After hearing so much good things about Syberia and being in a mood a for a good adventure point and click game I decided to give Syberia a try. What a disappointment it is and a big one at that.
You play as Kate Walker, a lawyer. You travel to a little town in Europe to the mission of completing a deal to buy a Toy Factory which actually makes automatons, which seem like robots but a little different as the game explains it, or tries because it doesn’t really explain it. Here we can begin pointing out one of the first of the many problems of the game, nothing is explained to you.
The developers create a setting that is different from the usual, so if anything they should try to immerse you in it. One good way to do it would be to explain to you how some of these particular things are, how they work or pretty much anything interesting about it but no, better to be left in the dark, I guess.
The story itself is boring and bland. Without spoiling anything while trying to settle the deal for the purchase of this factory you learn about some of the history of some characters. Bare in mind that those characters are either dead or you have not yet met them. To give the game a little credit, this is by far the best part of the game, the backstory of what happened years ago. Of course the game wouldn’t present it to you in a interesting manner, that would be asking too much, instead you are presented with a book to read. About 10 pages or more. It’s not that bad but as it is the best part of the game and the only thing that gives context to many of the stuff that you see and some puzzles one would thing they would do a better job at presenting it.
With a boring scenario and story that leaves us to the characters and I’m sorry to say, they’re also just as bad. First, your main character, Kate Walker. She is alright at best. You don’t get much room to see her being relatable but at least she’s not annoying not anything. There are however some things that could make her seems better as everynow and then you get a cellphone during the game as people in your life want to talk to you, be it your boss, boyfriend, friend or mother. The problem here is that when talking to pretty much any of these people, when you think it would help to create Kate’s character, it does, but in an opposite way one would hope. Everyone gets the last word with her, it almost makes you feel sorry for her being kind of stupid and helpless and aside from her friend, every person that calls her seem boring.
There are also the characters you meet which believe or not are even worse. One of the first characters you have to interact with is a retarded kid which tags along with you for while and you can guess how much depth he has… zero. This only goes on and on with every character which are boring to the extreme with the sole exception being the robot/automatron Oscar. He seems to be the only interesting and creative character of the game and lo and behold, the only interesting character in a point and click adventure game is a robot. Not your character, not anyone you meet but a robot.
What music? It seems the game does have some music but it barely plays. Most of the time you are walking around in a complete silence with only the marvelous sound of your footsteps. Occasionally some music does play and it is beautiful but it’s so rare you barely forget there is any music for about 90% of the time you’re playing.
The environments do have a nice mood to it. They look nice, of course, understanding this game is some years old but despite of that, the game does look nice. What its’t nice, however, is that every item, door, or pretty much anything you have to interact seem to be hidden behind some huge amount of crap in the front of it or some horrible camera angles that obscures anything worth noting. I do appreciate when developers take the care to not make items stand out so much they are almost shinning in contrast to the background but here they made sure to make it virtually invisible. Most items you can only probably notice when mousing over them, otherwise you would probably miss them entirely.
With all that out of the way, it leaves us to gameplay and partially continuing what I was saying about the graphics, when you can’t see anything in a point and click game, you can imagine how the gameplay is gonna be like. This is the killer for me. Everything is a pixel hunt and that only helps to make the gameplay slow.
Talking about slow, how about mentioning the movement speed our main characters walks? Let me just say, it’s so slow you can probably do something else while she walks from screen to screen and to add to it, there are a ton of screen to walk around with barely anything worthwhile to do, look, or experience. It seems like it’s padding to make the game seem longer than it actually should be.
In fact, it seems like every action Kate does is in slow motion, like climbing a set of stairs, for example. Depending of the stairs they seem to take about 5 to 15 seconds just so she can climb it and another 15 seconds to climb back down. Did I mention there’s a ton of backtracking in this game. Well, then get ready to have fun walking super slow back and forth and waiting for the slowest of the animations to get anywhere.
Only thing left to mention is the puzzles and by god, they are among the worst I’ve seen. Most of them feel like they are completely random, especially when you are giving pretty much zero indication about how to proceed. Recently I’ve heard of the term “moon logic” and I think it is the perfect way to express my perception of the puzzles in Syberia. They have no logic one could think of unless they lived in the moon or maybe the crazy world from Alice in Wonderland.
I’ve played games that take a while to begin, many adventure games and visual novels suffer from that, the problem with Syberia is that it never gets anywhere. I love puzzle games when they have some thought put into them. Sometimes, you play a game in this genre but one of its aspects leaves something to be desired, a game may have some weird puzzles but a good story, bad story but with good characters, weird characters but nice music, etc. The problem with Syberia is that for me it did everything wrong.