It is, Peter Molyneux tells me, a departure from the numbered Fable games.
“One, two, three was all about the bloodline and you played a hero and you had the destiny of a bloodline,” Molyneux said. “In this you are the member of this tribe and you start the game with no powers.”
“You get separated from this tribe and you find this woman, Teresa from one, two, three, who is being hunted by something. You have to carry her all of the way across Albion, until you get to the shores where you need to take a boat to the Spire. As you progress on the journey you become more hero like.”
So this is a Kinect game driven by story, Molyneux says, something he was a little concerned about creating.
“One of the big problems I have with story-based gaming on the Kinect is that people are standing up. I don’t like the idea of being entertained while standing up.”
For a bulk of the game you will be sitting, or can sit while you play. The main way to traverse the world of Albion is in a horse and carriage, which you guide as if holding invisible reins.
Having players guide a horse and carriage, rather than walk, solves a big problem with these sorts of Kinect games. You no longer have to worry about controlling the exact movements of a player walking along a path and instead can “guide” a horse with broad gestures. To move forward you snap your hands forward as if cracking reins. To turn you pull one hand back and another forward.
Later, when I ask Molyneux if the game is an adult game or a game meant for children he tells me that he wanted people to be able to choose, if they wanted to, to beat the horse so viciously that it would bleed.
The horse, he says, is meant to be more than just a way to get around, you will also form a bond with it. Much like players formed a bond with the dog in Fable 2.
“This is your horse and you’re going to have a relationship with your horse. You can speak to your horse. You can go ‘tch, tch’ to get him to move.”
While much of the game will take place as you ride in the horse and carriage, there will be times when you have to go on foot. In those moments the gameplay will essentially be on rails, with players using their hands to cast spells, but having no control over movement.
“Most of the action is on the carriage, it’s more rare to take the action away from the carriage,” he said.
Our demonstration of the game opened with a player guiding the carriage along a rutted road, while he could move the carriage to the left and right sides of the road, he still had to stick to the path. As he guided his horse and carriage along the road, he passed a patch of glowing aqua green crystals. Raising his hand to point to the crystals, he was able to collect them.
“You can pick up these stuff that we call life force,” Molyneux said.
That lifeforce is later used to cast magic, the key element of the game.
The Kinect game tracks your hands, allowing you to use motions to cast spells. Pulling your hands together creates a fireball and pushing forward releases it. You can mix spells by swirling your hands together and then opening them up to release the spell. You can also guide your spells after you’ve released it.
While we watched, the player cast a giant fireball off to the side of the screen, instead of directly at the shield-wielding, goblin like creature confronting him. The fireball flew off to the side and then the player guided his hands back down to the centre of the screen and the fireball followed the movement, slamming into the side of the creature.
Molyneux said you can also drew objects, creating them by tracing them in the space in front of you. As he said this, the player pulled a glowing blue spear out of the air, tossing it at another goblin standing in a nearby tower.
Drawing a rectangle creates a shield that the player uses to block attacks.
Other uses that we didn’t see, include drawing a telescope or a fishing pole that can then be used to scout out an area or go fishing.
This encounter with the goblins all occurred during one of those out-of-carriage moments, but Molynuex told Kotaku that the magic works just as well when you’re riding in your carriage. If you lift both hands in front of you, you have the reins. If you reach out and pull toward you, you are collecting lifeforce, and if you are going through the motions of casting, you’re weaving magic. The Kinect, Molyneux said, will know the difference.
The gameplay and the way it leans on tracing symbols to create magic, draws a bit from another Molyneux game: Black & White, he said.
That game taught him the importance of symbols, not buttons, as triggers for magic.
“You could do all of this with button presses,” he said. “But it’s not the same feeling. I love this feeling that this is a physical thing you’re doing.”