Drawing new fans into a franchise can be a challenge, and establishing excitement for a new project is equally so. While radical redesign and presentation draw the eyes and offer amusement, Fable: Heroes is a game strictly for already established fans, or those looking for a new party game.
Simple to control and engagingly colorful to look at, 'Heroes' certainly isn't boring, but each level is short, with two possible endings for each (a minigame or a boss), and it's possible to beat the entire game in about 2.5 hours, if you are playing solo as I did. The bosses do provide a nice challenge in an otherwise easy game, but even if your little puppet dies in combat, you'll still keep fighting away as a ghost. It's a nice nod to 'Fable II' & 'III' where your player character never actually dies, but the game is filled with little clever nods to its parent franchise like this one, as well as a minigame involving exploding chickens and a hobble costume that can be equipped from random chests.
What was engaging about the 'Fable' franchise was its narrative and its extreme moral choices. Fable: Heroes has no story to speak of, as you are simply controlling a puppet running through one linear world after another, and its concept of the morality system is broken down into random sets of chests that can be opened, one with an angel head above it, the other with a devil, and depending on your choice, you get a helpful or not-so-helpful bonus (i.e., a coin cloud or your hero becomes tiny).
Unfortunately, Fable: Heroes relies a bit too much on its visual gags and clever familiarity to appeal to anyone outside of the established fan base, and the depositing of in-game gold for use in the upcoming Kinect offering Fable: The Journey makes 'Heroes' seem like a marketing tool more than a game. This element was at the back of my brain throughout my time with the game after I discovered the banking system for 'The Journey', and I had a hard time separating the feeling that I was playing an extended advertisement, rather than a game. While I was entertained by my time with the game, and will probably try to play through it again with some friends, it is, ultimately, for fans of its parent franchise only.
The Official Verdict: 3 out of 5
This review is based on an Xbox 360 copy of the game provided by the publisher.