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Fable III Original Soundtrack :: Review by Joe Hammond

Bit.Trip Beat Original Soundtrack Album Title: Fable III Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Sumthing Else Music Works
Catalog No.: SE-2091-2
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Purchase: Buy at Amazon | Download at iTunes


The Fable series is an interesting one; it has been mired in controversy and intrigue and has divided opinions. With Fable III the hook is that, halfway through the game, you become the king of the land of Albion. Peter Molynneux talked about this saying that games like these always end at the best part — the part where you become the ruler — so he wanted to rectify that. As a result Fable III feels like a combination of a typical Fable game and the style of game that Peter Molynneux is well known for, the God game. The third instalment of this franchise carries with it its unique art style and streamlined yet deep gameplay.

The production values of the series have always been very high, and this is also true with Fable III. It features an all-star British voice cast that includes Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross, John Clease, Zoe Wannamaker, Simon Pegg and Sir Ben Kingsley among others. This high production value carries over to the music as well. While most Western fantasy stories these days have epic choral soundtracks in the vein of Lord of the Rings, the Fable series prefers a more subtle approach, opting for a more melodic fairytale feel. To achieve this, Lionhead's sound director Russell Shaw has composed musical scores influenced by the Baroque and Classical eras of music right up to Beethoven. This time around Danny Elfman is absent from the production, but if anything the soundtrack is better for it. Fable III is probably the darkest score yet, but it still has some more light-hearted elements to it. The focus is more on the orchestra this time around and, while there is still a choir involved, it takes more of a backseat role in this soundtrack.


The soundtrack opens with the "Fable III Theme", which is the most intense musical theme of the series yet. Starting off with shimmering strings and an oboe solo, the track then crescendos into the main theme, complete with its fast string passages and epic choir. There is then some tension building music that expands into a sudden frantic passage. This dies down into a slower section where, after the choir hits the listener with "Credo", there is a violin solo in a similar style as a concerto cadenza — music that will be explored in greater detail later on in the soundtrack. The main theme appears at various moments throughout the soundtrack, such as "Music Box", in a similar fashion to Fable II and also in "Brightwall". "Brightwall" is a more woodwind-focused arrangement of the piece, making it feel much lighter hearted than in "Fable III Theme". In fact, it reminds me of "Oakvale" from the original game, because it makes the listener feel at home and safe with this theme playing. However, unlike prior games in the series, Fable III does not rely on its main theme too heavily.

Next up is "A Hero Awakens", which appropriately feels like the beginning of a story involving a hero; this piece gives off the feeling of rising up and training for the treacherous road ahead. The harmony is reminiscent of the main theme at points but doesn't directly quote it. By contrast, "Keyhole" provides us with some eerie tension building music and makes good use of the bass clarinet and dissonant strings. "Fight or Flight" meanwhile is a unique action track that uses instruments and musical devices that are perhaps unexpected in action based music. After an opening that wouldn't be out of place in Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring", it transitions into a very interesting passage that uses complex time signatures, aggressive crescendos and low piano lines. While I like this track, some people may find it a bit too contemporary for their tastes.

One thing that is very impressive about this soundtrack is the variety. "The Dwellers" expands on the violin cadenza introduced in the main theme. In fact, it wouldn't be out of place in an Elgar violin concerto. The solo line is great, though I think it would have been nice to have more variety in the accompaniment, which consists only of long held upper strings chords. "Sabine" provides us with a dark minuet with a difference — the time signature is 7/8, making for an intriguing listen — while "Driftwood" mixes things up even more with an avant-garde synth-based track influenced by Dead Space. For ambient purposes, "Shadelight" is a progressive and dark atmospheric track that starts off with low, quiet shimmering strings, and gradually adds eerie high pitches, and a surprisingly dark sounding xylophone and harp. After the crescendo the music dies down into a creepy backing from the xylophone and harp, then the rest of the orchestra plays a twisted version of the main theme over the top of that. After this we get a choral ending. "Desert" is a typical Arabic track that builds up into a grand string section, before dying down again. The accompaniment is synth-based, which works well.

Despite the Fable series steering away from typical epic fantasy scores, there are still some tracks that fall into that category. "Coronation" is a short epic piece that defiantly wouldn't be out of place in a typical modern film trailer, while "Logan's Trial" is a typical bad guy theme with its low string crescendos. The character themes, while short, provide us with some distinctive character defining musical material. "Elise" is a short string based character theme that conveys the mysterious nature of the character, while "Theresa" conveys a similar feel but with some choral elements added. "Kalin" is another synth-based track, with effects processed vocals over the top, and then progresses into a strings tune. I found the effects processed vocals a bit too over-produced for my liking. Two tracks concerning the character Walter provide also bring emotional weight to the release, as does "Finale", which is a bittersweet track and a nice ending to the soundtrack.

"Reaver's Mansion" is the most unique track in the score. It is a huge medley of famous pieces of classical music, with each different section representing a different part of the mansion. Introduced with a classical guitar solo, the track transitions into something that I've never heard before — a piano and harpsichord duet. This may sound counter-intuitive as the piano was designed to replace the harpsichord due to the more expressive nature of the piano, but it actually works surprisingly well. There are moments where the piano wants to express some quiet dynamics but is drowned out by the harpsichord. However, in general, it creates a really interesting sound that's great to listen to. There are too many pieces quoted here to identify them all, but on listening to it I managed to identify "Greensleeves", Beethoven's "Fur Elise" and some pieces by J.S Bach, including the "Aria" from Goldberg Variations and the "Minuet". There are also quotes of some of the music from Fable II, such as the main theme and "Fairfax Castle".

There are still a few disappointing tracks in the mix. "Escape" starts off great, with some intense action music, but it never develops beyond adding a few woodwind flourishes, which is a shame because it could have built up to an awesome climax. Alas, the only real development in the piece is the progression from compound time 9/8 to simple time 3/4. "Sanctuary" is another synth-based track, which is interesting at first but doesn't have much beyond simple chords and arpeggios. "Reliquary" is a track consisting entirely of a bass drone and mysterious choral lines, which many will probably find to be too repetitive.


I feel that Fable III is the best soundtrack of the series so far. The musical identity of the Fable series has always been unique, but this time round there's more variety and substance than in the first two games, and less repetition too. I think the games industry, particularly in the Western market, needs more lighter-hearted games and soundtracks like this. As pointed out, there are moments I've identified where I think improvement could be made, but they aren't major gripes, just me nit-picking a bit. Overall it's a great listen and brings good prospects for the future of this series with it.

Overall Score: 8/10