Peter Molyneux has a penchant for the hyperbolic. The same is true in his reaction to a little piece of drama he whipped up in his Xbox Kinect demonstration during Microsoft's E3 keynote address. "Fable on Rails" was an oft uttered term around the convention, dripping into early reviews and reactions to the demonstration.
"Fable Journey is not on rails," is about as definitive a statement as it comes, and it came right from Mr. Molyneux during our closed door demo of Fable Journey. Peter went as far as to politely ask journalists to sign a wall of the Microsoft E3 booth verifying this statement.
However, this is not the full story of Fable Journey. From what we heard directly from Peter, it is more like Fable with limited options. For those who have not yet seen the video demo, the game is primarily focused upon piloting a horse and cart.
In this mode, it appears motion is fairly unbridled, if you will pardon the pun. Once you get off horseback, it appears you have limited options as to where you will be able to move. However, you will definitely be able to pick where you go. Peter states that the motion demonstration was removed as he wanted to showcase the extensive gesture-based magic system, which appears to be the most interesting looking part of the game so far.
Molyneux said that magic is the only form of combat available in the game, though its power is seemingly limitless in that the player can use it to craft spears, hammers, fishing rods and more. We saw for the first time examples of magic bending, squeezing, rotating and diverting to hit the targets in different ways to different effects. However, this magic is auto-targeted.
It is said that the game will be a full-featured RPG with multiple characters, as well as a mission system with side-quests and a full storyline that takes place over a distance of 300 miles.
Then there is the horse, which takes the place of the dog in Fable 2, although you spend perhaps more time with this character. You can choose to whip and starve the horse to get through the quest faster, or you can take care of it, it is once again all up to the player and your choices radically affect the storyline.
Curious is the addition of voice-commands, where you can replace your physical interaction with the horse with Kinect voice-commands. For example, cracking the reigns when you say "Yah" will result in the horse learning that command over time.
All in all, Fable Journey appears deeper than originally depicted, but a lot remains to be seen. There will be another demo released in nine weeks that will hopefully showcase some of the things that Peter talked about.
However, with so little shown of the game, we have to exercise caution in any final judgements at this point in time.