Sable won our 2021 Best Narrative Award.For more choices of our best games of the year, please visit our GOTY 2021 hub.
Nat Clayton, feature film producer: Sable did not save the world. There is no existential threat, no imminent war or ancient McGoffin needs to be restored. In fact, “Sable” doesn’t have much plot – however, within an hour of the game’s launch, a past conversation made me burst into tears.
Sable is a growth story, a kind of coming-of-age ritual, allowing you to leave your family to explore the world and figure out what kind of person you want to be. Every task, every conversation, every mask and piece of clothing are serving Sable’s identity. You will choose the dialogue options and equip your bike not because you need to optimize statistics or improve reputation, but because the moment feels right for your Sable. Each mask you get is actually another face that you can try.
Sable’s writing is simply a kind of sincere warmth. Almost every conversation you have is short and accidental, but it is hard not to be excited when you write very seriously. You will meet an old guard who chooses to embark on his journey of discovery in his later years, and even the most expressionless shopkeeper will understand that your gliding is an important moment. This resonated strongly with my short experience of traveling after graduating from high school. When I floated freely among volunteer performances across Europe, I tried my identity.
The most telling thing is that as long as you are ready, Sable is happy to let you complete the work on your own terms. This is not a game that allows you to clear content-on the contrary, as long as your Sable feels that she has found a mask that suits her, you are free to return to your clan. This is a fun game about self-discovery. It encourages you to reflect on those long desert rides. The best summary is that one of your tribe members shed tears at the beginning of the journey.
“Try to have fun. There is a lot to say about rituals and independence and all of this, but if you put happiness first, the world will become easier.”
Jody Macgregor, Australia/Weekend Editor: The story that bothers me is Eliisabet’s. She is the old guard you meet constantly in different places, and she is repeating the coming-of-age ceremony you experienced, but her version is more like a retired caravan traveling across the country, rather than a gap year student.
When I met her at the wasteland station and at the top of a broken bridge decorated by two giant statues at war, she sent me to run errands, which happened to involve something that seemed cool. One is to find something that only grows in a mysterious plant in the petrified forest, and the other is to look for glowing mushrooms, which are like many video game treasures, hidden behind the waterfall-only this is a psychedelic sulfur waterfall . She will definitely be excited about those mushrooms.
Eliisabet’s journey is parallel to your journey, to the same place, always ahead. She is there to remind you that although this voyage and the decision you made at the end of it may seem significant, it is not the last time you will take it. It may not even be the most important. When you are young, choices feel incredibly important, all these decisions, levels and judgments. But after a few years, they are almost irrelevant. Life-and-death matters in school are meaningless to every adult outside.
Making friends with Eliisabet is more important than solving mysterious puzzles or platform challenges, or letting the bike travel any distance without tipping its nose. At the end of her gliding, my sable chose the guard’s feather top mask to wear. This is not my choice, but you can change your mind at any time in the future.