Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fable - The Lost Chapters - 1/20 hours

Let me get this out of the way quick. I expected to hate the way this game controls, and it turns out that I do. Casting magic more or less requires you to be a finger contortionist, and while dodging seems notionally possible, I don't imagine I'll be doing much of it any time soon. Maybe I'll get used to it in time, but for now, I can only be grateful that Fable is pretty easy.

With that being said, how is the insight into the nature of evil coming? I didn't decide to do a 1-hour post just because I got distracted by reading a book and didn't get much playtime in. Fable actually has a fun and novel set of tutorial missions that make the 1-hour mark a natural break point.

You start off as a kid in the idyllic town of Oakvale, and you have to save up money to buy your sister a birthday present. You can either do good deeds, and get rewarded with pocket money by your father, or you can do bad deeds, and scrounge money from your various victims.

In addition to teaching you the basic controls, this is the beginning of Fable's much-vaunted "moral choice" system. It was a tough choice for me, because I'm supposed to be playing an "evil" character, so the naughty actions seemed like they'd fit better, but I also know what's coming at the end of the tutorial. Oakvale is getting razed by bandits. It was very tempting, then, to put my character on a complex moral arc.

Maybe the character would start out fresh-faced and idealistic, naively doing small favors for people, imagining himself a guardian of the weak and an agent of justice, protecting young kids from bullies, retrieving a girl's lost teddy bear, and watching a farmer's barns while he steps away to piss, thinking he was noble and heroic . . .

Until he sees real evil for the first time, and in the midst of the fire and the blood he is reborn. No longer a child, he comes to see that only power matters, and thus becomes a brutal marauder, interested only in personal gain, and, perhaps, revenge.

Because it is one of the cruel ironies of life that often the worst people are also the ones who were most victimized, and that their great iniquities are often the result of them passing their pain onto others, or simply living logically by a twisted worldview foisted onto them by people who should have protected them.

However, the challenge wasn't really for me to craft a narrative of evil, but to play a "puppy-kickingly evil" character, and I came to the conclusion that the only way to stay true to the spirit of that goal was to choose the evil option whenever it appeared. So I started off as an unpleasant bully, my town got burned, and I was recruited into the Hero's Guild, where you don't really have any significant choices, period. Still, I graduated with distinction, and am poised to go on my first real mission.

I'm sure I'll find some way to be a dick about it.

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