My Curious Interest in Fable III
My interest in Fable III was really low when it came out. I didn’t really enjoy the first game in the series and this one had quite low review scores all across the board. So I decided to skip it and kept that decision up until the last weekend when the game was on sale on Steam. I was sick at the time and couldn’t really play games that required any form of time commitment in front of the computer, so a single player game was exactly what I needed. My expectations weren’t high, and at first my distrust was confirmed. All I saw was a shoddy console port with lame mini-games and what might just be the worst NPC-relationship system ever invented. I kept playing though and now I’m … intrigued.
Be warned: This post contains a few spoilers for Fable III. Read on at your own peril.
The first positive thing that comes to mind is the world of Albion. While there clearly are fantasy elements in it, it also has enjoyable steampunk influences and, maybe most importantly, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The game manages to literally make me laugh out loud from time to time without drifting into goofy or slapstick territory. At the same time it mixes industrial revolution, oppression of the working class, and magic fireballs into one believable world – not a small feat.
During the first part of the game you will run around gathering followers for your revolution against your brother, the king. These followers not only need some convincing before they join you, but also require you to make political promises for the time when you become king instead of the king. It turns out though, that keeping such promises is much, much harder (read: expensive) than making them and kingdom finances turn into the major issues in the second part of the game. My capitol’s orphanage required some major construction work, for example, which of course would be expensive. I had the choice to spend money on that or turn the whole thing into a brothel, gaining me a neat sum of money for the treasury instead.
Being a truly benevolent ruler is, as it turns out, impossible unless you are willing to use your own funds to fuel your empire. Obviously, I decided to do pretty much anything I could for my subjects and invest my own fortune into the real estate market (surely a fool proof investment?) By now I own ever house and shop in my Kingdom providing me with a sizeable income every five minutes. Acquiring such a fortune was surprisingly fun.
While the money game as well as the unlocking of new abilities on my weapons are the kind of fun that we all know from progression games (including MMOs), Fable III also has some deeply immersive moments. In one case I was shipwrecked in a desert and happened upon some sort of evil darkness dwelling underground. During this episode the darkness would slowly drive my companion insane and drain all power from my character until I collapsed in the middle of the desert; darkness all around me even though the desert sun shone mercilessly. This part of the game was a rather well written piece of entertainment – linear, but without feeling as if control had been taken from me, and simply believable.
I still wouldn’t call Fable III a good game. It makes a lot of elementary mistakes and the console port is really just awful. Still, I absolutely don’t regret spending those 13 Euros on the game, will continue playing it for a bit, and will surely have at least one more post inspired by it.