Sable was one of the many games on my four-digit-sized wishlist on Steam. Then a dear friend of mine grabbed a copy and we talked a bit about its premise and art style…and I was instantly very sorry it had sat on my wishlist for so long. A quick purchase (and then several hours of play) later and I am very, very hooked.
If you’re not familiar with it, Sable is set in a sprawling desert of an open world, dotted with pockets of civilization and crashed spaceships (it was inspired by the desert environments Rey starts her journey in during The Force Awakens). It features that old, abandoned sci-fi tech vibe that’s drawn me to various post-civilization works like Horizon. The world is explained (thus far at least) just enough for you to get a sense of what might’ve happened, but you’re largely just wandering through echoes of the past and serene landscapes very reminiscent of Moebius.
It’s got a nice Breath of the Wild quality to it, just a bit more downtempo and chill, with a refreshing absence of violence and conflict. The result is that I spend more time in a bit of a vibey flow state, letting the sci-fi vistas wash over me without the disruptive mandate to swing a sword or shoot a gun. As Sable, a character going through a rite of passage that amounts to “go out and see the world,” folks have dozens of little tasks for you to do. But unlike other open worlds where such a structure feels pretty contrived and overly convenient, it’s contextualized in this world pretty well. Characters like Sable are understood to have a lot of time on their hands—and her neat ability to hover through the air (think Link’s paraglider) allows her to explore areas that many normal folks simply can’t.
It pops to life on the Steam Deck OLED, which is nice as it doesn’t exist on the Switch, making the Steam Deck (and alternatives to it) Sable’s go-to place for portable play.
If I’m being critical, the soundtrack, though very, very beautiful, does feature pianos and guitars…which take my mind to our contemporary reality, not an alien, desert landscape where I’d prefer to hear things that I can’t connect to understandable instruments. But the visuals and the vibes mean that I’m usually not bothered by it—and really, this isn’t an issue any normal person should have.
— Claire Jackson