Sable: ‘Star Wars’ Pod-Racing Meets ‘Journey’-Style Exploration

Explore the sci-fi deserts in 'Sable', a highly-stylised open world sandbox adventure that pairs incredible graphics with a wonderful coming-of-age narrative to find your own destiny.

Raw Fury’s Sable is a highly-stylised open world sandbox exploration adventure based in the desert. Fans of the inspirational game Journey will have a field day with this game, which pairs incredibly detailed graphics and environments with a wonderful coming-of-age narrative to find your own destiny.

Developed by Shedworks, the two-person indie development team based in North London, the game was originally released on September 23th 2021. Available on PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One platforms, Sable is also available as part of Xbox’s Game Pass.

Sable travelling from Ibex camp in hoverbike

Sable: Finding Destiny in the Desert

The story follows a young girl known as Sable, who must take part in her Gliding to find her own place in the world and leave the safety of her home clan, the Ibexii. This jaw-droppingly beautiful game is unusual in that there is no set storyline, or any combat for that matter.

During the initial tasks set out by members of her clan, including simple fetch quests and basic crafting, Sable unlocks the ancient power of gliding from a nearby temple, allowing her to drift and descend in an impermeable bubble from the mountaintops down into the nearby valley.

Sable then receives the Gliding mask from the temple, builds her first hoverbike (which is one of our favourite elements of the gameplay), and sets off into the distance, leaving her home far behind.

The main task is to collect all the badge sets and retrieve all the masks from the Mask Casters in each area to complete her Gliding ceremony.

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Sable travelling through shipyard in hoverbike

Moebius-Inspired Art Style

First, we need to address the elephant in the room – this game is stunning. According to the developers, the locations are inspired by the planet Jakku from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and it’s easy to see that the game is chock-full of space and sci-fi influences.

Reminiscent of a graphic novel, the art style pairs intricately hand-drawn environments with almost stop-motion cel animation from Sable’s running cycle. Once players unlock the first real hoverbike, the movement animation becomes way smoother, almost completely fluid. This combination of smooth and stop-motion animation styles sounds jarring, but actually works incredibly well, giving real comic book vibes.

The art style is heavily inspired by the Western-themed sci-fi artwork of Jean Giraud, a French artist who works under the pseudonym Moebius. (Moebius’ art inspired films like Alien and Blade Runner, as well as many other game artworks from Ni No Kuni to Cyberpunk 2077.)

Even the first door that you reach in Sable has a striking resemblance to an original piece of art by Moebius. See what we mean?

Sable artwork vs Moebius art
The artwork in ‘Sable’ (left) takes heavy inspiration from Moebius’ sci-fi art style (right)

A game isn’t complete without a soundtrack, and Sable delivers with soft, gentle background music to guide players through their desert journey. The lo-fi atmospheric music was composed by Michelle Zauner of the indie-rock band Japanese Breakfast, and perfectly complements the dramatic desert landscapes and gorgeous environments as you traverse through the fantastical world on your hoverbike. Headphones highly recommended for best (if not a little ASMR-like) results!

Smooth Sailing Gameplay

For such a huge in-game world, everything runs surprisingly smoothly. There were no noticeable dips in the frame rate during our playthrough, and the game controls were incredibly responsive.

Distant objects and waypoints slowly come into view as you traverse towards them, which would normally be a cheeky sneaky way for the game developers to render in the next environment. However, it’s a small stroke of genius and pays real dividends to Sable, instead reminding us more of a desert mirage or hazy heat from the sand.

Most of the quests in the game revolve around travelling across the environment, finding and collecting anything from engine parts and rocks to bugs.

There are also hidden valuables scattered across the land for Sable to find and collect, including the strangest objects known to man, the chum eggs. These eggs have the weirdest animation to them that felt a bit creepy at first, like a scene from Little Shop of Horrors, but are required for a quest revolving around the Queen of the Chums.

Sable: Star Wars Pc and Xbox Review Indie Game Fans Review

An Oasis of Quests

The sandbox nature of the gameplay means that you never get pulled specifically in one direction or the other, and players can go at their own pace to complete quests as and when they feel.

This relaxing pace is soothing and enticing at the same time, with many times of saying “just one more quest” before I’d realised it had gone dark outside and the cat wanted feeding.

On another note, gamers who tend to get overwhelmed with too many quests at once in a typical RPG game may want to go easy on the quest collections, and treat it as a marathon rather than a sprint.

With 29 quests spread across 7 locations from the starting location of Ewer and the Ibex camp to the ruined shipyard of the Sodic Waste, there are endless achievements to unlock, perfect for completionists.

Are There Any Negatives For Sable?

There are very few negative things to say about Sable. Towards the beginning of the game, the running and travelling on the hoverbike can be a little slow, but can quickly be rectified by unlocking new equipment and parts for your bike. For gamers who want to move around at a quicker pace, there’s also a Fast Travel option to important locations, which later on in the game is a life-saver.

There were also rare occasions where it’s clear that there was some lag on Sable’s movement animation as assets were loading in, on top of the intended mo-cap style. While this was only mildly annoying, it was not seen too often, and only when entering brand new locations for the first time.

Sable standing in desert environment

Our Verdict

Sable is an amazing blend between the medium of video games and art, and we loved every minute of participating in this desert world. The open world sandbox means that players can stick to what they prefer best, whether that’s exploration and collecting (completionists, we’re looking at you)

Grab your own copy of Sable for Xbox consoles (including Game Pass), or through Steam for PC gamers.

Overview

9 / 10

Story

9

10 / 10

Graphics

10

9 / 10

Controls

9

9