Syberia - Box

Ages: Teen +

If you caught the early previews of this one, it promised to be the "game of the year". Remember the excitement about Myst? Well this one doesn't disappoint. Try it for yourself. There is a demo and a walkthrough on . This is really a game-story, and it has everything you have wanted - interesting characters plus some character developments through the game; a female protagonist – strong and attractive; dialog that has a spark of humor to it; unbelievably beautiful environments; moving music; and a creative and inventive story. My one complaint, is that with all the fantastic detail and the care they went to – some of the scenes are too dark – at least with my monitor and graphic card.

The story, briefly. Kate Walker, a lawyer from New York, is sent to purchase a mechanical toy factory sequestered in the French Alps. To accomplish her mission she must search for the last remaining heir – a strange, perhaps mad genius. Her search takes her to a university town, an abandoned factory, a once renowned Russian spa; through churches, cemeteries, mines, libraries and a profusion of elegant, mysterious and fantastic places, populated with wondrous mechanical devices.

I can say no more. I am still feeling the thrall of the game!

Editor Review 9/02

Ever since Myst came onto the scene in 1993 and wowed the mass audience with wonderful fantasy graphics, little has come close to it beauty. Until now that is. Syberia written and Art directed by comic book artist Benoît Sokal, sets a new standard of beauty in Adventure games.
Syberia is story based Adventure game. You play the part of a female lawyer named Kate Walker. Kate is sent by her law firm to finalize the selling papers for a mysterious toy factory. Kate's mission: look for an ingenious/crazy inventor, the creator of many of the mechanical automaton wonders Kate will find. It's not as easy as Kate hoped and she begins an adventure that takes her through several strange towns in attempt to solve her mission.

Art: The backgrounds look pre-rendered (static 3D pictures like Myst), the characters, water and birds are all true 3D. The backgrounds are wonderfully detailed and with incredible textures from the rivets on machines to a blade of grass. Every background scene is close to movie quality. The 3D characters are nicely done, and the quality of the animation is better than I have seen in a long time. I can't even imagine how long it took to do all the art work, nor can I stop gushing about how beautiful the art and design is!

But I do have one personal pet peeve: static view points. It's been nine years since Myst came out with it's static viewpoint style game. Why are adventure games still using static picture backgrounds?! With all the richly detailed true 3D games out there, it's time to update, why limit the player to one view point? I should admit I'm a 3D game lover, but what's not to love? I can walk around in a fantasy world with as much freedom as I do in the real world. Granted the system requirement might be the reason Syberia stayed static. But while I was playing Syberia, I wanted to look behind things, static views take away the reality and they make me feel like I'm watching a movie not interacting in an adventure.

Interface: The controls are very simple, strictly point and click. Each scene is fixed, although there is some scrolling. You move Kate through a scene by clicking on the ground or objects. If you place your cursor over an item that can be used or manipulated your cursor will change. A right click will bring up the menus. Objects shown in this first menu can be used to manipulate something in the world. If you click on the right arrow in menu it will expand to show you more objects, these items are books and papers for reference and some can be shown to other characters. You can also use your cell phone to receive and make calls, and you sure get some interesting calls. The interface is very easy to use, a strictly no manual needed kind of interface. Also the game saving is lighting quick, always a plus.

Music: The music was moving and worked well with the story, high quality scores. However every town seemed to have theme music that was looped and I did have to turn it off for fear of losing my mind. This was sad because I really liked music.

Bugs? Super clean, the only bug I saw was a wrongly displayed cursor, really rare.

Dialog: Of course when it comes to an Adventure game, dialog is king and Syberia is no exception. You simply click on the characters and pick out topics of conversion and Kate will start talking. I was impressed with the quality of the dialog and the acting. It seemed like they used professional actors, rare indeed in video games where most parts are acted by the game developers or their friends.

Game Play: The story of the game is deep and layered. The creativity of the story kept me wondering how it would end. The cut scenes were weaved perfectly into the story. The cuts scenes were masterpieces in themselves, high quality movies. The automatons character and objects were so interesting I couldn't wait to see the next one.

Solving the puzzles was a matter of finding some type of key and using it in the right place, or picking the right dialog topics at the right time with the right person. Sometimes it was clear what to do while other times it made very little sense. My advice if stuck:

1) Talk/Call to everyone, then talk to them at a different time, and then again.
2) Make sure you scan that little cursor over every pixel on the screen three times. There were times I completely missed something grey in a dark corner.
3) Be Kate, remember what you have learned and who you know, the puzzles are often clever and usually make sense.

The movement speed of Kate quickly became a big issue for me. Kate could be convinced to run (double click), but she wouldn't run very fast and some time she refused to run at all, I guess she was an afraid of slipping and ruining her nice clothes. The reuse of the background scenes meant a lot of running around. Factor in a slow running Kate who has to go through ten scenes to get a key and run back 10 scenes you could easily spend 15 minutes just running back in forth. Realistic? Maybe, but not fun.

Although the art and design of the game is completely new, like most adventure games Syberia is linear, in other words there are no alternative ways do things. This means no need to play the game through twice. This also means things can get a bit boring and sometimes frustrating if you don't want to think exactly like Kate. Toward the middle of the game I felt the puzzles were getting a bit tedious, but I will I admit I couldn't stop playing the game because I was so interested in finding out the story and seeing more cuts scenes.

Women Gamer Factor: I'm going to take a wild guess and say Syberia was targeted for us women. It sure has a lot of the elements to make many of us happy.
1) It's got a strong female main character, what more could you want? Kate's not a floozy, she is not stupid, she's not wearing revealing clothes, and she doesn't have exaggerated Barbie portions, she's pretty normal. She does have a questionable relationship but 'hey' no one's perfect.
2) The storyline is interesting, and no lack of a good plot.
3) The dialog well written.
4) It's beautiful!

Summary: In one word, Grand. Syberia is an interesting and beautiful game. The quality of the art, the art design, the music and the animation really puts it in the Grand category. If you're an Adventure game fan, buy it now! But if you're the type that loves non-linear true 3D games, you might be bothered by the linear game play and how much running around you have to do. But no matter what you like, download the demo and try it out, trust me it's nothing you have ever seen before.



  • Kate is too slow. I think this is a huge problem, come on chicks can run fast!
  • Too much reuse of background art/scenes.
  • Stuck, static views.
  • Linear (you must do things the way they were scripted)
  • Sometimes hard to find the clickable items.
  • Need more scores, got a bit repetitious.
  • Some times tedious gameplay, (To get the item, you need a key to open a lock, but you need a key to unlock the lock to get the key, etc., I think you get the idea.)

Reviewed by Adrianne Canfil 11/02
Copyright © 2002 by Adrienne Canfil. All rights reserved

  • Syberia
  • © Dreamcatcher Interactive $29.99
  • Windows 95/98/Me
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