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Reviews

Two Cent Review: Sable

(Sable is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, and Microsoft Windows.)

Review copy provided by Indie Game Collective.

“Gaming as an artform has been a not-so-hotly-debated topic that’s existed since its inception in 1873. Over the decades, many scholars have spit-balled a variety of often controversial takes on the subject. Take Cher for example (who hasn’t aged a day, by the way). During the Great Gaming Prohibition of 1919, Cher advocated furiously for gaming to remain legal for all to enjoy.

She had argued that video games gave people an opportunity to interact with art in a way that wasn’t possible before. As a matter of fact, her argument as to why gaming shouldn’t be outlawed was so moving, the board of directors for INSERT COUNTRY NAME HERE ultimately decided to reverse the prohibition.

From there, the rest is history. Cher was able to use the media attention she received to her advantage, eventually becoming a world renowned singer. Gaming was given its own branch of government, and art was taken seriously once and for all. The world then knew peace, and a golden age of prosperity for humanity began.”  

-Kevin James, Gaming Historian (circa. 2009)

I want to tell you about a game I played recently called Sable. This was actually one I’d initially hoped to review when it launched in late 2021. Unfortunately at the time, the game was plagued by a few minor (yet somehow majorly annoying) bugs. Thankfully Sable was patched shortly after. Now the bugs I had previously encountered are nowhere to be seen. 

And now I can melt over this game properly.

Sable sets itself in an almost post-apocalyptic setting reminiscent of Mad Max meets Star Wars. Nomadic tribes live in isolation from one another, occasionally gathering in city hubs to barter with one another. The people of the land all wear masks as a representation of their purpose in life. Machinists, who build landspeeders called sand cutters, speak the ancient tongue of technology. Suffice it to say, Sable’s setting has a lot going for it. 

As a coming of age story, the game follows the adventures of a young Woman named Sable during a pilgrimage of self-discovery. Her quest will take her to a wide range of desert locales, where she’ll meet a wide range of interesting characters. Many of whom will provide opportunities for Sable to help them in one way or another. In return, many of these people will give you a talisman of sorts. 

Many of these relics are directly tied to whatever task Sable completes as well. So helping a cartographer rewards her with a cartographer’s talisman, helping a merchant rewards her with a merchant’s talisman, and so on. When three of a specific talisman have been acquired, Sable is able to craft a mask of her own (sort of), ultimately culminating in her rite of passage to adulthood. It’s a simple premise that does well to set the stage for the journey. 

Beyond the game’s opening and closing sections, Sable is fairly non-linear when it comes to progression. Its sizable open world allows for freedom of exploration that reminds me heavily of 2017’s Breath of the Wild. Sable may not compare in scope, but it’s still full of all the climbing, puzzle solving, and oddly comforting intrigue that made Breath of the Wild so fun. 

Sable’s game world is so full of different and exciting things that it excels in the craft of getting the player to stick around for “just five more minutes”. But I also think it draws the player in with its uncompromising commitment to creating and maintaining its unique atmosphere. If I had to give a comparison, I’d probably say Journey, which hits many of the same emotional beats. Making a game that’s equally as isolating as it is comforting is no easy balancing act, but it is one I think Sable’s developers aced. 

It’s also nice to see a game utilize a unique art style popularized by the late French artist, Jean Giraud. You may know him as Moebius. 

His signature style was prevalent throughout the 1970’s and beyond, both in sci-fi and in the general media. Almost dream-like in presentation, Moebius’ work was full of surreal, abstract imagery, which, when mixed with one of a kind color schemes, made for a hypnotizing series of works. His art was so iconic in fact, he’d even go on to contribute storyboard and design concepts to many well-known projects, such as Alien, and Tron.

And now I can officially scratch “give an art lesson in the middle of a review about a niche indie game” off of my bucket list. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. 

So let’s talk about Sable’s gameplay now, because it’s something you’ll be doing from start to finish. That is the whole point of games after all. Though, I’m not sure there’s as much “playing” going on in Sable as there is “walking from place to place while being entranced by the aforementioned atmosphere”. 

There are larger quest chains for you to tackle, though these are few and far between. One of the highlights for me was a quest I picked up in the early hours of the game. There’s this town called Eccria, and it’s possibly one of the first places you’ll visit on your journey. I won’t go too into the specifics of what happens here, but just know that you’ll be expected to do some A Grade detective work in order to solve a classic case of who-dun-it. 

Outside of these major questlines, Sable’s gameplay loop remains the same throughout its 7 to 10 hour runtime. Most of your time will be spent going from one location to another, solving not-so-challenging puzzles or asking locals for ways to make money so you can buy parts for your sandcutter. 

There are a wide range of ways to whittle away the day in Sable, though I’d argue much of it boils down to the same rinse and repeat formula. And while it’s certainly something I have my gripes with, it’s such an inconsequential thing in the grand scheme of my experience with Sable that I can’t help but overlook it a bit. 

Because when I think back on my time with Sable, I’m not reflecting on the last puzzle I solved, or what the most recent audio log said. Instead I think about the moments in-between these moments, where I found myself staring off into the starry night sky. The moments where it was just me and my sandcutter in the isolation of the desert, with nothing but the sounds of Japanese Breakfast to kill the silence. 

