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Fable Journey losing some black humour

Lionhead "going for a lighter feel".

Kinect game Fable: The Journey will lose some of Fable's trademark black adult humour, lead artist Tak Saito has revealed.

Fable II was rated 15 by the BBFC, and Fable III was rated 16+ by PEGI. Saito, speaking at the Develop Conference, said Lionhead now has a family audience to consider.

"Because our game is also aimed at a family audience as well as core gamers, we also like to go for a lighter feel," Saito announced.

"We're losing some of the black adult humour characteristics of Fable and going for a lighter feel - vibrant, fresh, playful."

The other remarkable thing about Fable: The Journey, aside from being a Kinect game, is that it's built on Unreal Engine 3. That's a first for Lionhead and a "huge decision", Saito said. Why did Lionhead pick it? To speed up development.

"Another direction of this project is that we tried to make it quickly," revealed Saito. "That actually made us decide to take on Unreal, because we don't have to worry about technology side.

"Our transition was really smooth. We're really surprised at how easy things are, because in previous projects the engine-coders' ambition was really high and the technology itself was really great but we had to suffer. So we're happy to take Unreal."

Lionhead picking Unreal for Fable: The Journey begs the question of what this means for the long-term? We know the studio is working on "a super secret second project", so will this use Unreal Engine 3 as well?

Therefore, is this a shift away from proprietary engines for Lionhead? "No, no," answered Saito, pressed in a follow-up interview by Eurogamer. "There are still people actually developing something else."

"For this project we decided to use Unreal, and that's all I can really say."

Fable: The Journey will follow the story of a boy who leaves his tribe because he doesn't fit in. He wanders off and bumps into hooded mystic and Fable series familiar Teresa. And from there his journey begins. The characters of Fable II and Fable III were also different, and they turned out to be heroes. Will this boy share their fate? Saito wouldn't say.

Fable III was set in an industrial Britain-inspired land. But Fable: The Journey will be brighter, and set in a primitive and rural 18th century Britain, Saito revealed. You'll visit areas resembling the Scottish highlands, Yorkshire moorland, Welsh hills, Irish bogs, Cornish coastline and "woodland too wooded to exist anywhere any more".

Whether Fable: The Journey will offer deep moral dilemmas, character customisation or towns to explore - just like in other Fable games - Saito couldn't say.

Development on Fable: The Journey development is six months in. After a misleading on-stage E3 demo, Lionhead now plans to offer a playable Fable: The Journey demo at German game show Gamescom next month.

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Fable: The Journey

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Robert Purchese

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Bertie is a synonym for Eurogamer. Writes, podcasts, looks after the Supporter Programme. Talks a lot.