Syberia was originally released for PC in 2002, and averaged some very good scores for its time. Now it’s 2015, and the 13 year old adventure game still holds up in some ways, and in some ways it doesn’t. The PS3 version of the game is serviceable, if you are able to look past some of its faults, but in the end it’s an adventure worth taking.
Players control lawyer Kate Walker from New York, as she travels to the remote village of Valadilène. Kate’s employer has purchased a factory in the town and is looking for the owner to sign and agree to the deal that has been discussed. The problem, is the current owner has passed away, and the deceased has a brother that gains inheritance of the factory. Kate must find this new heir and get him to sign off on the sale of the factory. Kate will journey to new areas in the search of this new heir.
Syberia plays like a standard adventure game. Collect these items, solve these puzzles and read these books to understand how said items fit into the puzzles. You’ll interact with a number of new characters along the journey, but don’t expect to have any worthwhile character development. Other than the main character, Kate, and her train engineer, you meet later in the game, few characters have an interesting back story. Don’t expect to learn about them too much though, as many characters from the story come and go. Kate’s personality and the way she responds to people changes over the course of the game, and by the end of the game, her priorities have changed. Multiple phone calls that Kate receives from friends and family reveal a sub-plot that continues throughout the game. Towards the end of the game, these conversations over the phone were more interesting to me than the story at hand.
One of the first things you’ll notice is its steam-punk looking environment. The world of Syberia is unique and feels very fitting for the setting that the characters inhabit. No updates have been made to the visuals and for the most part it works out fine. Sometimes it is hard to discern what objects are and where the player needs to go. Objects in the world can appear very small sometimes, and it’s hard to notice if anything is actually there. It’s also tough to see where you can and can’t go. A building can be on the side of the street that you can’t go into, but then a gate at the small corner of the street you can enter. It’s hard to see what is an actual destination, and what is actually just background. At the same time, its look drives the feeling of emptiness the world is trying to show. The village and surrounding towns used to be bustling with people and business. Now it’s barren and almost resembles a ghost town.
Movement in the game can be very stiff at times. Even when moving, from the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen, expect to get caught up in multiple invisible walls on the way. Invisible walls can help guide the player where they need to go. But here there are so many, that you can’t move at a simple pace. It may be a small gripe, but after hours of playing, it begins to be irritating. The game can stutter at points too. Even while moving, the game will often chug for a few moments. The music can also stutter, ruining some of the hum-worthy tracks. Puzzles encountered are fun and thought-provoking. I had to think of who I wanted to talk to and think of what items go where to proceed. However, some puzzles feel like padding to make the game appear longer. At multiple points I knew where the next three or four steps were going to take me, I just needed to travel back and forth from certain areas to finally achieve what needed to be done. The writing and voice acting in Syberia is definitely dated, but it was just satisfying enough to push me to the next area or next puzzle.
In the end, Syberia is old, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some aspects like the writing, movement and direction have aged with time, but the style of the world, puzzles and story make up for the shortcomings. Even with my gripes with the game, I had an interest on how the story played out. It’s a classic adventure game worth exploring if you are looking for something different in today’s world.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Worthwhile Story
- Interesting Puzzles
What I Dislike:
- Dated Writing
- Stiff Movement
- Sense of Direction