I’ve got to hand it to Lionhead Studios.
They’ve done it. They really have. I’m quite proud of them.
What, exactly, have they done? Well they’ve finally, FINALLY managed to really tug on my heartstrings. With a human, that is. The dog in Fable II was adorable, but doesn’t quite match an attachment to a human.
The thing about Fables I and II was that you never really felt a human connection, and emotional pull towards anyone, or any type of loyalty. Of course Fable gave you the option to marry and have children; however all the characters you could marry were flat, one dimensional, cardboard cutouts that could easily be replaced by the next guy or gal. I would have no qualms over leading my husband through Wraithmarsh or along the Bandit Coast and having him be killed in some way. The characters that were unique and interesting (the far and few between) didn’t have the option of marrying.
But Fable III, I’m happy to say, has gone beyond the boring and identical characters (although plenty of them still exist). In the very beginning of this game, you will encounter a person of opposite gender named Elliot or Elise. You’ll learn that this person is your lover of sorts. About 2 minutes later, you’ll have to decide if you want to kill your lover or a group of villagers. If that doesn’t sound too bad to you, imagine letting your lover live, only to end up being apart from them. That is, until you embark upon a quest to find a kidnapped fiancee…only to find that the fiancee missing is your former lover!
And at that point, you’re given the option to choose if that person should stay with their betrothed, or if they should move on…to you.
Yeah, it’s a tricky choice you’re given, and while there aren’t a whole lot of repercussions (a few good or evil points, depending on if you ask them to leave their betrothed or not), I want to applaud Lionhead Studios for giving us gamers such a difficult decision. Even though I played a good character the whole way through, after re-meeting Elliot and hearing him talk about how he still loved me, I couldn’t bear to give him up.
However, I want to point to my favorite video game developer, BioWare. BioWare REALLY knows how to manipulate emotions and make the player feel connected to characters even though they aren’t real. For example, in BioWare’s game Dragon Age, when you go to fight the final boss, it is inevitable that the boss will kill someone, and you have to decide who it will kill; yourself, one of your comrades, or, in a strange twist of events, you can have someone sleep with and impregnate a witch in order to save everyone. Imagine, if you will, you play as a female, begin a romance with your fellow team member, and then, if you want both yourself and him to live at the end, you have to force him to sleep with the witch.
Yeah, that’s painful. See this post to glimpse the depths of my despair when I decided I wanted both of us to live.
Or what about BioWare’s epic space game, Mass Effect 2, when finally meet up with your lover from the first Mass Effect? You were separated for two years, imagine the pain you put your lover through… and the anger they throw back at you.
So, congratulations Lionhead Studios, for finally instilling some powerful [human] emotion into the Fable series, but you’ve still got a long way to go if you want to make a true mark in that area.