What Strange Creature Bimbles…?

I often find rewards in computer games slightly puzzling, not merely in what they are but when they are received.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been playing Sable, a game about a young woman undertaking her coming-of-age quest on a world that is a blend of many things from hunter-gatherer to high-tech.

The cover of Sable, showing a drawing of a young woman in an ibex horn mask standing next to a hover bike.

The game has no combat, no hard or soft level gating, and few areas that require one to have done other specific things first. Thus, the point of the game—to the extent any entertainment has a “point”—is to explore the world, work out how to reach places that look interesting, talk to the NPCs, and ponder what the civilisation (or civilisations) that came before were like. Depending on your preference for the art of Michael Moebius, this might be made even more enjoyable by the similarity of the animation to his work.

One aspect of the game is being able to upgrade your hover bike with various parts. Most of these can be found or bought. However, there is one set that requires going to multiple places scattered mostly evenly across the map, then taking them all to another place that is hard to find (and that one is not told even exists) to hand them in, then returning after several game days to collect the set of parts. They are not the best parts in the game. Which is where my puzzlement at game rewards kicked in.

While it is possible one could chance upon all the locations needed without having really investigated much of the rest of the world, the chances are by the time one has found all of them, there are only a few obscure edges and odd folds left untravelled. And, as one must wait a few game days between finding the final location and receiving the parts, the chance that a significant part of the map remains unexplored is even smaller. If the parts made one’s hover bike the best in the game then finally getting them might bring the joy of whizzing around the world one last time focusing on the driving rather than whether one is missing a new NPC or site of interest; but they don’t, so anyone who enjoys the aspect of building a bike that suits them better then whizzing around has already got a set of parts that fit their yum better and done it.

Hence puzzlement: is this reward very narrow, serving purely for completists to have another another another thing to gather? Or is the lack of a reward that might have purpose the point, serving as the apogee of a game about someone bimbling around finding their own meaning and purpose?


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