So much of Sable can be boiled down to gliding and climbing. It’s much more than that; you’re in pursuit of purpose; As I played it, it sparked moments of self-reflection. Sable sets out on her gliding, which is a sort of extended internship. She meets all different types of doers and thinkers. I’ll be remembering Sable’s dunes tinted by the time of day and the somber sweet soundtrack well beyond its release.
Let’s get two things out of the way. Sable features some incredible visuals. I was thankful to see a visual setting option that let me tweak how the day/night cycle affects the art. Smooth transitions and pop-ins aside I found myself in awe as I looked across or upward. A different region might also color the sky differently. A photo mode is dearly missed.
Each region in Sable felt unique and carefully crafted. I was mining a mountain engulfed in an electric storm. A bright yellow sky lit up as I was dashing to collect fragile crystals. I never once grew tired of the landscapes. Variety with a purpose that never felt soulless.
Alongside those lush landscapes, Sable has an incredible soundtrack. There’s tracks that sound as if the environment created the melody through to futuristic beats. Sable’s music is well crafted at setting the mood for what’s currently on the screen. Go listen to the cartographer’s theme and you’ll visualize close to what I actually played. A wispy, quirky crew of map makers scattered through each region, high above the sky.
Sable is a collect-a-thon for the ages. Your goal is to collect several different masks. In order to do that you collect pins. These pins are rewarded for, you guessed it, collecting something for someone. The journey of it all is what made collecting so rewarding. I was scaling ruined starships or jumping from the right height. There’s no novelty mechanics here, just great delivery.
I might’ve missed a quip or a dialog box about this but Sable does have quick travel, thankfully. After a lengthy collecting journey I sometimes just wanted to get back to where I needed to turn in the quest. It also does help with soft resetting your bike if ever it’s too far from you or bugged out.
Simoon is a close second for my favorite character in Sable. Simoon is the named and very real bike that you ride across the dunes. Throughout we see Sable characterize and describe what Simoon means to her. I would’ve loved to have seen a bit more moments of Sable and Simoon interacting.
The writing in Sable was enjoyably descriptive. Each character that interacted with Sable had something to say either internally or directly. Everyone you meet is wearing some sort of mask or face covering and I like how Sable would try to peek through their facial expression. The writing is so expressive and easy to digest that it won’t feel like a burden.
It was relaxing to jump on Simoon to get to the next story beat. As I was riding I would stop for screenshots or be distracted by some collectable. I was living in the moment within Sable. Which happens to be one of the themes. Experience life until your passion awakens until then ride into the sunset.
Something strange that happened was the more I played Sable the buggier it became. Not just in one sitting but even after turning off the console and coming back to it. As I write this there’s been multiple updates after launch that are supposed to iron things out. Although performance was frustrating my overall enjoyment in Sable outweighed any complaints.
One puzzle that broke is part of a big side quest. Throughout Sable’s sands you’ll notice these enormous spaceships. The goal is the same for each ship wherein you redirect power using batteries. The batteries became the problem. I had one instance of losing a battery—as if someone yanked it out of the game world. In order to progress I had to clip an unintended battery through the wall.
Each time I put Sable down I couldn’t wait to get back to it. As I got closer to the end I was thinking about what mask to choose. From start to finish I was hooked. I’m eager to jump back in and tread back to try if some structures are unclimbable. Embrace Sable’s sandstorm of thoughtful writing, somber sounds, and unique visual splendor.
Sable is available now on Xbox Series X|S, and PC.