Sanabi review

by on December 14, 2023
Reviewed On
Also Tested On
Release Date

November 9, 2023


The movement of the protagonist in a video game can make or break the experience for me. Crisp, tight controls are so important in a lot of games, but 2D platformers are probably the genre that needs them the most. There aren’t a lot of games that make you feel as good getting around as Sanabi does, and it also manages to tell an incredibly emotional story while doing so.

The protagonist of Sanabi is a retired military commander, who after a life full of violence and combat is ready to settle down with his adorable little girl. Living in the middle of nowhere and playing make believe games with his daughter is as idyllic and heart warming as it sounds, but it unfortunately doesn’t last. A particularly intense incident drags our hero back into the life he left behind, with vengeance on the mind and a world to save.

A screenshot of Sanabi

It was Sanabi that ruined his near perfect life, who is a mysterious entity that seems to have near infinite power and has taken over the bustling metropolis of Mago City. All the citizens of Mago City have vanished entirely, and with no intel more than that you’re tasked with dropping in on a chopper and figuring out what’s going on. The story is packed full of mystery and intrigue from the get go, and doesn’t let up.

Once you get on the ground and swing past a few robot baddies you meet a hacker called Mari, who has survived in this harsh environment using her technical know-how and robot buddy. The protagonist starts very cold and distant to Mari, but getting to see their relationship grow as they work together to fix the mess of a city and take on Sanabi is really wonderful.

As good as the story is, the main attraction of Sanabi is the grappling gameplay. You get around the hazardous crumbling environments by pointing your grappling glove at any viable surface and swinging around it, with the ability to use a boost ability to increase your momentum and fly off in any direction you want. It’s hard to put into words quite how good this feels as a way to get around, and when you master it you feel like a grappling god.

A screenshot of Sanabi

This is the movement at its most basic level though, because thanks to how you deal with enemies they also help you get around too. Your only real way of attacking most foes in Sanabi is to grapple straight into them, which kills them instantly and allows you to boost off in any direction. Nothing is more satisfying than swinging around the environment and smashing your way through enemies on the way to your objective, and that happens pretty consistently throughout the game.

It’s easy to imagine this awesome loop getting a little stale if that was all Sanabi had to offer, but there’s a lot of variety in the way you swing around. A lot of areas have either walls you can’t attach yourself to and walls and floors that will damage you on touch. There are also things like moving platforms, cranes you can swing on and doors that block progress unless you kill all the enemies, and that’s only in the first few hours of playing.

The enemy variety is just as impressive as the level variety too, with all sorts of robotic foes you’ll need to deal with. Basic enemies fire bullets and get dealt with easily, but there are some enemies you have to attack from a certain position to deal with, and even some massive boss fights that’ll really test your skill and often your patience.

A screenshot of Sanabi

Sanabi is a fantastic game and one I’d really recommend to fans of action platformers, but it has one big issue that I really struggled with – pacing. The game constantly interrupts the high octane grappling gameplay with really long story sections, which often involve you walking at a snail’s pace from one side of the screen to the other, and it’s just so painful. The story is great too, but just constantly being stopped from swinging around to watch it play out for ten to fifteen minutes really ruins the flow of the game.

Sanabi is a wonderful 2D action platformer, with glorious grappling motion and a whole lot of heart. The story is so much better and more emotional than I was expecting too, although admittedly does interrupt the action too frequently. If, like me, you crave that perfect locomotion in your platformers, then Sanabi is a game you cannot sleep on.


Fantastic movement
Enemies work perfectly with the platforming
A great story
Lots of variety


The lengthy story sections really slow the pace

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Sanabi is a wonderful action platformer with great grappling gameplay, but the pacing struggles thanks to the lengthy story sections.