Running Fable (XSX) Review with stream

Originally released on PC last year, Running Fable has been ported to Xbox and Switch with crossplay support. It is an offline/online multiplayer cartoony racer that sort of puts the classic kart racing formula in reverse. While it is an interesting approach to the kart genre, horrible quality of life features drastically holds back the experience, fun factor, and playablity.

Instead of racing in a vehicle, players instead control a cute character like a bunny or a turtle (there are only these two at the start) and race across a limited six tracks. Holding the RT acts as the accelerator but this boost power is limited and on a cool down timer. Once this lightning bolt meter is drained, players need to wait for it to refill or collect a meter-filling egg somewhere on the track.

Although this boost meter gameplay element is somewhat par for the course, the item system is not. In any kart racer, driving over an item box provides the player with either a defensive or offensive item that can be used at will. Running Fable does away with this real time item use by giving the players a chance to place traps on the course from a top-down map before the race starts. In a way, it sort of reminds of a Deception or Orcs Must Die game as the player navigates traps (or leads opponents toward them) during gameplay. Therefore, the player just needs to concentrate on controlling the little woodland critter through each track, avoiding these traps along the way, and conserving boost power appropriately. The top-down map also isn’t the greatest as you cannot place traps with any sort of detail. 

Weirdly though, getting snagged by a trap only delays the player for a fraction of a second so getting caught doesn’t carry much of a penalty.  The design of each track is also confusing at best, sometimes splitting into multiple directions, or being fragmented by awkward jumps. When playing any racing game, it is never good when you must wonder if you are racing in the correct direction.

But none of this really matters thanks to the horrific camera control. Saying the camera is unwieldly is an understatement and it doesn’t even follow the player. Many tracks have vertically, tight twists, and the high speed of movement has the player moving faster than the camera.  Even if the camera did properly follow the player, manually controlling it is much too loose. Thankfully, there is an option to adjust camera sensitivity in the options menu and had to turn it all the way to the lowest setting to have any chance of actually seeing what was happening. As another example of the poor camera, it doesn’t even point in the direction of the starting line!

Strangely, there is an experience point system, but it is only tied to the online multiplayer component. These experience points don’t really yield any interesting or worthwhile rewards either. Having the ability to wear a stupid hat that doesn’t provide any perks isn’t worth the hours of grind time needed to unlock them. Also, there is an online leaderboard system that features the players with the fastest times on each track but there is no way to search/sort to find where your time ranks.

Placing items on the track before the race starts is an interesting approach, one that deserves some recognition for being different, but everything falls apart surrounding it.  This digital download costs under $10 so perhaps quality expectation should be so high, but the lack of common-sense features, like a camera system that actually works, makes it feel like this game was rushed, not play tested, or ran out of budget early in development.

SCORE: 3.5/10

Also Try: Rubberduck Wave Racer

Worse Than: emoji Kart Racer

Play It Instead: Beach Buggy Racing 2

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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