In the land of Midden, teens participate in a rite of passage known as The Gliding. It is essentially a self-discovery adventure where gliders explore the bigger world to find their place. Here, players take on the role of Sable as she prepares for her own gliding.
The first hour or so of the game allows you to meet the Sable Tribe. This is an essential part of the game that acts as a tutorial and is one of the only mandatory sections. Here you can take on basic quests and simple puzzles.
The result of the opening leaves you with two important things for your impending trip The result of the opening leaves you with three important things for your impending trip. The first is a compass that helps you find your way. The second is a sliding stone that allows Sable to float in the air. Finally, after finding and assembling the parts, you also get your very own hoverbike, Simoon.
When you leave the house, your tribe also leaves and you find yourself very lonely. Sand is an open world adventure that really gives you a lot of freedom. The world of Midden is divided into different areas, but where you go and what you do is completely up to you. If you want to reduce the time spent traveling, you can use a fast and convenient travel option. I would much rather ignore it and find my own way.
Simoon is somewhat reminiscent of a Star Wars pod racer. It’s a bit awkward to control but that only adds to its charm. Walking around the landscape is strangely addicting and quite relaxing. At any time you can disembark and explore on foot. If you forget where you last left it, you can call and Simoon will do their best to come to you.
However, it is not always as easy as you would like it to be. This is because there are a lot of obstacles around and a lot of the game requires you to climb. Sable is able to climb just about any surface and is only limited by his stamina. This means that you have to be careful where you climb or you will tire and fall. Fortunately, you can still make yourself safe.
In fact, the game is very forgiving and does not impose any type of fall damage. There’s also no fighting to master, no boss fights or even death. This lets you experience Sable’s journey. As you travel the world, there are a lot of camps to discover which are filled with interesting characters. Here you can talk to whoever you love and everyone you meet on your travels is well written. Some characters have interesting information while others have quests available if you want to take them on.
The quests are varied and usually involve traveling to a specific location to do something. Many are traditional recovery quest types, but some are quite unique. There is usually a mix of working out where to go, jumping, climbing and sliding as well as light puzzle elements.
In addition to quests, each area has a cartographer to find out who can sell you a map. These still require a lot of climbing and getting their maps makes it a bit easier to orient themselves. The landscapes are also littered with the remains of crushed spaceships that hold secrets to be discovered.
One of Sable’s main goals is to determine who you want to be. This is done by earning different types of badges. When you get three badges of the same type, you can forge them into a mask. When you are happy that you have collected the mask you want, you can return to your tribe. This means that you can complete the game in a matter of hours or push to find out everything. In my game, I passed the 10 hour mark, but I can’t wait to come back to see the things I missed.
Visually Sable is an absolute pleasure to watch. It uses a cell-shaded aesthetic reminiscent of the sci-fi and fantasy works of Jean “Moebius” Giraud. This gives the game a nice cartoon anime look that constantly changes color in sync with the time of day. Audio is also worth mentioning with a stunning soundtrack from indie rock band Japanese Breakfast.
As much as I enjoyed Sable, I encountered quite a few bugs in my time with the game. Most of them weren’t particularly serious and will likely be improved with a few fixes. As I moved around the landscape, I often saw objects that should be on the ground and floating in the air. Another odd one that I have encountered on a number of occasions would highlight plants as people you can talk to. Trying to talk to them would make them disappear.
The camera can be a bit boring and will go through objects and the landscape often. It is also often obscured by dust thrown by Simoon, but this may be due to its design. More serious bugs I encountered included the disappearance of Simoon and the UI denying the game ball at trading posts. Restarting the game was necessary to resolve these issues, but I never lost the progress. I also managed to corner Simoon in a cave on a quest by entering in a way the game didn’t expect. Saving Simoon forced me to figure out what the game wanted me to do in the first place.
Overall, I absolutely loved my time with Sable. I liked that he does things his own way and gives the players freedom. It’s actually an incredibly relaxing game and I found myself happy enough to mindlessly explore the beautiful surroundings on my hoverbike while listening to the soundtrack. Sable is an impressive start for developer Shedworks and I can’t wait to see what they’ll be working on next.
Sand has been reviewed using a numeric code provided by the publisher.
Editor: Raw fury Developer: Hangars Release date: September 23, 2021 Revised on: PC / Steam Also available on: Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass