'Fable: The Journey' doc takes franchise's story off the rails

Fable: The Journey is a twist on the Fable franchise. The game isn't part of the official trilogy, nor is its scrappy hero is a member of the destined archon bloodline that included all three previous protagonists. The adventure is experience from the first-person perspective, often in the driver's seat of a horse-drawn carriage, and controlled via Kinect. It's also the first game being finished without Lionhead Studios co-founder Peter Molyneux. To assure fans that The Journey is a proper addition to the fantastic world of Albion, the developers have produced a short documentary on the creation of the game's narrative.

Fable: The Journey is a twist on the Fable franchise.

A weird and ambitious departure from the role-playing trilogy that preceded it, The Journey aims to be one of those special games we see at the end of a console cycle. A big idea possible only after a developer's mastered the hardware available to it. But what is The Journey, exactly? To provide a clearer idea, Gary Carr, creative director at Lionhead Studios, took some time to discuss The Journey's long road to release. He also shared a short a documentary detailing the nitty gritty of the game's story.

As a Kinect game, the development team at Lionhead knew they needed something entertaining that would provide players a break from all the physical gestures. The answer was story.

"We've always wanted to tell a deep and engrossing story," says Carr. "I think all game makers do. We're all frustrated film directors, I think. This seemed like a great idea, to do an interactive movie. I think that's what Fable: The Journey is. "

Carr says the filmic structure allowed the team to write a rich story in which characters could be developed, fleshed out with depth and meaning. This, he says, wasn't always possible with the RPG conventions of the traditional Fable games that allowed players to be good, bad, or somewhere in-between, requiring the writing to cater to every possibility.

Not that the game's more linear story should scare away role-playing fans. Carr says the first-person perspective and physical involvement feels like role-playing in the ultimate sense "because you are the hero."

"We've always wanted to tell a deep and engrossing story. I think all game makers do. We're all frustrated film directors."

Lionhead took the linear story as an opportunity to dig into aspects of the world that haven't received as much attention in the past. "We wanted to call out some of the backstories of the characters and regions in more detail. That was a great advantage. We've always wanted to explain more about the regions, the myths, the legends."

Watching the mini-documentary, Fable: The Journey appears to be one of the more unusual games coming from a major developer this holiday, a wild spin-off of sorts. Gabriel, the hero, is a vagabond thrust into a quest he's not prepared for, fighting monsters the size of suspension bridges. It's an underdog story compared to the royal adventures of the Fable trilogy.

The game's world looks and sounds familiar: the British humor; the comical character design; the liberal use of bright colors, not just faded browns. While the first-person perspective looks like a more satisfying way to take in the scenery.

How the game will play is still unclear, and Carr recognizes there's a certain level of concern amongst gamers about Kinect games. "It's going to take a while for good games to come through because it is so different," says Carr. "There should be skepticism. But it's still early days in [Kinect's] life cycles. I just hope consumers will stay patient."

Players will have the chance to try Fable: The Journey out for themselves when the game is released on October 9th.

Watch the mini-documentary below.

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