I’m not really anti-Kinect. It’s just that a lot of Kinect games really suck. But I absolutely love Dance Central and Fruit Ninja Kinect is always a hit with my non-gaming friends when they come over for after-partying.
But those hits are few and far between.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Fable: The Journey. For one thing, I’m a Fable fan, and the move to capitalise on fancy new technology never seems to translate to a quality game. For another, the concept seemed too kiddy on paper. This probably wasn’t a game made for me, I wagered.
Then I sat down — yes, you can *sit* down for this Kinect game — in front of a demo build of Fable: The Journey. “Shit,” I thought as I flung both arms at the screen with a stupid grin on my face, “I guess I’m just a kid at heart.”
I felt like a Super Saiyan. I’d stretch my right arm out in front of me and glow at the visual confirmation of a stinging hit of “Bolt” electricity against an enemy. My left arm snatched up limbs and dismembered the skeletal soldiers coming my way. Rip their left arm off, and they lose their shield. Rip their heads off, and they lose their sight and balance.
I denied the lunges and strikes of my enemies with a defiant left-arm block intermittent between my own attacks. Arrows and rocks would bounce back at them, or they’d fall back, stunned from being blocked. If I was feeling particularly bloodthirsty, I could wave my right hand to energise a “Fireball” and even aim it high enough to quickly catch and drag down for a rain of fire attack that can hit multiple enemies.
Then the game introduced me to the throwing spear — “Magic Shards” — that you charge up by stretching behind you and then throwing at the screen. Aim is often a little off with many of these Kinectified abilities. Fortunately you can catch any failed throw and drag it down to a target you choose, similar to what I described with the Fireball. Combining all of my attacks — and learning to remember that I can lean to each side to “Strafe” to avoid enemies and their hits — I felt fuelled with power.
That’s always what I imagined the Kinect could possibly do for players, back when it was just known as Project Natal (boy, that’s a name we haven’t seen in a while, eh?). While it’s easy to get engrossed in non-motion-based games to the point where you feel control over your character, you’re still aware of that gap between player and avatar. But when I’m unleashing bolts and whiplashes at enemies with a tangible action in Fable: The Journey, I feel drunk with power.
Fable: The Journey combines the characters and (hopefully — I haven’t seen enough to contest to it) charm of the Fable franchise with the pacing of an on-rails shooter (think Time Crisis or House of the Dead) and the exciting, raw power of something like DragonBall Z. Granted, these are a mixture of my weird amalgamation of references. But what I’m trying to say is: holy shit, do I actually like a Kinect game? Yes, I do, apparently.