When you think of Fable the game, you think of fantastic worlds, ghostly apparitions and a scrappy youth about to travel bravely on a magical quest. I do too. But the game I'm thinking of didn't spawn two divisive sequels, nor does it roam free with an HD remake. The game I'm thinking about has been held up in the Collection Chamber since 1996...
Eight years before Peter Molyneux gave his overreaching imagination to the RPG of the same name, British developer Simbiosis gave us this point & click adventure. It was to be the company's only game.
You play as Quickthorpe, a youth who's been charged with finding some gemstones to save the world and blah, blah, blah. To be honest, the plot isn't that brilliant or memorable. I replayed a good chunk again in order to write this review and still cannot tell you much about what happens. Something about some mystical dead creatures - or am I getting my Fables mixed up?
What is memorable though is the humour, and in particular the way the top notch voice actors deliver the script. Whether its asking a gruff hunter to join him for a skinny dip or the narrator dryly proclaiming that "Quickthorpe is now the proud own of a piece of spiderweb", your never far away from the odd chuckle.
There are negatives though. The game is buggy, occasionally crashing from time to time and the interface leaves a lot to be desired. There is no menu button, or icon on the screen. To access the main menu, you'll need to look at our hero and how to you open the inventory? You use him! It's not helped that one of the puzzles requires the use of 'good meat' and a sock.
Even worse, when you die, and you will die a lot, you're just left hanging (or falling or bleeding). Is this part of a scene? Nope. You're dead. And so is your ability to access the menu. You'd need to press the ESC key to exit back to the main menu and start afresh. Unlike most of the script, these deaths are not played for laughs like in Sierra's Quest series of games, but come out of nowhere with no payoff.
The other bone of contention amongst reviewers at the time was the ending. When it was released in Europe, where Quickthorpe ended up seemed to be in stark contrast to the rest of the game. This was hastily altered for the American release to make it happier, but equally unsatisfactory. It was the Mass Effect controversy of it's day. (If you're curious, see the comparison video below).
I guess it's not hard to see why Fable was consigned to the Collection Chamber, and why it's also deserving of a reprieve. The devil inside it screams loudly, but not quite drowning out the angel to his right. Do you agree that Simbiosis' Fable deserves to be freed from our vault? Take a journey and find out. And let us know what you discover.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 7.
01.07.2015 Version 2 - Improved installer
02.05.2016 Version 3 - Fixed Savegame bug.
Raised cycles in "dosbox.conf" to reduce crashing.
Changed orientation of manual
***SPOILER***Below is a comparison between the two different endings. Do not watch if you wish to be surprised.