“So tell me, what are you willing to sacrifice to do the right thing?”
—King Logan, Fable III
This is definitely one of my all-time favorite gaming quotes, mostly in that there are so many ways it can be advice in everyday life. But keeping with the mechanics of the video game it came from, it serves as a great introduction to the game’s light side/dark side idea, something that plays on the moral psych in a way that I have never seen in any other RPG game I have played before.
In Fable III, we play as the Hero Prince/Princess, who must make one of the most difficult decisions in the history of gaming almost immediately into the game’s introduction. King Logan, our Hero’s brother, allows his younger sibling the choice of either punishing the protesting leaders outside the castle, or the Hero’s significant other and best friend. The punishment: death. To make the decision even trickier, there is a time limit; if the player does not choose who dies in time, both parties are executed.
Quite a… heavy way to start a game, eh?
It is here in this moment when Logan asks, “what are you willing to sacrifice to do the right thing?” And in this moment comes the catch as well.
Neither are considered right or wrong in this game. Which is interesting, as one would assume that immediately after he says this, there would be a right and wrong sacrifice right? I know I had to play this game at least twice to fully understand what Logan meant.
Let us assume that our Hero decides to go the morally “good” direction throughout the game. Such would include refusing money when offered, handing out free rent, giving money to the poor, and helping the citizens of Albion out of the goodness of their heart. Fast forward to the midway point, when they win the revolution and overthrow King Logan to take the throne: they realize that they need an army to counter the coming “Darkness” that will plague the country in five years time. They need money to build this army. The money that our Hero did not make.
That’s okay, there are those in the kingdom who can help wrack up quick money and the country will be okay, right? There is the great businessman Reaver, who the Hero will strike up many deals with in order to gain money, all for the greater good of course. Deals that include destroying landmarks for oil, enforcing child labor, raising taxes, and breaking promises made to the people.
The people in turn, should understand that there is a greater evil to fight. Their individual problems can be put on hold until the five years of preparation are up, and they will definitely thank the Hero eventually when they are all alive in the end. That is the assumption, anyway.
Soon enough, the Hero is hailed a tyrant King/Queen, the very thing they promised to replace after the fall of Logan. But through the war, everyone in the kingdom survives. Everything, but the love, respect, and promises made during the revolution. They are alive, but no one is happy. No one is grateful. This was not the ruler they wanted, but the same one they had in the first place.
And so King Logan’s words repeat in our minds: “What are you willing to sacrifice to do the right thing?”
Fable III may have some flaws in its gameplay, but the storyline and decision-making definitely make up for it. The interesting government mechanics make this game nearly impossible to finish while staying completely on the good path.
Then, there is the most important thing to take out of the game. The question on everyone’s mind: What really is the “right thing” to do?