metzomagic.com Review

Fable

Developer:  Simbiosis Interactive Sarl
Publisher:  Telstar Electronic Studios
Year Released:  1996

Review by Gordon Aplin (January, 1997)

fable.jpgFable is a third person perspective graphical adventure in which you control the character of Quickthorpe in his quest for four fabled jewels. The story unfolds as you progress through the game and the background is presented in the introduction.

Long ago, it seems, your world was taken over by a race of space travellers known as the Mecubarz who appeared as luminous orbs. Over time your people came to resent their enslavement and an attempt was made to overthrow them by Ismael and four companions, but this went horribly wrong. In their retribution the Mecubarz sundered the world into four separate and unchanging domains -- Ice, Mist, Water and Fire. Ismael disappeared and his co-conspirators were transformed into powerful, but evil, creatures each destined to rule over a particular domain. The Mecubarz then departed leaving a specific jewel of power with each of the rulers.

The search begins
As the story opens, you, Quickthorpe, have been selected to restore your world by collecting the four jewels, but separating them from their owners won't be easy. In true adventuring style you must overcome many obstacles along the way and collect many items that may assist you in your quest. You begin at your village, Balkhane, in the permanently frozen Ice realm, and once you have achieved your goal here you must tackle each of the other realms in turn.

With one or two exceptions, the puzzles are not overly difficult to work out and largely consist of using the correct item at the correct spot. The game world is not huge and each realm has relatively few locations to visit, so most of the items you need are close at hand. Yes, there is one maze, but it is relatively simple to navigate. Experienced adventurers are likely to move through the game at a good pace, though there are some red herrings, or so they seemed to me, which may hold you up for a time. These consist of areas where it looks as though you can do things, but which seem to have no bearing on the final outcome of the game if you leave them unfinished. I'm not even certain if there is a solution for them or if they are just there to keep you fiddling and deflect you from your true path.

Similarly, many of the items you can pick up also seem to be red herrings and serve no useful purpose other than to clutter up your inventory, though I don't mind this as at least it provides the comforting illusion that you are getting somewhere, even if you're standing still.

Uninspired script
I must admit to having mixed feelings about this game. I quite liked the graphics and, though I found it to be fairly easy, I enjoyed it whilst I was actually playing. Visually and in style of dialogue it reminded me a little of Simon the Sorcerer, but without the convoluted puzzles. The dialogue is a problem. The game's designers have tried to give Quickthorpe an 'attitude' which merely results in some quite juvenile sexual innuendo and out of context asides, such as a reference to Chernobyl. Yes, I know the game is attempting to be humorous, but what may be mildly tolerable when uttered by a precocious, twelve year old Simon is decidedly not funny when spoken by a, supposedly, twenty year old Quickthorpe.

In addition to the dialogue a couple of other things also irked me. The ending, or at least the ending that I achieved, was a little disappointing. I am not sure if any other outcome was possible, I don't think so, but it was certainly downbeat and unexpected. I won't spoil it by revealing what happened, you will just have to play it yourself and make up your own mind. Also, there seemed to be a minor inconsistency in how the game played. For example, when Quickthorpe dies, as he does on occasion, sometimes you are automatically 'resurrected' at the same spot for a second chance and at other times you must restore to your last saved position. So, just because you may be resurrected early in the game don't become complacent about saving. You will need to save often.

Game interface
The game is mouse controlled and you can cycle through the various action icons such as walk, look, take, use and speak by clicking the right mouse button, then perform your intended action by clicking the left mouse button. You also need to be aware that a range of actions may be available when you are holding an item (your cursor changes into a representation of the object) so that by cycling through the actions you may be able to give the item to another character or drop it in your inventory. This last action is only necessary because of the restrictive nature of the inventory. It can be confusing because each item occupies its own box and after a while all boxes will appear to be occupied, when the available space is essentially limitless and will expand to allow you to scroll through the inventory contents. By choosing to 'drop' an item you will put it in your inventory where a new space is created. It's a bit fiddly and takes some getting used to so, if unsure, read the manual.

On a more positive note, you can quickly open and close the inventory by pressing the space bar and the game's options allow you to display on-screen text and also to speed up Quickthorpe's movement. It is all contained on one CD and installs to DOS or Win 95.

Overall, I thought that Fable had a lot of potential that was not quite fulfilled. The dialogue and the ending were, for me, disappointing, as was the lack of any real depth to the story. On the other hand, I still enjoyed the adventuring components, but then, I do like this style of graphic adventure. Experienced players may find it to be a bit too easy, but it's certainly entertaining enough to provide light relief between tougher games and offers a reasonable challenge to players new to the genre. I'd like to recommend it as suitable for all the family, but just remember that it does contain some rather immature and uninspired dialogue.

metzomagic.com rating:  

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1997. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
486 or higher, 8MB RAM, 2xCD ROM, 2MB Hard drive space, SVGA VESA 1.2 compatible, soundcard and mouse. Windows 95 or DOS 5.0 or higher.
Published in the following languages -- English, Spanish, French and Danish