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Sable is a new game that has been released for the PlayStation 4. It is a gorgeously barren game, with stunning visuals and an interesting story to tell.
Sable is a game about self-discovery that serves as an interactive journey to represent the protagonist’s physical development. It’s all done without the typical “coming of age” clichés, and developer Shedworks’ use of open-world exploration and a minimalistic design philosophy is to be commended.
Sable, however, isn’t as big an attempt as it might have been, collapsing under the weight of fetch quests and a barren, though gorgeous, environment.
Review of Sable: Beautifully Barren
Sable tells the tale of a little girl called Sable who lives in Midden, a sand-covered country. Her initial appearance is at a temple, where she seems to be pondering her position among her tribe. She’s about to go on The Gliding, a rite of passage in which youngsters become nomadic Gliders who leave their families to travel the globe on their own. She’s apprehensive about the procedure.
Sable’s worries are largely allayed by her elders, which is only seen via writing since her face is covered beneath a mask, a traditional garment that depicts one’s life path. The elders describe how her leaving her family to travel the globe would mold her into the person she’s meant to be, culminating in the finding of her permanent adult mask.
Before Sable is allowed to leave the nest, she must first complete a short lesson teaching the fundamentals of play, such as how to climb objects and glide over the sand on a hoverbike. It is up to the player to decide where she travels from here; an elder offers information on an initial location of interest, but there are no story-based beacons to follow. From the start of Sable’s adventure, the whole globe is more or less accessible.
Because players have complete control over the game, the free-form gameplay is fascinating. Of course, there are mechanisms in place to assist Sable learn about the many groups of people on Midden, as well as the world’s numerous masks and how they represent a particular group’s fundamental beliefs. While there are narrative nudges that thematically customize an experience here and there, Sable does not provide a fixed route.
This implies that everyone’s trip through Midden will most likely be unique. Here, there will be no shared water cooler moments. Things are a little more intimate now. Sable’s attitude to everything will be determined by what matters to you when playing through Sable. You could roam all across Midden, engaging with everyone you come across. Alternatively, you may finish the game “early” after you’ve completed Sable’s main objective and are completely pleased with how things turned out.
This open-ended gameplay allows you to connect with Sable in a variety of ways, with the idea of self-discovery via the development of personal values possibly connecting with almost everyone. Regrettably, the actions required to establish such a relationship are hampered by monotonous activities and a largely barren environment.
Gliding about on Sable’s bike was first fun. I loved meeting new people and assisting them in solving issues; I also enjoyed learning about Midden’s diverse cultures and how they influence how each group sees the others.
My pleasure began to fade after a couple hours or so. It became apparent that the majority of the duties assigned to Sable are just variants of the same fetch quests. Come return after grabbing this item. Rinse and repeat as needed.
There are a few noteworthy jobs, such as tracking down the person responsible for stealing a town’s power core, leaving the residents powerless in the face of price gouging by merchants. However, I spent the most of my time gathering other items as well as reward badges that ultimately unlocked various masks.
I was amassing items for the sake of amassing them.
To be fair, Sable’s mask collection is essential to her growth; they offer additional choices after you reach the conclusion of your trip. It’s simply that boredom creeps so quickly.
This is exacerbated by Sable’s world’s barrenness. In principle, Midden is ripe for investigation. There are ancient ruins, abandoned ships that serve as mini-dungeons, and huge temples partly buried by sand. The challenges are environmental in nature, forcing you to balance Sable’s stamina as she climbs atop buildings or utilizes her Glide Stone to glide over broken ground, which is a lot of fun.
However, these places don’t have anything to offer. The majority of missions take you to locations that are far distant from a certain NPC. You’ll pass through numerous sand dunes and strange buildings along the route, but none of them are worth noting. A few pieces of metal to sell, some coins to exchange, cosmetics, perhaps a tidbit of knowledge every now and again. Nothing significant.
There are no opponents (or other hazards) to deal with, and the information discovered in these places typically simply directs you to another building farther away.
The prevalence of irritating bugs exacerbates the frequent excursions around Sable’s map, which are partly mitigated by a handy quick transit mechanism. Certain, such as speed difficulties/stuttering and some minor UI bugs, are known to the developer. Others, such as missing quest items that need a restart, are more difficult to deal with. The game even failed a few times when I was attempting to complete a problem or traveling to a destination.
Nonetheless, I continued gliding about, thanks in part to the breathtaking vistas. Sable is rich of pastel hues and bold line work, evoking vintage hand-drawn animated flicks such as Fire and Ice (1983). You can tell a lot went into Sable’s beautiful aesthetics by the way the color pallet changes in line with the sun’s rays, allowing for bright tones during the day and subdued colors that contrast the night’s sky.
Review of Sable – The Bottom Line
- A good starting point
- Exploration in a free, open-world environment
- Fantastic Visuals
- Side missions that are tedious and repetitive
- a desolate planet
- The encounter was a little shaky.
Sable’s concept is intriguing, though not completely original. Its simple gameplay lends itself to a more personal experience at times. Unfortunately, Sable’s desolate environment belies the game’s focus on exploration, so the simplicity cuts both ways.
Everyone’s mileage will be different. It is up to the player how much time they spend in the desert before reaching the finish. And, if the ruins and legends are any indication, there may be even more to see and do. Despite the stunning graphics, I didn’t feel motivated to continue Sable’s journey after around seven hours of gameplay.
I didn’t return after the credits rolled because of the repetitious missions, huge periods of emptiness, and the odd glitch.[Note: The copy of Sable used for this review was supplied by Raw Fury.]
Raw fury is the name of a new Sable-based game that has been released on Steam. It’s a beautifully barren game, with an emphasis on skill and agility over firepower. Reference: raw fury sable.
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