Fable, the last throes

Welcome to another Quick Bits article. Welcome to 2023. Last summer I got the opportunity to finally playthrough and complete Fable, a beautiful and earnest attempt in the 2D classical adventure game genre. I wanted to write a few words on it, take some pictures, and upload the recorded video but completely forgot about it, until now.

By 1996, the era of classical 2D point’n’click adventure games was coming to an end. In its heyday, only a few years earlier, the genre had captivated a generation with some of its most prominent titles but in a race to employ the newest in trends and technology 2D was given way for cringy (for the most part) full-motion video and crude 3D. The craftsmanship of game development was changing and the requirements, especially financially, skyrocketed, resulting in a vast array of mediocre products trying to embrace many of the new capabilities multimedia computers provided. To add to injury other genres won over mainstream consumers, adventure games were becoming a niche genre.

One of the few companies that still had faith in classical puzzle-solving 2D graphic adventures in the mid’90s was Simbiosis Interactive.
Simbiosis, inspired by the likes of Sierra On-Line’s King’s Quest series, wrote out the story of the protagonist and inexperienced adventurer Quickthorpe and his attempt to complete the quest, given to him by the priest of his village, of liberating his people and restore peace to the land. Obtain four mystical gemstones, from the Four Lands of the Mecubarz, said to have control over a part of nature. In order to obtain each gemstone, a creature acting as the gem’s guardian had to be killed.
With backdrops meticulously crafted in visually pleasing tones and much of the detailed animation done by an ex-Disney employee, the game looked fantastic and came with excellent voice acting.

Fable was released internationally in 1996 by British Telstar Electronic Studios but became infamous for its rather dark ending which didn’t match the somewhat light-hearted and a bit twisted tone present in the rest of the game. The ending was rewritten for the North American version released the same year by Sir-Tech.

The North American version, released by Sir-Tech on CD-ROM for MS-DOS and Windows 95 in 1996

While praised for its beautiful visuals, detailed animations, and voice-acting, many reviewers found the writing mediocre with a convoluted story and unsatisfying ending.
Fable would become Simbiosis Interactive’s only game, Telstar which published it internationally, never saw much success and by the beginning of 1999 had debts of well over £10 million. In May of the same year, the company struck a deal with Take 2 Interactive, which essentially gave full control over Telstar.

A complete playthrough of the North American version of Fable.
The North American version had the infamous dark ending from the international version rewritten to be more in line with the more light-hearted tone of the rest of the game

Traditional adventure game players would find Fable a worthy addition to a market quickly drying out. In the coming years, only a few classical 2D point’n’click adventure games managed to keep the genre somewhat alive. When the new millennium took off, adventure games, in the eyes of the mainstream market were nothing more than a novelty.

Sources: Wikipedia, MobyGames

2 thoughts on “Fable, the last throes

  1. Don’t you hate it when you search for this game and instead results for the other “Fable” series comes up? LOL

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