The Frog Knight
As you may have guessed, Fable III is a videogame retelling of the third great fable in human history. The first, of course, being the one about it being turtles all the way down. The second great fable is the one about losing socks in the drier. Lionhead Studios, headed by Peter Molyneux, has already released two very successful games in the series telling those stories. This fall they have moved on to the one about the frog and the scorpion.
We all know the fable about a scorpion who asks a frog for a ride across the stream. Fable III begins with you controlling that frog in a lushly recreated estuary. The original fable plays out in the form of a tutorial level. You learn how to move and swim and hop and aim your tongue at flies to catch them. There’s even a mini-boss battle against a water snake.
At the end of the level you meet a silver-tongued scorpion who complements you on your courage and suggests you journey together. In a sequence clearly intended to evoke the old school arcade game Frogger, the scorpion climbs on your back and you attempt to cross the water avoiding various dangers and obstacles. But just as you are about to reach the bank, you are betrayed. The scorpion plunges his stinger into your head and you both sink.
At that moment the camera sweeps over to the reeds on the opposite shore where a tadpole is watching his father die.
After that the game jumps forward. You play the bulk of the game as that tadpole, come to full frog-hood, whose mind has been forever warped by the trauma of seeing his father murdered. Like Batman, the frog reacts by going on a crusade to restore order to the land.
Cue the familiar Fable action-RPG gameplay. You will explore the estuary, meet locals, fight stoats and cranes and fish. Combat is handled through a similar melee/ranged combo system with additional offensive and defensive Amphotics (the game’s magic system).
The game also continues the Fable tradition of highly involved morality and reputation systems. Your appearance changes based on how good or evil you act. You have multiple ways of overcoming obstacles, some more scrupulous than others. The local population will also react to you reputation, your appearance and your demeanor.
The world is expansive. There are a number of huge regions, including the coastal estuary, a bog, woodlands and a mountainous area. You are given the freedom to tackle each in any order that you like, but as was the case in this year’s Alpha Protocol, the order you choose and the choices you make can vastly change what transpires. Unlike Alpha Protocol, this all happens in an open world, free roaming structure.
The whole game builds to a confrontation with an invasive species of scorpion, your most hated foe. It’s an epic experience with sweeping visuals, a haunting score and a surprisingly moving story. I cannot recommend this game enough.