Review by neonreaper
"If you liked Castle Crashers, you probably won't care about this game"
Fable Heroes, in a nutshell, is a poor man's Castle Crashers and for most people, there's no reason to buy it when Castle Crashers is right there. The game is ridiculously easy, so anyone who is looking for a CC beat'em up experience just won't be satisfied with what the game has to offer. The only semblance of challenge is dominating the game more than other people in order to be at the top of the leaderboards.
The game isn't necessarily a horrible experience. It's just completely mindless. You can roll, normal attack, flourish attack (which takes time and doesn't really seem that effective), and do an area attack (which drains your life). There are some unlockable enemy-specific finishers but pressing X, X, Y instead of X, X, X isn't really much depth. You get gold from hitting/defeating enemies, as well as bonus gold that falls to the ground and you can collect. I think the idea was to encourage some friendly competition to collect gold. Gold allows you to buy special abilities after each level. The game is presented as a board game, and the bonus area allows each character to roll the dice, and whatever tile you land on gives you a set of options for upgrading your character/unlocking new characters. You are basically just at the whim of the dice with unlocking stuff - it doesn't take long to get most things purchased, and then you just keep hoping for the right rolls in order to finish off your character.
After defeating the game once, you unlock the "dark" version of the board, which includes a dark version of each level. They are slightly harder, but it's more along the lines of "slightly less easy". There are also 3 difficulty levels, and on the hardest one "Challenging" you may die a few times due to some of the cheap boss attacks and sheer chaos on the screen, but it's not legitimate challenge.
Similar to Castle Crashers, you have a decent array of different characters to choose from, all of which are Fable NPCs, villains, or the Fable heroes. There is also at least one character unlocked from playing Fable The Journey, but you won't feel the incentive to pick that game up for it's ties to this one, that's for sure. The characters are presented in the form of puppets, and the overall feel of the game is a mix of the puppetry the Fable website games have had, and a watered down Castle Crashers. Characters have their own types of attacks, some melee, some ranged, some both. I don't think the game warrants much in the way of maxing out multiple characters. The only character worth maxing out that you unlock is Jack of Blades, as doing so will net you an avatar reward for the Jack of Blades mask.
Some of the music pieces are nice rearranged pieces from other Fable games, and being a big fan of the Fable series music, I was pleased by that. Fable locations are used for levels, and are adapted well for this type of game. If you've been a fan of the series, the characters, music, touches of humor and levels will appeal to you.
Sadly, the gameplay is too simplistic. I don't mind the lack of challenge personally, but when I play Fable games, I've enjoy the various spells, guns, swords, hammers, etc. available to me. Here it's broken up among characters so you just press the same button over and over and occasionally roll out of the way. I find that melee attacks result in far more gold than ranged, so it's pretty lopsided among the melee characters who bother to roll. The game also lacks true Fable staples such as good/evil decision making - there are good/evil chest choices, but they don't really do anything except let you annoy someone a little bit or give a random person a power-up. Your puppet doesn't grow horns or make any real decisions that would allow him to do so.
The game is done in 2 hours or less, and after that the time you spend depends mostly on how OCD you are about achievements, as I doubt you'll pick this game up to play with friends. For me, it's lasting a little bit longer as I really want that Jack of Blades avatar mask. The game isn't broken and the controls are fine I guess, but again it's just way too simple to recommend to anyone aside from Fable fans.
The only other reason to keep playing is to keep up with the leaderboards. A level was locked from the launch of the game and unlocked when a certain gold amount was reached - the top 100 players at that time were put on the Lionhead site to last in glory for all time. A neat touch but not really worth it, unless you need something compulsive to get you through the last couple of weeks until Diablo III. I read that someone hacked their save file to unlock the Cloud level and it had been reset, so I'm not sure what the status is as of this review's posting. Chances are you either missed the boat or have no chance of catching it, in terms of the top 100.
5/10, game isn't broken, it isn't frustrating (outside of random dice rolls), but there's not much to really enjoy either.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 05/07/12
Game Release: Fable Heroes (US, 05/02/12)
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