SANABI is an upcoming exhilarating take on action platformers from Wonder Potion. Taking on the vengeance of a retired veteran with a taste for blood, this title will have you swinging all over an abandoned apocalyptic city. What lies ahead remains a mystery. The beta version doesn’t give away any secrets either.
With the publisher, Neowiz Games, already holding critically acclaimed titles such as Blade Assault and Skul: The Hero Slayer under its belt – it’s easy to say that SANABI is going to be heavily anticipated by both previous fans of the publisher and anyone who has a love for action-heavy platform games.
SANABI will be available on Steam.
Story: A tale of sorrow
The tale begins on a bright afternoon. Just as you are woken up from falling asleep under the sun. A dream consumes all your thoughts, where our protagonist is having a conversation with his daughter. At this moment in time everything seems to be at peace. You are in a location with no notable threats, and everything is fairly slow. It seems unparalleled to the vengeful spirit showcased in the trailer. And the title doesn’t seem to promise any sort of terror. But as things progress more seems to go wrong. Before you know it SANABI is in full swing.
Playing as a legendary retired veteran, SANABI’s story is truly heartbreaking. Following the enraged pursuit of the protagonist, you embark on an epic revenge fueled mission to destroy essentially everything in your path. Almost in a John Wick style montage. Explore a dystopian, abandoned city which has been overcome with intelligent robots, all of which are out to get you. But in this game, players are the only thing strong enough to stop them.
A license to kill
Along your way, players are tasked with utilizing a variety of skills or elements of their surroundings in order to progress. It’s important to keep one eye on your surroundings at all times as you can never guarantee what is lurking around every corner. Learning what is safe to use and what to avoid is one of the most compelling parts of this title. As a retired veteran, re-learning these skills puts a huge emphasis on being out of the game. More times than not, enemies won’t be your issue, but the environment will be.
The story of SANABI is consistently referenced throughout the game just to ensure you don’t forget what (or more importantly – who) you’re fighting for. Despite a melancholic and shocking introduction to the title, the rest of the gameplay makes up for it’s slow beginning with tense action. Players will no doubt find themselves resonating with our protagonist as they dive further into the game. There is a constant chest tightening feeling of dread as you delve into this dystopian land and it definitely provides the drive to just keep moving forwards despite everything aiming to kill. Wonder Potion plays on all human emotion within the story of this game to make everything feel far more compelling. Rather than taking on the cold, emotionless personality of all the robots, having the protagonist as extremely in touch with their emotions makes everything feel more real.
Gameplay: In full swing
This title is not for the faint of heart. It’s extremely fast paced and you need to be constantly on your feet in order to progress. To match the protagonist’s overwhelming feeling of rage and the tempo of its accompanying soundtrack, SANABI is a thrilling, super fast, life-threatening platform game. Even from the initial tutorial, the pace for the entire title is set – and it only speeds up from there. But what else would you expect from a game filled with such action? You can only act fast when your life’s on the line. Despite only playing the first few hours of SANABI, there is so much action it’s hard to find a quiet moment. And it is GREAT.
Practice makes perfect
At the beginning of the title, controls are set out through an extremely wholesome tutorial. Rather than just being in one room to learn the controls until you are ready to leave – you are tasked with completing a ‘game’ created by your daughter. Your mission is simple, collect some raspberries. But several obstacles placed along the way have you swinging from a grappling hook or scaling a mountain. Sure, it’s nowhere near as intense as the main action of the game, but it’s definitely a great way to get used to the controls. There are a lot of button techniques to memorize which take a lot of practice to master. Although the tutorial teaches you everything, practice definitely comes with repeating certain levels in the game.
As soon as you finish the tutorial, it’s like you dive head first into the deep end. Just as everything seems fine, the world gets flipped upside down. With only the practice of that tutorial under your belt, you immediately face off with haunting mafia-esque bosses. But, you are a force not to be reckoned with. Although it isn’t really explained in this beta, the protagonist of this title is feared by most he encounters. As you come across more characters, it’s clear that there is an aura of mystery around the backstory of this character. Which compels players to continue fulfilling their mission in an attempt to find out who you really are.
It’s the environment that’s evil
One of the central mechanics of this game is our protagonists ‘chain arm’. Although this tool is accessible from the very beginning of the game, as you progress through the story you learn more about it’s capabilities. It’s essentially your only form of attack and defense, and the one thing to save your life should you find yourself tumbling from heights. The platform aspect of SANABI comes into play once you descend on your first mission, and your chain arm is your best friend.
At first it’s controls can be a little difficult to pick up. There are a lot of button combinations to learn which become integral to gameplay. But once again, practice makes perfect. Do not expect this game to be something you can easily breeze through, there is definitely a lot of challenge surrounding it. Just from the beta you can gauge the difficulty level of the entire title.
Audio and Graphics: From thrills to chills
With every tense chase comes an equally thrilling soundtrack. Nothing would feel anywhere as intense if this title didn’t have such an epic backlog of music. Every aspect of audio also mirrors the futuristic element to the game. Soulless echoes flow through the dystopian level design. Deafening mechanical grinding alert you of any upcoming unsavory encounters. Boss battles are terrifying in every way due to audio levels being increased to make them seem more deadly.
Even when you have to repeat levels the soundtrack doesn’t become annoying or boring. It’s catchy, but not to the extent where you’d have to turn it off after a few rounds. There is one track which accompanies the platform section of travel and rather than being irritatingly repetitive it is almost hypnotic. Suddenly you are transported into the protagonist and facing death. If there’s one way to describe the audio of this title, it would be absorbing. Suddenly hours have passed, even when you’re only experiencing the beta. Needless to say this enveloping darkness has left an air of excitement for the full release.
With a game so dependent on a swinging mechanic the last thing you want to experience is lag. The speed of the game also requires a smooth run in order for players to really enjoy it. Any whisper of lag to the title would completely shatter the immersion. So it’s really lucky that this game doesn’t face much error. Even when the screen is completely dominated with enemies and missiles and bullets, it still runs incredibly smoothly. The only delay comes from being hit several times at once, or landing in the same patch of killer environment. There’s a slight shudder before the protagonist falls to his knees and you go back to the previous checkpoint. This millisecond of delay isn’t enough to ruin the game. Especially if you don’t die in the first place.
More than meets the eye
SANABI doesn’t seem to have much detail in terms of character design, but the levels are beyond beautiful. For a pixelated game there is a level of detail unmatched by any other platform game. Colors also play into the futuristic theme with really bright lights leading the way. Or certain parts being highlighted in neon so they’re hard to miss. Every powerful enemy towers over you in neutral palettes. Just to separate themselves from what used to be good about a world once good.
The character design is recognizable despite its lack of depth, and you know who is safe and who is not down to the colors they are either wearing or surrounded by. The retro take on pixel art is exhilarating to encounter even after a few hours of playing. With the beta only showing you a handful of locations, there is a lot to look forward to for the game’s full release which hasn’t been seen yet.
SANABI was previewed via play test on Steam.