Review by Ofisil
"Everything is Hunky-dory Oscar!"
Syberia is an Adventure game developed by Microids and designed\directed by Benoit Sokal. I'll always loved Adventure Games, I've played all classic ones, many that aren't so popular and even a couple of freeware games, (check Out Of Order this game rocks!!!). Adventure games aren't money makers and in an era where developers get their money on a monthly basis by MMORPG games like World Of Warcraft, who would even thought of making an adventure game. The genre is unfortunately dead, (apart from 1 or 2 decent freeware games each year), but it died with its head up and one of the games that helped in that was Syberia, a game with perfect storytelling, plagued by average gameplay.
Kate Walker, a lawyer that currently works for a toy company, must travel to the imaginary town of Valadilene in France and ensure the selling of a local automaton factory. Automatons? For those not comfortable with steampunk Automatons are machines & robots that instead of working with electricity and digital AI, come to life with the help of analog technology, springs, wind-up gears, steam etc. This simple task seems very simple but of course this being a game, things get a bit messed up. The owner of the factory is dead and her signature is needed, something that doesn't actually complicate things but after some talking you realize that the left for dead brother of the factory owner, (and heir of the factory), seems to be alive and is traveling towards an unknown destination. Since big money are at stake here you set off searching for him along with Oscar, a British battler-like Automaton.
From there on you travel in various imaginary locations where you have to do some tasks in order to move on. The secondary characters are quite good, but not as good as you would expect from an adventure game, also the main plot although quite original and mysterious isn't so damn great, especially when games like Myst exist. So what makes it so good? For me its 2 things, first of all the overall storytelling is very good, totally gets you into the game and makes you want to move on and find out what's goin on. Secondly the main character along April Ryan from the Longest Journey are my all-time favorite female characters and believe me, no Tomb Raider\Dead Or Alive busty babe can make me change my mind on that. Her character is a very believable one and the way she changes throughout her journey is one of the reasons the story of Syberia is so good. A great example of how the game can literally drown you with emotions are the various mobile phone conversations you do with some people back in New York, New York. You'll find your self, want to punch her boss in the face, kick the family jewels of her fiancé, spit on the face of her best face and commit suicide after hearing her mother talk, (why even in games mothers are so damn annoying!?!). The rest of the conversations are very good also and make the game very alive, you'll talk with corrupted university bureaucrats, Oscar the protocol obsessed Automaton, people that wont even raise a finger unless you give them some money and many more.
Many people seem to not like the graphics of Syberia, due to its low resolution and simplicity compared to most modern games. Personally I don't care if a game features an insanely powerful graphic engine with models full of polygons. For me graphics are like a good drawing, it doesn't matter how good your tools are as long as the result looks good and Syberia looks good. Models have very good design, although their animation isn't so good, apart from Kate Walker who is perfect, (errr yes I'm a bit obsessed with her as it is obvious). The locations you'll visit, being imaginary and all, although looking real have give you a very strong dreamy feeling as if the places you'll see have been untouched for a veeery long time. Every area in the game looks wonderful and full of the various Automatons that dominate plot of the game. Generally I find the graphics of Syberia much to my liking, I hope you'll left aside your copy of Doom 3 and see how beautiful this game is.
When speaking of sound in Advenure games we basically mean one thing and that is the voice acting. Syberia disappointed me a bit in that section and that because of the secondary characters below average voice acting. At least with Kate Walker there isn't such a problem. Another thing I like in Syberia are the various environment sounds that give life to each area, like birds singing, wind blowing etc. Finally great atmospheric music that serves more like a background but is very good.
Now the problems start. Syberia is actually more of a movie rather than a game, I still love this game and insists on you giving it a try but since I want to be fair I've got to say that yes Syberia has some serious gameplay problems. First of all there aren't many puzzles and those that exist here are very simple apart from the final one, which was a very good one too. Most of them are use the right item in the right place\order, choose all conversation options available and things like that and to make it even worse even these things are quite easy even for a inexperienced Adventure gamer. Also sometimes things are so obvious that the only problem will actually be walking the long distances between key areas and believe me no matter how I love Kate Walker I absolutely hate her slow running, climbing, etc. Finally the game is quite short and not just for my tastes as it seems, since many people complain about that too. But no matter how much I complain this game is quite good and although a bit too easy its has some moments.
-Excellent storytelling, with a unique plot and a great main protagonist
-Very good audiovisual experience
-The protagonist of the game
-The lawyer of yeah, you get the point
-Lack of puzzles
-Quite short and easy
-More like a movie\book than a game
-The voice acting of secondary characters
-Oscar, (I'm kidding Oscar, everything is hunky-dory!)
Still Life (PC)
Syberia 2 (PC)
The Longest Journey (PC)
Despite its flawed gameplay I highly enjoyed it due to its great storytelling. I recommend you play this game if you consider yourself an Adventure fan, if not don't even touch it
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/02/08
Game Release: Syberia (EU, 08/09/02)
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