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Like a lot of my peers, I too had fallen into a counterproductive slump ever since last year’s pandemic-induced lockdown. Before the lockdown, most of my days at home away from university comprised basically two things- writing an article or two for Gameffine and playing boomer shooters and CRPGs. But, for over a year, my daily routine consisted of waking up, dragging myself in front of the PC, and spending the day in a semi-slumber state watching pointless YouTube videos or binging shows one after the other. Now, I don’t want to get into a deep discussion about how the pandemic has affected our mental states or spout some philosophical nonsense. The gist of the matter is that I had been unable to enjoy the kind of games I used to play. I had been meaning to switch up my usual catalog of games for something relaxing, but even then, I lacked the necessary motivation. That’s why getting the chance to review Sable has been such an opportunity. The ethical obligations of being a reviewer prevented me from slacking off and in turn, rewarded me with one of the most soothing gaming experiences of this year (with a lot of caveats).

Sable is an open world exploration video game developed by Shedworks and published by Raw Fury. It was released on September 23, 2021 for macOS, Windows, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One platforms.

Sable takes place in a wasteland of sorts, one that has seen the rise and fall of many a civilization. You put on the sand-filled boots of Sable, a young girl belonging to a nomadic tribe who’s undergoing a rite of passage called The Gliding. From the get-go, it’s a story a lot of youngsters can relate to. No, not the wasteland part, but the part about coming out of the safety of your familial shell and setting on a journey of self-discovery. No, Sable is not some deeply philosophical slow-burner. It’s a rather simple coming-of-age story with some strong and relatable themes, even if the amateurish dialogues does lessen its impact a bit. Sable also has to leave the safety of her tribe and set forth into the mysterious dunes to uncover secrets of the past as well as to find her calling. As Sable, you’ll explore the remnants of civilizations, meet new people, help them with their plights and see cool new locations.

After a rather long tutorial, you’re free to go wherever you want. You can either follow the closest resemblance to a main questline or make your own adventure by climbing structures, visiting towns, collecting outfits, and upgrading your bike. Sable can’t die, there’s no combat and absolutely no pressure on the player. The game is at its best when you’re exploring ruins or drifting aimlessly through the lonesome dunes while the soothing soundtrack calms your nerves.  Did I mention that you can also drive a hoverbike?

The majority of Sable‘s gameplay involves two things- freeform climbing and riding around the vast expanse of desert in your hoverbike. Sable is apparently a Ubisoft character because she can climb almost anything in the world. To make full use of this ability, the dunes are littered with gargantuan ruins and machinations from a forgotten age. You’re free to explore them to learn their secrets, collect ancient artifacts and Chum Eggs that increase your stamina when you turn them in. However, there is a stamina meter in the game that governs your climbing and sprinting ability. Oddly enough, there’s no fall damage and thus, there’s no consequence to falling hundreds of feet. This kind of makes your ability to glide in the air pretty pointless. The climbing, for the most part, works well. However, clipping, animation, and physics glitches are pretty common.  It can also be a bit inconsistent and inaccurate at times.

The next major aspect of Sable‘s gameplay is the hoverbike. According to the lore, the nomads share close bonds with their bikes and it’s up to them to take care of it. In gameplay, this just boils down to upgrading your bike by buying better parts from vendors. Sadly, I didn’t much enjoy the riding aspect of the game. The bike doesn’t exactly feel great to control due to poor feedback, slow speeds, and janky physics. Don’t get me wrong, it’s completely doable. It’s just that it could have been better. Also, it’s highly recommended that you play Sable with a controller to get a decent experience.

During the daytime in-game, Sable looks absolutely breathtaking thanks to the unique art style and stop-motion animations. The French comic-esque art design is so alluring and makes you want to stop and take in the surroundings every once in a while. At the same time, the nighttime is mostly monochromatic and loses its charm due to the washed-out aesthetics. Now, I don’t know what can be done to improve this but it just looks so odd compared to the excellent daytime visuals.

Another selling point of the game is the soundtrack by Japanese Breakfast. This was my first time hearing of such a band and I’m thankful to the developers for the opportunity. The soothing, low-fi tunes and serene vocals do so much to elevate the feelings of wonder, excitement, and a bit of loneliness. I’m not someone who buys soundtracks for games separately, but I’ll gladly make an exception for Sable.

Now here’s when the uber positive Jay turns into grumpy, old-man Jay. I don’t know what’s going on, but the game runs pretty bad even on my R5 5600X and RTX 3070. For one thing, it never hits 144 fps (people with high refresh rate monitors will know my pain). Then it constantly keeps fluctuating between anything from 50 to 80, resulting in a massive stutter-fest. In one particular section of the map where there are lots of trees, the game even dropped to 28 fps. Manually forcing v-sync on in the Nvidia control panel and locking in-game fps to 60 did resolve most of these stutters but the game feels so choppy by doing so. It seems as if the engine and assets are not optimized to run at high framerates. Then there are various bugs like the menu locking up, your hoverbike not appearing when whistling, clipping issues, floating vegetation, and more. The QA team really dropped the ball and these issues tarnish the otherwise excellent game to a huge degree. Such a shame. I hope the developers will fix most of the glaring issues fast, or they’ll miss out on a lot of potential purchases.

I’ll be forever grateful (ok, maybe not that long) to Sable for getting me out of this creative slump during the quarantine. Sable‘s unique visuals, soothing soundtrack, and relatable themes make it an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a relaxing experience. At the same time, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the game due to its abysmal performance on PC. It hurts me for doing this but it is what it is. Hold off until the technical issues are patched in for the optimal Tatooine swoop bike simulation. Better yet- give it a try on Xbox Game Pass if that’s an option.


The following is a shameless theft of our boss Ayush’s review scoring system:

With less time and more wisdom at our disposal, he has decided to create a whole new rating system for games we review: How many nights a week will we stay up after 11 PM 1 AM, once our family has gone to sleep on a workday and spend 2 hours with it, knowing full well that we need to enter the rat race at 8 AM the next morning? Well on that scale, we give Sable:

“An hour or so every day just to vent off the pressures of mundane life”


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