Sable, the fabled glider of the sands
It’s a very important day for Sable — the day of her Gliding has arrived. Jadi, Halil, and the others in the Ibexii camp are being pretty mum about the entire experience, but Sable knows that it’ll be the greatest adventure of her life. And even though she’ll be leaving her kin for the very first time, she won’t be alone. After all, she has her bike with her, and thanks to the Machinists, the pair will never fear breaking down in these sands. The sun rises, the wind blows, and their journey begins.
Sable is beautiful — and beautifully earnest. Where the cel-shaded animations drew me in, the quiet history of the land kept me playing. The sun-seared desert environments shaped the Ibexii clan, who kept their faces masked in what I assume started out as an effort to protect from the harsh rays but soon gained a religious nature. Their children played amongst the rocks and ruins, the carcasses of wooden ships indicating water once filled this sandy valley. And Sable, eager to undertake this coming-of-age journey like the rest of her kind, explored the temples and altars surrounding their camp to unlock her gliding powers, find her bike’s parts, and fulfill her destiny.
Spending time with Sable was both dazzling and frustrating. It was really easy to immerse myself in the desert landscape — as time passed, the shadows would dance across the encampment, with stark differences in lighting and shading from sunrise to sunset. At first, everything felt a little monochromatic, but as time went on, the nuanced hues became clearer. I mused that the Ibexii must have had a dozen or so words for the color orange. Once I saw the beauty of this supposedly desolate valley through Sable’s eyes, I suddenly found myself wondering about the best possible tent spots, how to feed livestock, and how weather might change throughout the year. As far as aesthetics were concerned, Sable sells itself perfectly.
Where does the frustration come in? The controls and UI, unfortunately. I suppose it comes with the territory of becoming the newest glider, but getting the swing of things in this game takes time. First, if you do decide to play Sable’s demo (which I encourage you to do so), please note that quest markers don’t automatically appear; instead, you have to go into the pause menu and click on the quest for a marker to appear in the compass. I spent entirely too long trying to get back into the first temple instead of heading over to the new altar to power up the stone.
Additionally, the controls don’t always seem to work, especially in menus. Escaping any sort of menu is a crapshoot — trying to get back to gameplay after buying a map literally took an entire in-game day despite following the instructions (I still don’t know how I got out of the menu tbh). It’s also super easy to accidentally climb up absolutely everything. I’d be climbing up stairs and find myself suddenly Spidermanning up the walls, only to try to get off the wall by jumping, then accidentally jump off the stairs and have to start back from the bottom. Here’s to hoping Sable isn’t so sticky in the final version.
Despite any complaints I’ve had thus far with Sable, they really don’t diminish the subtle magic that unfolded on-screen. There is so much more here than a single storyline following a young woman and her bike — there’s an entire world with a mysterious history just waiting to be unraveled. And while I doubt I’ll learn about the rich seafaring cultures that once populated these dusty desert ruins, I know that what I will be treated to will have a quiet beauty of its own. I can’t wait to glide endlessly across the desert once more and explore Sable’s deep, lived-in world in the full version.
Be sure to Wishlist Sable on Steam today!