2021. It has been what some call “a year”. To celebrate this collection of sun rotations, we’re looking at the best games of 2021. Next up: Sable.
Often, the most impactful games are the ones that submerge me entirely in another world and encourage me to wander through every valley, mountain, and field to my heart’s content. This year, the game that was able to accomplish that best was Sable, which sees a girl learning not only about herself but about her world and its diverse people.
The game follows young Sable who has just come of glider age as she leaves her clan behind to begin her journey to see the world and discover her own role in society. The end goal is to return to her camp with a mask to perform the final ceremony but Sable can collect as many masks as she wants before returning and take her sweet time doing so.
Each mask represents a different role in society that the wearer participates in. There are the machinists who are in charge of mechanical jobs especially the gliders, scrappers in charge of, well, scrap, cartographers who travel in hot air balloons making maps for the travelers of the world, and many more.
While the main questline is the catalyst for the journey, it can often be forgotten about for the majority of the game. Sable instead emphasizes its world and the people that inhabit it, instead.
There’s a certain joy that comes from discovering the mysteries of the surrounding temple ruins and the remnants of crashed spaceships, that hint at an advanced civilization lost to time.
No matter how high the mountains or how far the objective, I was keyed in to the world of Sable, and when I reached the top or crossed a finish line, coming face to face with another discovery, I got another rush of dopamine.
In order to obtain the masks she needs, Sable has plenty of locations and quests to discover and complete. The quests might be as simple as collecting scrap for a Scrapper or proving your climbing ability to the Climbers’ faction. They aren’t necessarily the most memorable, but they act as a guiding light to ensure that you see as much of this planet as possible.
That doesn’t mean all the enjoyable moments required discovering some sort of secret or figuring out an ancient puzzle, because some of Sable’s most endearing moments are when nothing is happening.
I have stories of taking a break from climbing treacherous cliffs to find a famed storyteller who shared a campfire with me. A nice little break where I just felt myself soaking in the ambiance of the world. Or while I was wandering through a camp learning about the people there, they mentioned how they harvest dangerous crystals with special outfits.
A hint of a challenge seemed to be etched behind every word these people spoke; a challenge that I accepted by buying my own clothes and collecting as many crystals I could while lightning shook the ground around me. A sense of determination and pride grew inside me as I adapted to the environment.
Then there are just the moments where you are gliding across the planet’s surface with sand kicking up in your wake, the sun slowly setting in the distance with the final rays of color disappearing from the world. In these moments, the game comes to a halt and you are left with only your own thoughts. It’s time to reflect not only on Sable’s journey, but also on your own and what you might be taking from this science fiction coming of age story.
The only things you have for the majority of the game are yourself and your glider. You may pop into towns every now and then, but you aren’t becoming close to people in these areas. They are merely acquaintances, and you are passing through on your journey. Your relationship is between you, the sand dunes, and your glider.
I found myself looking forward to coming back to Sable and hopping on my glider to explore its seven regions every hour of the day. Whether it was the Badlands’ boneyard or the steam geysers in the Sodic Wastes, there are so many things to see in Sable’s journey. Sable is the epitome of “the journey is the destination,” and I enjoyed every second of it.
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