One of the games that nabbed a brief spotlight during Microsoft’s [email protected] showcase during the E3 press conference this past year, was Shedworks’ Sable, not to be confused with the lasciviously arcane, Shadworks. The game is a coming of age tale set on an alien planet that treks across a large desert expanse.
The debut trailer featured music from Michelle Zauner from Japanese Breakfast, while the audio design is being worked on by Martin Kvale, and the animation is being constructed by Micah Holland, while Gregorios Kythreotis and Daniel Fineberg head up the main development of the game.
The minute and a half trailer gives you a look at the visually striking game, which combines cartoon-style cel-shading with fully realized 3D environments. You can check it out below.
The inked outline and lack of gradient color shading gives its own unique look. The best part about it is that it doesn’t use a lot of filler frames between the key frame animations. So we get a slightly more hand-animated look as the characters and objects move about. It looks a lot more like a traditional cartoon as the characters move about. According to the developers the animation itself was mirrored after Studio Ghibli and other Japanese animes.
The shader-lite art-style lends itself closer to old-school CAD renders, where you would get the polygonal renders with the flat color surfaces. According to the developers this was deliberate, as Sable is designed to mimic the art-styles of classic Belgian and French comics from the old days, such as Pierre Christin’s science fiction imagery, or Jean Giraud’s outlandish alien worlds, or the richly washed out palette used in art from those like Francois Schuiten.
There are some scenes where you do get the impression of light spacing and shadow depth thanks to some shadow mapping that occurs later in the trailer. We also see that the game is actually utilizing physically based rendering, as an orb descends casting a hot pink-fuscia glow onto the nearby environment and the main character.
As for the game itself, it’s about traveling.
You’ll move across vast landscapes on foot, sliding down mountains, as well as acquiring Star Wars-style craft as you venture through ancient, forgotten valleys and horizon-blocking mounds.
At your disposal will be a hovercraft, which will be one of the main modes of transportation. They don’t really reveal exactly what the main goal is but it’s themed around discovery, and finding out more about the ancient technologies and abandoned artifacts on the alien planet.
Unfortunately, there is no combat in the game, so it’s a lot closer to zen-adventures similar to thatgamecompany’s Journey or a combat-free version of The Legend of Zelda. So it’s obviously not for everyone.