Sable Channels the Glory of 70s Fantasy Comics

Heavily influenced by the fantasy comic book legend Moebius, Sable’s vast landscapes will appeal to players who like exploration games.

Atop a hoverbike, floating in a levitation bubble or just using a knack for climbing, the world of Sable is a vast and sombre wasteland to wander. It’s a desert filled with holy temples and wreckages from beyond the stars, treasures buried in a coat of dust waiting to be uncovered, where the titular hero must travel between nomadic encampments and complete a sacred ritual known as the Gliding. Sable features no combat, but fans of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will enjoy the similar, cooling nature of exploration. The moods in Sable are tied together by a score from acclaimed musician Michelle Zauner, the lead singer of Japanese Breakfast, and bound in a visual style reminiscent of cult ’70s comics.

The two-person, London-based studio Shedworks began work on Sable in 2017, first unveiling peeks at its debut game through animated gifs of a hoverbike kicking up dust across a pastel desert. These clips were not only catching attention for the game’s promise of adventure but also the influential visionary it was hearkening back to.

Video game still from Sable of a character in a red jacket.

Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius, is one of the most important artists of the last century. A mountainous output of fantasy comics and illustrations under his belt, the French cartoonist was one of the founding members of Metal Hurlant (Heavy Metal magazine in North America) where he printed his most famous collection: Arzach. The titular stone-faced, slender swordsman in a poncho traverses across an acid-rock landscape atop a floating concrete bird, challenging ogres and overcoming psychedelic adversaries.

Moebius was involved in the visual design of films like Alien, Tron and The Fifth Element. Studio Ghibli’s first feature film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, was by no secret an homage to Moebius’s work. His touch is still felt across sci-fi and fantasy to this day — video games included.

Many games are iterative of Metal Hurlant’s influence, from Ubisoft’s Beyond Good and Evil to Breath of the Wild. Sable gets delightfully specific: similarly following a lone, cloaked and afloat hero, the colours and gradients seem curated to thrill fans of Moebius and introduce others to his world. The stone face encountered in the first moment bears a strong resemblance to one seen in Moebius’s Starwatcher anthology. As Sable’s landscapes unfurl, great splendours await players and European comic fans alike when the game comes to Steam and Xbox Series X on Sept. 23.

Watch the official Sable trailer here

Japanese Breakfast performs Glider from Sable