Grappling Hook Like A Boss
By Alex Orona
Sanabi is a new Early Access action platformer by Korean indie dev WONDER POTION. While it’s got the Early Access status due to unfinished story, all its gameplay mechanics are rock solid and its art is a beautifully detailed pixel art. Let’s get into what makes Sanabi so special.
In a world where we have such pixel art story driven indie titles like Hotline Miami and Katana Zero, Sanabi fits snuggly within that style of game. Its key mechanic is a grapple arm that can be used to traverse the platforming challenges, which also works great in combat settings. The grapple angle is set to the right stick and shooting is very satisfying with how fast it moves. Couple that with the ability to jet boost your swings, or even zip quickly up the retracting the claw and we have some really gratifying movement.
When in combat, our main protagonist uses this same grapple arm to zip directly to enemies, killing them in a single hit. The enemies range from guards and drones to giant robotic worms. The way to defeat them is generally the same, though the angle you have to approach them or how many times usually vary. The encounters are fast paced, using your movement swings to avoid projectiles while taking out the enemies before moving out. It can be a wild ride. The puzzles that exist within the world make for really complex platforming sequences. It may take a few tries when going through the levels but nailing a perfect puzzle sequence gives such a feeling of accomplishment and an incredible endorphin hit. Even after finishing one, you’re itching for more and it’s a fantastic drive forward.
The main thing to understand about Sanabi is that it’s absolutely story driven, meaning that all that action frequently comes to a screeching halt for long dialogue dumps and story beats. It’s not a knock against it, as Katana Zero had a similar situation, but it’s something to be aware of. The story itself is very interesting. It plays out a lot like most action films, ala John Wick. A rockstar mercenary retires to a life of happiness with a family, only to have that family destroyed right in front of him. What follows is a dark and twisted tale of revenge to find the infamous villain Sanabi who has taken an entire city hostage. This is the stuff of films and Sanabi fits the mold perfectly.
Combine our hero with a plucky young hacker sidekick and we’ve hit most if not all the tropes of those films. The dialogue is well written and despite its ability to cut the action short, it remains compelling. It also lends itself to some slick action set pieces that make boss battles even more badass. The pixel art and electronic soundtrack do a lot to enhance every bit of the game and it is all the better for it. While still in Early Access, the game is complete up to Chapter 3. There isn’t an upgrade system or further combat mechanics but as of right now, there’s a lot of content available. If you’re looking for a story that grips you with some gritty noir sensibilities coupled with some action movie tropes, Sanabi is one you should keep an eye out for. We don’t know what’s coming down the pipeline for this game, but if this is a first glimpse, it can’t be anything bad.