Sable Review

Imagine a stripped-down version of The Legend of Zelda : Breath of the Wild, but without the enemies, combat, or health bars. It’s still possible to climb every hill in sight, delve into every cave to find hidden objects and discover new locations. There are even dungeons to some extent–areas that must be investigated to complete objectives or retrieve items. This is essentially Sable, a light-hearted and engaging open-world adventure game developed by Raw Fury.

Combining the zen serenity of games like Alto’s Adventure with Team Ico’s ability to create atmosphere and mystery, Sable is a game for players who like to run away and explore any striking feature in the landscape, like uncovering the map as a whole , or feel compelled to check every nook and cranny just to satisfy it. The creation of Raw Fury offers a peaceful adventure that isn’t lacking in fun or depth. There are quests to do, stories to unravel, and environmental puzzles to solve, but no danger stands in the way of progress.

Players take on the role of the eponymous Sable, a young girl on her journey to adulthood known as Gliding. On the planet Midden, all inhabitants wear masks to designate their chosen path in life, be it a trader, guard, artist or mechanic. But that choice represents more than a career; it defines who the person is. With the children wearing humble masks until they board Gliding, a terrified but excited Sable must leave her family behind for an indeterminate amount of time, meeting various characters along the way. She’ll venture into crashed spaceships, scale sheer cliffs, and investigate mysterious ruins scattered across the land.

sable  running  outside  rundown  hangar Sable himself is a likable protagonist with a sometimes sarcastic sense of humor and a kind heart. Through dialogue that often reveals Sable’s inner thoughts, players learn about her hopes, fears, and insecurities. She’s gracious, and like many people she meets throughout the game, begins to feel like more than just a video game character spitting out programmed lines.

As she travels from village to village, and monument to monument, Sable meets specialists who give her badges upon successful completion of tasks. Once she has collected three badges of the same type, she can trade them to the mask caster, who will give her a mask in return. In this way, Sable will experience the different careers she can pursue, helping her decide who she will be after Gliding. She’s also gained the ability to drift in a sort of magical anti-gravity bubble, which, combined with her inhuman climbing abilities, forms an integral part of the gameplay.

On the day Sable begins her journey, she receives a hoverbike, which (sometimes) appears at the whistle and serves as her primary means of transportation across the vast lands of Midden. One of the highlights of this indie game is its customization. Not only are there a variety of costumes and masks to earn or buy in-game, but Sable’s bike also has plenty of upgrades, and hunting these down is a very rewarding part of the game. While changing clothes can only make a cosmetic difference, changing parts on a hoverbike can affect its speed, acceleration or handling.

sable  rides  hoverbike After finishing the prologue, Sable gets on her bike and the vast world of the game unfolds in front of her in a poignant way, not unlike The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion or watch the whole of Midgar This is Final Fantasy 7 for the first time. This moment is accompanied by a catchy track by indie rock band Japanese Breakfast, who manage to send the player on an enjoyable adventure.

Playing Sable is like browsing a graphic novel, and the visuals are easily one of the game’s strongest points. It’s a fantastic world, albeit rather empty, that players find themselves exploring. There are vast windswept sand dunes, deserts overgrown with cacti and exotic plants, and towering mesas and columns. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the brightly colored games shown in screenshots online don’t exactly reflect how the game will look. Sable has a day-night cycle, and about two-thirds of the time it appears to be at some point in the night. Without daylight, the game’s colors are muted and grayed out, and much of the game will be played with a less vibrant color palette. Perhaps that’s intentional, though, as it makes brief interludes of bright color more welcome, and the Sable does look pleasing during the day.

sable  game  chum  layer In addition to the game’s many advantages, Sable unfortunately suffers from some technical issues. None are major or game-breaking, but the bugs are so numerous and persistent that they inevitably mar the overall impression the game leaves. Sable could benefit from another few weeks of bug fixing and polishing.

There are too many issues to list here, and while they don’t happen very often, most of them are encountered more than once within the first 10 hours of playing the game. Button hints randomly stop showing, so it’s not always obvious when an object can be interacted with. HUD elements such as autosave and quest icons stop appearing for a few minutes and then reappear for no reason. Menus freeze and no longer respond to input, whether using a controller or keyboard. Sometimes this resolves itself; twice had to quit the game to restore functionality. This is one of several potentially related issues involving in-game menus.

sable  running  toward  sunrise Several times after being summoned, Sable’s hoverbike gets stuck in the ground or inside walls. At one point, it even got stuck on a ridge and spun up and down for a full 20 seconds. And that’s not even getting into the more trivial issues like flickering textures, people constantly walking around in place, cameras going through walls and ceilings, lack of collision on objects, or Sable occasionally getting stuck because of it. While not everyone is bothered by spelling mistakes or punctuation errors, these errors occur often enough to distract players who notice such things.

These issues are unfortunate, as Sable is an excellent game and usually warrants a higher rating. But these problems, while mostly minor, are encountered with such high frequency that they cannot be ignored. Here’s hoping Raw Fury fixes these issues quickly, because without these flaws, Sable is indeed a beautiful and minimalist open-world journey that’s a joy to explore.

Sable is available on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. Game Rant obtained the Steam code for this review.

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