Joystiq review: Fable 2's Knothole Island (DLC)

There's a man waiting for you at the Bowerstone docks. He's eager to stick you into his aquatic taxi and drop you off on the shores of Knothole Island. Like most helpful RPG citizens, he's been roped into a fetch quest: Find a hero and bring him or her back to the island community, which currently finds itself immobilized by frigid weather. At least, that's what you gather from the chief's note, gracelessly read to you word for word. Whether intentional or not, the sequence works as a cheeky parody of the add-on's Xbox Live Marketplace description.

Is it worth the $10 asking price? Well, the truth is that your feelings on the main game will have already pushed you to the brink of a decision, and you just want us to push you that little bit further. We can tell you that everything you love (or loathe) about Fable 2 is on Knothole Island: the unwaveringly witty writing; the real estate opportunities; the charming townsfolk; and treasure. Oh, the treasure.
Some you'll find in the new speciality stores -- like the "Box of Secrets," which grants you rare, mystery items in exchange for mainland goods -- and some you'll find in each of the island's three dungeons. The island itself, which stands out as one of Albion's most gorgeous environments, is also littered with buried items and chests, some of which are only accessible in certain weather. There's really an awful lot of things to drink, wear, swing, sell and shoot.

This vibrant new piece of Albion also has its share of quests, three of them explicit and two aimed at people (like us) obsessed with finding every last cool item. Oddly, our main disappointment lies with the three "real" quests. They all share the same structure and are, unfortunately, devoid of the charm and characters that made the sidequests so enjoyable in the main game. While the meteorological meddling plays to Fable's strengths (your actions visibly affect the world), the dungeons themselves are a bit too straightforward and rote. Lionhead, we never want to see a flit switch again. Ever.

This is really more of a problem if you've already completed the game, we suspect. If you were to visit Knothole in the middle of your main adventure (and you can), the tasks and combat challenges would probably feel quite a bit more substantial. As a post-game piece of content, however, some of your actions lose weight. This is particularly obvious when a character tempts you down the "evil" path with 10,000 gold. That's almost certainly a picayune payment to anybody who's completed the main quest, and it weakens the moral dilemma you'll face after three to four hours.

Though the central quests failed to blow us away (that's a weather joke, right?), Knothole Island fits perfectly into Albion. Even now, it continues to lure us back with fun potions, rare weapons, undiscovered dig spots and the strangest looking bard in the entire game. He looks positively spoony.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.