O hai there, Lusi-sprites.
Unlike Noober, my fear of Lusipurr outweighs my loathing. Also I do not live on the other side of the world. Therefore I will not be able to treat you lovelies to a Fable review. If it is any consolation, though, you can take Noob’s review and change “III” to “I” or “II” and you should be good to go. Today I will talk about a game that is almost as epic as Fable, frought with as many difficult, life-altering decisions as Fable: Harvest Moon. Not the fancy-schmancy Happy Town Life Tree Village editions from more recent consoles, but the good ol’ SNES version.
There is no denying that games like Fable task the player with some difficult decisions, with obvious and not-so-obvious moral distinctions. Should I murder that villager or escort them to safety? Burn the orphanage to the ground or give them a donation? So many choices, so many (ok two) paths to follow. Yeah, well, Fable has nothing on Harvest Moon. Forget about holding the lives of countless innocents in your hands. Try figuring out whether to plant turnips or potatoes, or whether to sell extra chickens or keep them to lay more eggs. These are the things that truly matter in life, the choices that truly define us. Are you a corn man or a tomato man, or do you support a healthy mix of both? Do you believe in segregation of the vegetables? These truly are the morally ambiguous decisions that make a game great.
Yeah, ok. I am full of poop today. As much as I really do enjoy Harvest Moon, and as much as I really do carefully consider which crops to grow and where to plant them, Fable is the game on my mind. Not because of its impressive voice acting, dramatic imagery, or flagrant chicken abuse. No, I am dwelling on the morality system today. One of the criticisms levied at Fable since its inception was the glaringly black and white nature of the morality system. Do you kill your opponent, or spare their life? Do you steal from merchants, or pay for goods? Is it good or bad to run around town smashing barrels and windows? A three year old could figure that out, and it makes the morality system incredibly boring. Accept the good guy or bad guy quests depending on your goal, murder and steal or live and let live, blah blah blah.
When Fable III was released it was said that they had learned from the previous games, and taken player feedback to heart. Optimistically I started to play. Certain issues, such as the ease of combat or the fact that magic was always so so so so so much better than melee or ranged attacks would take some time to appraise to see if there was a marked improvement. The morality system, however, that would not take long to judge. Not too far into the game, within the first half hour in fact, the player is presented with a moral puzzle. Do you allow a group of innocent peasants to be murdered, or your significant other? It was tough. I did not really know him well yet, but my would-be boyfriend seemed so nice, surely destined to do great things. The peasants on the other hand, well, there were more of them. If Spock had been there the choice would have been clear, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. I was agonized, but also very pleased. It seemed as if the game was not going to make it so easy to be pure evil, or pure sunshine and rainbows. So feeling quite guilty, I selfishly saved my significant other, prepared to take the hit to my morality, despite having decided to walk the path of good. Wow, not even an hour in and already the game was tempting me from my chosen path!
Then I found out that it did not goddamn matter what I chose there.
Fable III has indeed been much like its predecessors. The moral choices that actually count for anything are obvious, it is easy to be the hero or anti-hero that you wish. And as it turns out, magic is still the best way to fight, and combat is still extremely easy and idiot-proof. All I can do is throw my hands up and ask “whyyyyyyyy?” Why do they not learn? Why tease your fans by acknowledging your game’s shortcomings, but fail to do anything about them?
Peter Molyneux, you are a false prophet, sir.