I’m not sure who posted here last week. I was me…but it was also not me. While I can’t clinically say that I was in a fugue state, it sure felt like part of me had disconnected from my rational self. I think things are better now. Or, at least they feel better. Maybe that’s all that matters.
As strange as it might sound, I’m pretty sure that Fable 2 played a role in my self-therapy.
Wait, wait…I realize now that last week I mentioned something about Ace Attorney. Well, as much as I’ve fallen head over heels for the games, I actually don’t have much more to say right now than that. I’ve fallen head over heels for Pheonix Wright. Woo. Not much of a compelling post in that, now is there? But I feel as though I will have tons to gush about once I finish Trials and Tribulations. So…stay tuned?
But Fable 2. I’ll elaborate more on my current state of gaming in a post next month, but the basic road that led to this highly-touted (by its developer, at least) but underachieving fantasy RPG was paved by Kingdom Hearts.
After completing a meaty if limited tour through Skyrim’s Dark Brotherhood tract and saving the universe yet again (sort of) in Mass Effect 3, I decided that it was good a time as any to switch gears. And with Kingdom Hearts III finally becoming something real, working on Kingdom Hearts, specifically the 1.5 and 2.5 remixes (new acquisitions from earlier in the year) seemed promising. Especially since I never beat the first game and therefore never properly got into the series.
Well, as it turns out, there’s good reason for that. Kingdom Hearts – the first game, anyway – is challenging. I hesitate to simply call it “hard,” because it really isn’t. But I had forgotten that it’s not a very forgiving game, especially with its boss battles, each of which seems to require some form of super-human hand-eye coordination when it comes to managing Sora’s attacks and his team. Failing to take into account my oldness and grumpiness and impatience, I’m finding that this current romp through this classic Disney/Final Fantasy mash-up isn’t quite as much fun as I remember. And at some point in the recent past, I found myself rather stuck in the game. I just didn’t have the energy to move forward. I needed a counterbalance.
With little regard for what might happen next, I stuck Fable 2 on the other end of the scale. I had played it years ago and enjoyed it immensely. Though I got rid of my initial copy of the game, it ended up back in my stash upon finding a new one listed for mere pennies in a Wal-Mart bargain bin last year. I didn’t have much intention behind the purchase other than I liked that game; I’ll get it and play it again someday. Having complete Fable Anniversary earlier in the year reminded me that although the Fable games aren’t perfect, they are perfect for me.
What makes Fable 2 so right for me now is that it’s a low-effort and low-stress game. Its story is simple. Its combat is easy to manage. It’s set a highly explorable sandbox world. One where you can take whatever paths you choose. At its worst, it’s repetitive, boring, and downright annoying. But, I’ll happily navigate those negative aspects if it means that I’m allowed to conduct myself in-game at my own pace. The game doesn’t mind if I spend an entire session just playing dress-up or chopping wood or trying to make my “spouse” happy. Shit, just the other evening I spent a whole session playing through the game’s early evil path – just me sacrificing villagers in the Temple of Shadows. No biggie. Some people hate me; others continue to like me. I’m kinda playing though in a Lawful Evil manner. For now, anyway. I might change my mind later and become an angel. Who knows?
And that’s what I really love about Fable 2. You can become who you want, when you want. Now, this aspect can be applied to other RPGs as well, but Fable 2 is permeated by a ridiculous sentiment. It toes a campy line, and, at points, takes itself too seriously. In it I find hilarity where none was probably meant to exist. Fable 2 entertains me in the most non-committal way possible. Yes, your early choices affect the game later, but even once you’ve changed the world for better or worse, Fable 2 continues to be Fable a game. That steadfastness, no matter the pitfalls that accompany it, is exactly what I need and want right now, from games, and from life.