Fable Heroes preview first look at the Albion-themed beat em up

For those who have been itching to embark on a new Fable adventure cooperatively should keep their eyes on Fable Heroes, a four-player couch or online (or any mash-up of the two) cooperative brawler set in Peter Molyneux’s fictional nation of Albion. However, it’s not the same glowing expansive wilderness that you’re used to. Fable Heroes is set in a stylized cartoony world of Albion and you’re playing as puppet versions of some of your favorite Fable heroes. Yes, we said puppets.

What is it? Fable Heroes was an idea that Ted Timmins came up with during Lionhead Studio’s creative day, where employees take a break from their usual grind to get together and brainstorm new ideas. Fable Heroes is meant to be a game that’s easy to pick up and play and family-friendly. We’ve been reassured that the hardest difficulty setting will add a challenge for seasoned gamers, but the game’s focus is to create a fun, competitive and cooperative experience for everyone set in a world that gamers have grown accustomed to.

Who is the developer? The game is being developed by Lionhead Studios and published by Microsoft.

How does it look? The idea behind the style and look of the game was to make it feel like a puppet show on stage. It’s charming, colorful and fits the tone that they’re going for, which is family-friendly fun.

How does it play? Fable Heroes is a side-scrolling, four-player button masher where the goal is to get as many coins as possible, which can then be used to purchase upgrades to your puppet. Another perk is that you can also unlock items in Fable: The Journey, the Kinect game that will also launch around the same time. There are 12 puppets to choose from including Reaver, Garth, and of course, Hero. Each puppet has his or her weapon of choice and will play differently, so choose wisely. Various power-ups throughout the levels can help or hinder your character but what’s nice is that even if you die, you don’t have to sit out. Instead you can still fight as a ghost until you pick up another heart to jump back into the game and start earning coins again. For those competitive types, leaderboards are included.

The menu and character upgrade system is laid out like a board game, complete with dice and your puppets as moving pieces. There are eight levels in all, but once you’ve completed the game you can go through the levels again but this time it’s Dark Albion. Instead of clobbering hobbes by day you’ll be swarmed by hollow men under a full moon. Toward the end of each area, there is a fork in the road and in our demo we could choose to either face a giant spider, or play a minigame of “dodge the explosive chickens.” There are six minigames in all that can be replayed at any time.

When is it out? Fable Heroes will be released on Xbox Live Arcade this summer.

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