Rarely does the phrase comfortably boring seem to be an apt description for anything. However, in the case of “Sable,” the term is highly fitting.
By no means does this mean that the game is terrible or the boredom detrimental. It’s more akin to a lazy and pleasant Saturday afternoon.
“Sable” is an open-world exploration game developed by UK-based Shedworks, which features the main character undertaking her right of passage into the wider world. The purpose is to find a mask that denotes one’s profession and way of life within “Sable’s” world, Midden. Despite collecting over a dozen masks, players must ultimately choose one.
The game is a coming-of-age story that explores someone crossing the threshold of youth and entering adulthood. There isn’t much of a story in a defined sense.
Instead, the game focuses on other desert-dwellers’ bizarre and amusingly mundane tasks, ranging from collecting beetle dung to exploring ancient ruins searching for artifacts from an ancient civilization.
Whether it’s wandering the streets of a city that’s teeming with life or exploring the insides of old spaceships that have long since crashed on the planet, “Sable ” strives to keep the player intrigued simply by the strength of its worldbuilding and presentation alone.
This story is all aided by a soundtrack composed by Japanese Breakfast, mainly consisting of enchanting and bouncy tracks reminiscent of the lighthearted journey in the game.
The majority of the game consists of exploring the vast world with the aid of several tools; the player’s bike, Simoon and the Gliding stone, an artifact that enables the player to glide through the air in a ball of red and yellow.
The player spends most of the game piloting Simoon across the expansive, highly stylized desert and acquiring masks. The player must earn three badges from those who already wear a particular mask to do so.
Earning these badges requires doing various tasks and odd jobs, or in some cases, simply buying them. After three badges, the player takes them to a Mask Caster, who will give the mask in exchange for the badges.
There is no real mechanical challenge in the gameplay, merely the thrill of exploration taking center stage in a world that feels both alien and comforting, much like its inhabitants.
The other desert-dwellers the player encounters share this quirky nature, their idiosyncrasies bringing patches of fun between the solitary exploration of the bulk of the game. Their eccentric natures bring as much character to the world as the striking visuals do.
The occasional bugs that the player encounters mostly centers around the path Simoon travels when called to the player or the stuttering of frames in some regions of the vast deserts.
It invites the player to explore every nook and cranny and immerse themself in both the mundane and fascinating day-to-day experiences of traveling the world and discovering one’s calling in life, regardless of what shape it comes in.