These moments allowed me to reflect on my own life choices in life. It gave me a window to look back at my own history. To view the steps I had taken to claim a mask of my own. Which was made even more enlightening by the realization that I’ve yet to pick a mask. At this point, I’m not sure if I ever will either. Perhaps, not too unlike Sable’s journey, I’ll continue to wander until I’ve found a future worth wearing a mask for. Or, perhaps, the mask of the wanderer has inadvertently been chosen.

Because it’s about the journey, not the destination. 

Categories
Music

“Giddy with Despair” Out Now!

After two years of waiting, Sleepyyhead’s (re)debut album “Giddy with Despair” is finally here!

Here’s a quote from Sleepyyhead in regards to the album’s release:

I’ve worked tirelessly on this project for the better part of two years, and now it’s finally time to share it with the world.

I’ve written this album as a way to say goodbye to old ways of thinking, while accepting the need for change. In order to grow, we often have to reflect deep within, or make changes that don’t initially reflect a positive outcome.

I hope I’ve managed to compose songs that convey that process while not becoming too niche or without variety. And if you find yourself giving Giddy with Despair a listen, I hope you also find similar motivation for change.

-Sleepyyhead

“Giddy with Despair” is now available to stream via all major platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, etc).

Digital copies can be purchased here.

Categories
Music

SleepYYhead’s “Quantum State” out now!

Check out SleepYYhead’s final single, “Quantum State”, off of the upcoming album, “Giddy with Despair”. The full length still has yet to receive a release date but speculations point toward an early 2022 drop.

Categories
Music

SleepYYhead’s “Heatwave” out now!

Check out SleepYYhead’s latest single, “Heatwave”, off of the upcoming album, “Giddy with Despair”. The full length still has yet to receive a release date but speculations point toward an early 2022 drop.

Categories
Music

Sleepyyhead’s Debut Single is Finally Here

On a Friday already full of popular music releases, new and emerging artist “sleepyyhead” decided to drop their first single from their debut album, after teasing the release all last week. You can check out the official music video below (and stream “neutral tone” via your favorite music streaming service):

If that wasn’t already exciting enough, we were also treated to the unveiling of the official album artwork for the aptly named “Giddy with Despair”. It certainly helps to further set the stage for what’s sure to be an exciting release.

Categories
Music

Nylon Children – Summer Camp (Out Now!)

Hidden in the shadows for half a decade, the final Nylon Children release sees the light of day. Click here to stream the album, and feel free to check out the press release below for more info on the new project:

“I have a pretty crazy announcement to share this morning! As part of my effort to continually grow and challenge myself as both a creative and as a person, I decided this year would be the year that I finally release Summer Camp, an album I wrote nearly half a decade ago. It’s something I’ve shown to people here or there, but never to a wider audience, as it was mainly written as a coping mechanism after a series of life changing experiences I went through in my personal life. Oddly enough though, I’ve never felt like I could quite let go of those past experiences in their entirety until I overcame my fear and shared Summer Camp with the world. So now’s the time that I do just that.

This comes at a very scary time in my personal life once again, and I feel it’s the most ideal time to release such a project into the wild. It’s also the last project to be released under the Nylon Children moniker. Moving forward, I’ll be producing under a new name, as I feel the current one has served it’s time and no longer captures the same feeling I’m going for in a project title.

Summer Camp will only be available via Bandcamp. You won’t find it on streaming services or anywhere else. Maybe one day that’ll change, but for the time being, wider distribution is out of the question. On the bright side, the album, as well as every prior Nylon Children release will be available for free, with the option to donate if you feel so inclined.

I want to thank everyone who supported the project over the years. It was a fun period in my music journey, but I’m ready to lay this one to rest and explore new sounds in the sonic space.

If you enjoy Summer Camp, or any previous Nylon Children works, feel free to share away! Or get in contact with me and tell me all about your favorite songs, albums, whatever.” -Nylon Children

Categories
Music

KK Vibe (KK Bubblegum Remix)

You can also stream this song over on Youtube by clicking here.

“In celebration of Animal Crossing: New Horizon’s one year anniversary, I decided to remix the best song from the one and only KK Slider. I hope you enjoy this cute little bubblepop tune! Be sure to like and subscribe so you don’t miss out on future releases.” -SleepYYhead

Categories
Music

bloop. is now available everywhere!

Bloop. is the first full-length release by Nylon Children in nearly five years. Self-described as the “ADD EP”, this 8 track CD/EP hybrid thing is full of a variety of genres, from rap to lofi, synthwave to ambient. Listen via the playlists provided below, or on your favorite streaming platforms.

Bloop. is also available for purchase over on Bandcamp. Click here to purchase your digital copy.

Categories
Music

dearly[ASGORE] (Kingdom Hearts x Undertale)

You can also stream this song over on Youtube by clicking here.
I like Kingdom Hearts. I like Undertale. I don’t know what else to say.
Categories
Music

Valheim – Meadows (Lofi Remix)

You can also stream this song over on Youtube by clicking here.
Valheim is something truly spectacular. I can’t recall the last time I had an early access game with a heavy focus on survival cause me to no life the ever living heck out of it, but somehow Valheim has done the seemingly impossible. The music in the game is fantastic as well, and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to do a bit of a lofi remix for one of the best songs on the OST. I hope you enjoy my lofi remix of “Meadows” from Valheim!