Did you believe in fantasy worlds when you were a kid? Perhaps there was an entrance in your back yard, just beneath that big tree you always played near. What if that parallel world wasn’t part of your imagination, what if it was real? Wisteria has flown home to marry her fiance Ryan. As soon as she gets there her husband to be disappears through a portal in your family’s forbidden garden. There’s only one thing left to do: follow him!
The world of Sable Maze: Forbidden Garden looks like a fantasy realm unto itself. Highly detailed artwork with loads of areas to zoom into and examine, and the animations are surprisingly lifelike. Most of your time will be spent hopping back and forth between closely connected areas using the plethora of items you’ll pick up to solve simple puzzles. Sable Maze doesn’t go out of its way to obfuscate its solutions. Locked gate in the way? Find an item that fits the lock’s shape and you’re good to go!
Hidden object scenes are dynamic and intricate. You’ll be presented with a text list of items sitting below a crowded screen. Most if not all of the items are interactive, meaning you’ve got your work cut out for you from the start. Move pieces of the environment around to assemble, uncover, or otherwise discover objects on the list. You’ll often have to solve super short micro puzzles to pick up the things you need, such as a nine piece sliding puzzle. In case all of this sounds too complicated, you can always switch over and play a match-3 game instead!
Forbidden Garden is no slouch when it comes to mini-games. These crafty little diversions come along frequently and are almost always an instant delight. Each one has a simple construction that’s easy to understand without resorting to familiar tile swapping or jigsaw conventions. After playing around with the interface for a moment things will suddenly “click”, at which point you’ll spend several delighted minutes working towards the solution, frustration free.
Sable Maze does something interesting with Wisteria’s mom. Early in the game she gets turned into an ermine, a snow-white ferret-like creature, and proceeds to follow you through most of the game as an item. Yes, you can send your ermine-mom out to grab items. It’s only weird when you think about it, otherwise it’s a surprisingly fun part of the game that encourages you to think outside of the inventory box.
Sable Maze: Forbidden Garden has a lot of strong points without any glaring flaws. The story is a little predictable, but you really won’t mind as you stumble through the richly detailed scenes solving puzzles with an inventory full of items. Plenty of fun and plenty of challenge, just don’t tell your mom how useful she would be if she were an ermine.