Recently, I’ve been digging through my back catalogue and playing through games I enjoyed a few years back.
Fable Anniversary takes me right back to those long summer days, picking it up at Blockbuster with the summer game pass, and playing it in my mom’s room on the original Xbox until she had to go to bed.
Fable has always been close to my heart, and it’s one of my favorite games of all time. Judge me as you will.
What is Fable Anniversary?
Fable Anniversary is a remastered version of Fable: The Lost Chapters, which itself was an updated version of the base game with new areas, quest, armor, etc.
This title is now 7 years old, and I recently jumped back in to see what it was like in 2021.
The game was a means to test the water for interest in the Fable franchise, as well as to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the series as a whole.
You start the game as a child with a brief introduction to the morality system before your village is raided and you are brought into the Heroes’ Guild as an apprentice.
From here, you like out your adolescence, training under the Guild and learning the basics of combat, archery, and magic. This is a very interesting way to introduce player mechanics in an immersive way that makes sense within Fable’s world.
Once you have completed your training, you graduate the Guild at 18 years old and are given, somewhat, free-reign to the world of Albion. It’s worth noting that the game is, for the most part, rather linear by today’s standards, but we’ll jump more into that later.
Once you graduate you take on Quests from the Guild hall, as well as from NPC’s throughout the world in the traditional RPG manner.
You are free to choose where to spend the experience you get from combat, being melee, ranged archery-based attacks, and a plethora of magic spells.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Fable is the hero morphing system. As you place your experience into different aspects of your character, you actually see your hero change. As you place more experience into melee, your hero becomes more muscular, ranged attacks see your character grow taller, and investing in magic has your hero pulse with mana lines throughout their body.
This is probably the most interesting system in the game, although, each point you spend also makes your hero age (the plus side to playing on PC is that you can install mods to customize this system).
So, in those regards, Fable is a very immersive game. Taking that one step further, Lion Head Studios created a, for the time, quite robust NPC system.
NPCs will react to your character depending on your morality, the current quests you are on, as well as how you express yourself to them. That’s right, Fable had emotes way before they were an infectious micro-transaction leech bogging down every major title.
Fable, as a series, struggled to maintain its audience after subsequent blatant lies regarding features in each title, but it has always maintained notable heart and an endearing blend of serious and comedic tones.
Why It’s Great
The aforementioned NPC system is still fun to play around with. You can give most items to any NPC you want, this goes as far as allowing a romance system where hearts will appear over NPCs that find you attractive. You can give gifts and use emotes to max out the heart and even marry these NPCs.
Another example of what you can do is go to the tavern in a town and buy some beers and give them out to the NPCs and watch them all stumble around.
You can command NPCs to follow you around, and you can even purchase their houses if you chose to dispose of the owners. With that, you can buy said house and live in it or rent it out to a new batch of citizens. It’s possible to own almost all of the houses within each town in Albion.
Layering that on top of the morality system, NPCs will be frightened of you if you chose to pursue a life of crime and evil deeds, or openly cheer and celebrate your presence if you pursue a life of more heroic deeds.
The Morality System
Fable was one of the early titles to adopt the morality system. Killing villagers, stealing, eating meat, choosing to pursue evil-aligned quests, and chose the evil choices within certain quest lines causes you to drift further and further into darkness. With this, NPCs will fear and hate you, prices at shops will be worse, and you will begin to grow horns, lava-like hands and feet, and glowing red eyes.
On the other hand, good deeds cause your hair to grow blonde, and a halo to appear above your head. NPCs will celebrate your presence, you will receive better prices at shops, and you’re on track to get the good ending.
The morality system was a bit unbalanced, as the game has you earning good morality for simply killing enemies, so you really have to go out of your way to maintain that evil streak, if that’s what you’re going for.
Still, it is a fun system, and it’s always nice when a game has multiple paths for the player to pursue. That level of freedom is always appreciated here.
Hero Morphing is something uniquely Fable, and it is a flagship feature in each of the mainline games.
The Hero Morphing system sees your hero physically change depending on how you allowcate your experience points, alongside what morality you choose as mentioned above. This creates, as you play, a hero uniquely based on how you choose to play the game.
Stacking on top of that is also a weight system. The more red meat, beer, and pie you eat, the more your waistline will expand. But, if you run around long enough, eventually you’ll drop those extra pounds over time.
It’s also worth noting that there are tons of different hairstyles, beards, and tattoos that you can place on your face, arms, legs, chest and back, to help create a hero that is uniquely yours.
This feature also allows for lots of replayability. As a kid, I distinctly remember completing two full playthroughs with each morality, different skill allocations, different tattoos, and hair, and choosing a different town to settle down in to create two truly unique experiences.
There is something undeniably wholesome about the world of Fable, its characters, story, and environments. It has stuck with me through all of these years, and still remains one of my favorite titles to this day.
Fable Anniversary takes all that was good about the first iterations and puts a new coat of paint on them.
For as old as the game is, the world still feels alive and lived in. NPCs have a routine and work, go to the tavern to eat, and explore the city and interact with one another.
For the time, this was really interesting, and it’s still fun to watch even today.
I adore Fable, and I wish that the second title would see a PC release, as well as, a remaster of Fable III, as that is something of a mess on PC.
As mentioned above, Fable is still one of my favorite games of all time, and Fable Anniversary is simply that same game I love with a facelift and some additional cosmetic content.
If you enjoy RPGs or light-hearted gaming experiences, I wholeheartedly recommend Fable and all of its iterations, but I also admit that it is not a game for everyone.
The combat is very simple and button-mashy, although the spells are unique and fun, I think all of that takes a back seat to the world and the NPC interactivity.
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