Age of Fable

by James Hutchings

Fantasy
2006

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Number of Reviews: 2
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A lost(-ish) game from an older internet, September 15, 2022

The official website for this game does not work, and the author's website seems to be entirely offline. It's not playable using Wayback Machine either, as it was a PHP game relying on a server backend.

Fortunately, the author released the source code of the game. I downloaded the code and was able to run the game on my own computer, with some modifications. My repository for this game is here (the hardest part was actually finding and downloading the images). You can try it out, if you have php installed.

While writing this review I discovered that this game was not lost after all; there is a playable version online at https://aof.guzh.me/, with a Chinese translation. This link didn't work when I first discovered the game, which was why I downloaded the source code.

Now, about the game itself: this reminds me of the Choice of Games style, although with more randomness, something like an open world, a lot more opportunities to die, and a more DnD-like stat system. So not really like CoG at all. I know it's supposed to be more akin to pen-and-paper gamebooks, but I'm not familiar with gamebooks (CoG might have also been gamebook-inspired). The basic structure of the game is adventuring in various hub locations (in a city, in the wilderness, in the ocean) with randomly chosen events/storylets in each location. There is a large number of random events, with moods ranging from comedy to tragedy to horror, and I still have not nearly discovered them all (the total word count might be over 100k). Despite the variety of events, there can be a lot of repetition at the hubs; you often find yourself back at the main city after a random event in the ocean.

From the links provided in the game and the author's blog, it seems that the author has put a great deal of thought into fantasy worldbuilding. But sometimes that didn't quite come through in the game itself. I enjoyed the moment-to-moment writing and the variety of situations in the game, but the scenes felt disconnected. The game doesn't really have a through-plot, or a critical path that the player can follow to reach an ending (I did reach some endings, but that was a while ago and I don't remember them). Even so, I think the game provides an interesting world to explore and a space to play around in.

I enjoyed the artwork, which include classical public-domain paintings, modern fantasy illustrations, sketches, and some CGI.

Anya Johanna DeNiro wrote an excellent review/retrospective of the game at Sub-Q.