to transfer cash to Fable The Journey, although you’ll need to wait until it’s released before that’ll work.
The game itself looks fantastic. Levels are very colourful and the music is bright and chirpy. There is also no real story, instead this is just sheer arcade fun. A nice twist is that even the credits is a level, allowing you to move on through and beat monsters up while the names of those responsible for the game past by in the background.
Playing through Fable Heroes certainly takes a while. First off you have the multiple paths which will ensure you need to play through the game at least twice, and after completing the credits level you’ll then get to see dark Albion, which will allow you to play through each level again in a more dark, twisted version of the game.
Fable Heroes is only 800 MS points and while it’s a far cry from any other game in the series, it’s still a fun romp through many a familiar land. At first it does feel like it’s cashing in on the Fable name slightly, especially since it has no-where near the same amount of longevity, but for short bursts of multi-player gaming, Fable Heroes is a fun and enjoyable experience and one which we’d highly recommend.
Rating: GoodReview Policy(version tested: Xbox 360/XBLA)
Fable Heroes is available on XBLA from May 2, 2012. You can order points card for XBLA from ShopTo here.