In a typical open world game, the environment is littered with content, populated with interesting side quests, and full of breathtaking sights, but an overarching, unique goal remains. Whatever the job, getting around the world and helping locals often requires moving away from your primary purpose. Sable is refreshing in that regard. This expedition allowed me to get lost in the little details, talk to different characters, enjoy the experience and admire the sights.
My hike into the desert is a rite of passage called gliding, during which I have to leave my clan to roam the world and collect masks. I can return home when I feel I’ve traveled enough and choose a mask that represents my adult identity. While they lack voices, Sable’s characters aren’t lacking in personality. When maternal Jadi urges me to take the time to appreciate the trip, her worry makes leaving the clan bittersweet.
When I go, my first foray into the bigger world is extraordinarily captivating. A huge, pathless landscape opens before me as a solemn Japanese breakfast song sounds. The moment skillfully reproduces the thrill and fear Sable feels thanks to her newfound independence. Fortunately, the clever level design prevents players from wandering aimlessly by placing key locations in hard-to-miss spots, and soon I’ll be ready to hunt masks.
To collect the most masks, take three badges to a mysterious mask maker. The missions that these tokens reward are usually short and in some cases simple fetch quests. For example, on the hunt for Hercules Beetle Mask badges, one task leads me to literally scare away bugs – apparently it’s an excellent fertilizer. In a slightly higher quest with the Guard’s Mask, I received a badge for climbing the Bridge of the Betrayed with the impressive name and meeting a character who was investigating his own identity. Although none of the missions are mechanically complex, I appreciate the narrative variety and how the quests inspire me to travel to the end of the map. As someone excitedly following side content in most games, Sable’s exploratory, non-combat gameplay is fantastic.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that my travels have taken me through absolutely breathtaking surroundings. The art is almost simple, but its vibrancy is amazing. Some can be thrown off by the main character’s sprinting, intentionally running at 12 fps, while the rest of the world is aiming for 60 fps. However, I appreciated this contrast because it accentuates the animation, like a painting that emphasizes its brushstrokes. There is so much life in Sables Visuals. The sand glows under the sunrise and the stars glow when all the colors of the desert fade into the night. The landscape is full of jungle gyms, and these alluring locations often hide valuables, whether it’s a unique piece of clothing, a useful collectible to increase stamina, or an unexpected character interaction. My curiosity was constantly rewarded.
Sable’s exploration remains engaging thanks to his gentle, endurance-dependent climb, which allows me to tackle simple environmental puzzles – like plugging in a power supply to open doors in a long-abandoned spaceship. The sliding stone artifact envelops Sable in a protective bubble that allows her to slowly float towards the ground, protecting her from fall damage. This mechanic challenged me to climb great heights. Whether climbing an obstacle or gliding in the wind, the exploration was entertaining.
My favorite means of transport is undoubtedly the hoverbike. As I drove the customizable, futuristic vehicle across the parched expanse of the game, I could almost feel the wind in my hair. Many settlements have dealerships selling unique parts that I could mix and match to make the bike my own. The scene where I worked with my clan’s machinist to assemble my speeder was an excellent example of how the culture respects technology on an almost spiritual level, but without overwhelming me with exposures. This introduction established a connection between my bike and me, which helped me to forgive the repeated times that the speeder didn’t answer my call because the AI was unable to overcome various obstacles. Most of the time I solved this problem by quickly traveling to an already discovered nearby location that teleported me and my machine to the same location. It’s a bit awkward, but it never took more than a few seconds from the action.
Sable ends exactly as it begins at home with the family. The narrative payoff isn’t really about your final choice, and that can lead more goal-oriented players in the wrong direction. However, I found the ending a fitting ending to an exploration game full of side quests. For those who love exploring, I cannot recommend Sable enough. Every element – beautiful graphics, addicting traversal, and player-controlled storyline – work together to ensure that I just get lost in the world.
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