Sable’s minimalistic approach is either going to fascinate or bore you. You’ll either love the unique art style or crave more full-bodied visuals. It features an open world with no particular path, no health bar, and no enemies. Although Sable isn’t a traditional adventure, it gives complete control to the player. It’s a cathartic journey to the far reaches of an empty desert. You are free to go wherever you want and do whatever you want. Its zen-like appeal is miles away from familiar titles like Breath of the Wild, and that’s why I loved it so much.
Sable: A gorgeous world
You play the part of Sable, an adolescent embarking on the Gliding – a journey into adulthood that everyone must undertake as they wave goodbye to their youth. By travelling across Midden and meeting tons of interesting characters, Sable steps away from her childhood, and you get to experience it in a way that never grows old. There’s a clear parallel in its style to French cartoonist Jean Giraud AKA Moebius, Sable is stunning. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before, and consistently impressed me throughout.
Part of what makes Sable so liberating is travelling across the baron deserts on a hoverbike. The enitre game reminded me of Rey’s escapades in Jakku at the start of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Like Rey, Sable explores caves, towns, and every nook and cranny without any interruptions. She is a free spirit, and without any enemies to fight or threats to face, it provides a welcome freedom you don’t often get in open world titles. A lot of Midden is covered in sand. Long stretches of dunes need to be traversed, and having your faithful bike makes it so much easier.
One girl and her bike
It takes a bit getting used to controlling it, but after a while you’ll get to grips with the intentionally rusty controls. Sable can also switch to strafing, but I barely used it. Throughout the interesting landscapes, I found alien architecture and crashed spaceships – mysteries once buried in the past. Despite spending hours investigating the planet of Midden, there is an objective to it all. Sable must gather specialist badges from quest givers that help her realise who she wants to be. After finding three of them, she can take them to a Mask Caster who will give her a mask based on the speciality.
Quests can include anything from collecting beetles and bike parts to completing puzzles inside crashed ships and observatories. They’re varied enough to keep you interested, and also straightforward enough for you to not get stuck. Sable doesn’t want you to trip over every hurdle. Instead, it wants you to learn, to become immersed, to progress. Thankfully, the gameplay isn’t particularly difficult. You can use your hoverbike to travel; glide through the air inside an orange orb that never breaks no matter how high up your flying; and climb with a stamina mechanic seen in Breath of the Wild.
Sable: Fantastic characters
As a character, Sable is sweet and kind, with a great sense of humour. She’s an interesting soul with a personality that builds with every conversation or thought you read as she realises who she wants to be. It always helps when you can connect with a protagonist. There’s no speech or voice-acting. Conversations play out in text form. Although you don’t get to hear any of the masked characters or read their facial cues, the writing is so good it doesn’t matter. Sable is such an engrossing story that I couldn’t wait to meet the next stranger.
Sable is unique in its art style. It doesn’t throw you into a fight. There’re no threats or enemies. Instead, you’re given a blank canvas in which to create your own story. The camera can be awkward at times, and some of the controls are a tad clunky, but I fell deeply in love with the story. As mentioned at the very beginning, you’ll either appreciate what Sable tries to do, or find it dull. I really enjoyed my time exploring the world that Shedworks has created, and I’ll miss my time with Sable and the wonderful characters she met along the way.
Beautiful art style
Great sense of freedom
Awkward camera angles at times
Not particularly challenging