Review by zeru
"A pure aestethical pleasure, disguised as a puzzle quest"
Quests is not dead! At least, Benoit Socal don't thinks so.
The storyline involves Kate Walker, a lawyer from New York, in her pursuit of an heir of the toy factory (not your typical toy factory, though... they make automatons - kind of wind-up robots), located in the European village of Valadilene. The factory is to be sold, but an sole heir has long gone to the east, to the Russian Siberia. On her journey, Kate meets many people (and automatons too), visits 4 surrealistic locations and solves many original puzzles.
The Syberia storyline don't have any turns, that will make your catch your jaw. It's original, peaceful, philosophical. In fact, the main story isn't what makes Syberia storyline good, it's all about, should I say, 'way notes', a stories of people whom Kate meets on her journey, great and low, brave and talented or vicious and insane. The ending makes you think(!) about pursuing your dreams and the vanity of the casual world.
Imagine Myst with a third-person view, slightly simplified puzzles and that much beautiful. Syberia plays like any other puzzle quest, except it's very well designed. Anyway, gameplay is slow-paced, thoughtful and addictive and stays on that level all the time. ''Boring'' isn't the right word here. Syberia is not very short or very long, you can beat the game in, about, 10 hours which equals to 2-3 evenings, so you won't be like ''Ugh, it finally ended''. Probably, you'll even ask for more.
Backgrounds are 2D, but they are really drawn by the Hand of the Master. Every location looks stylish and majestic. Attention to the details is incredible. There are 4 big locations in the game, and each of them are original and differs from the others. Character models are in 3D, nothing special (now that we have Morrowind and FF10, that is...), but they look good on the backgrounds. Animation is smooth and beautiful.
Sound & Music (9/10):
Music are wondrous, if not perfect. It adds greatly to the atmosphere of a surrealistic and mysterious, yet slow-paced and peaceful adventure. It really is a pity there are only 5 tracks (I don't count the in-movies themes, though).
Voices are done perfectly perfect. Main heroine's voice is not much, but other voices are truly good. For example, an old sailor and his wife, who speak some mix of Deutsch, Russian, French and English languages with a terrible Russian accent. Really a pleasure for your ears.
And if you're a fan of classical opera or just classical music, there's a surprise for you in Syberia. I won't spoil it, but believe me, it's worth seeing and listening to.
Three words here - Plain, Clean, Intuitive. The mouse cursor automatically turns into a variations of looking glass when you point on the usable/examinable items. Ergonomic and easy-to-use inventory adds to it. You don't have to get accustomed to the interface to play and enjoy, and that's great.
All puzzles are very logical. It sure is good for a quest-newbie, but leads to almost no difficulty at all. You can solve any problem in this game just by turning on your reasoning and thinking for a minute or checking all possible places for a solution. The only dead end I experienced was because of my own laziness.
5 is there for the original idea of slightly surrealistic, philosophical adventure by Benoit Socal, Syberia's main designer. Otherwise, it's Myst with third-person view and a little simplified puzzles.
Experienced a few hang-ups and crashes, but that's about it. Still, I recommend installing the latest patch and saving often.
More an aesthethical feast, then a full-fledged puzzle quest, this game offers an incredible feeling of mind and soul peace. I advice getting this game no matter what your genre preferences are. If you really want it to be an unforgetable experience, then wait 'till it's winter evening, get a couple cups of tea/coffee/chocolate, turn off your lights and play Syberia, as snow falls quietly behind your window...
Or you just can buy this game for your girlfriend, who hates videogames. Who knows, maybe she'll change her opinion after playing Syberia.
Played it on:
P4-2000, 512 DDR, GeForce 4 MX 440, SBLive!, LG Flatron L1710B.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/20/03
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