|Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: 10.5.8|
Syberia from Anuman Interactive and Microïds is a great graphical adventure game originally released in 2002 and recently released for the Mac. The story told in Syberia is engrossing, pulling the player into an alternate reality where automatons with AI-like intelligence can be real, and fantastic mechanical devices using springs rather then electricity, can exist. Enjoying the story alone makes this game worth the time and effort to play. Playing Syberia was a real treat.
You play the part of a New York Lawyer named Kate Walker. She has been tasked with going to a remote village in the French Alps to complete the sale of a local toy company to a larger U.S. firm. Kate arrives to find that the owner has passed away, and that she has left a letter revealing that her brother, Hans, thought to have died many years ago, is actually alive. So, she inherits the toy company. Suddenly, a simple mission to sign some papers turns into an adventure to locate a man who has been hiding from friends and family for decades.
Luckily, Hans has kept in touch with his sister over the years, and this has left a somewhat unusual trail for Kate to follow. It all begins with her finding plans for a mechanical train and automaton engineer, designed by this mechanical genius, which will bring her to where he is hiding. She needs only to get the train working, and take a trip to him…. (Of course, it never turns out to be that easy)!
Since this is a mechanical train, it needs to be rewound at certain points during the trip. This of course means there are issues at each stop which need to be overcome before the train is wound up and the journey continues. As well, each stop builds more of the picture of Hans’ life and the communications between him and his sister. All this paints a tale full of wonder and adventure.
Aspects of Kate’s home life are brought into the story through a series of cell phone calls she receives throughout the game. Her interactions with her fiance, best friend, mother, and supervisor, add to the tale, making her life more real, while adding a depth to this story and her character. I don’t want to say too much about what happens, but it has a bit of a surprising ending, which leads into the next game in the series.
The graphics and scenery in Syberia are beautifully drawn, although they show the game’s age with unusually static areas, included in scenes with some background animation. One scene in particular comes to mind, where crossing a bridge over a small brook, birds fly across the sky, but the water under the bridge is motionless. However, this doesn’t detract very much from enjoying the game, since the images do convey the scenery of the story in great detail.
Movement in Syberia is relatively linear. In any given scene you can move only so many directions, to an adjoining scene. Often the perspective changes radically from scene to scene. You can travel to most parts of each area when you first arrive, although certain parts require completing a puzzles before you can access them. You cannot move from one major area to the next until you have completed the area. But all this is typical of a graphical adventure.
The puzzles in Syberia are relatively simple. They are used more to tell the story through the game, rather then a typical adventure in which the story is generally secondary to the strong puzzles. In each scene, objects you can pick up are clearly marked, as are directions you can move and persons you can interact with. Every object that is found has a purpose, either as information, clues to what might be needed to complete a puzzle, or information about the life of Hans and his sister. There are some places you can go that have little to do with the quest, but do provide a backdrop for the game. A couple of the puzzles make you think. Probably the worse part of this game is the typical adventure game issue of go there get that, return to there and use it, then go back to get the next thing, syndrome. It wasn’t terribly annoying, but it was noticeable.
When you interact with a character in the game, you can have a dialog box that displays the words as they are spoken by the character. This is a good thing since some of the dialog was a bit hard for me to understand due to accents, and other issues. If the text of a dialog is long and takes up more then the box provided, the text will scroll. There is an issue that the text moves faster then the speaker speaks, so if you are reading along, you will need to read ahead of the speaker. Placing the player in a bit of an awkward hearing situation.
After the initial dialog with a character a menu appears that lets you have Kate ask for information concerning specific topics. Some of the topics, such as the ones labeled “Kate”, “Mission”, “help” appear in all such menus. While it doesn’t hurt to try all of the options provided, sometimes there is no real information for that topic and the dialog gets repetitive. However, often certain clues will appear in discussions with people on a certain topic. It’s worth dealing with repetitive dialog to be sure you get the important information.
Game play is pretty standard. Move this way or that with a mouse click. Click on a talk bubble over a character to speak with them. If an item can be picked up and you don’t need it yet, Kate will make a comment about not carrying too much stuff. If you need to use an item, like a key or a tool, you need to open the inventory and click on the object. Then you interact with the person or object that requires the item. If you are using the wrong item, or the device needs something which may or may not be in your inventory, Kate will say something like, “something is missing”.
I ran into no issues playing this game with the interface and experienced no crashes or other issues. Music and sound were fine, nothing stunning, complementing the game very well. Game play, music, and graphics were all well balanced to make for an enjoyable experience.
Overall, playing Syberia was a wonderful experience. Although the adventure game aspect of Syberia is relatively simple, the story is very well done and I found myself drawn in. Actually, I was so drawn into it that I am really looking forward to the next chapters of this game. It is a story worth playing if you enjoy a fantasy adventure. I highly recommend Syberia.
• Excellent story
• Nice graphics
• Some text speed issues and a bit of repetition in the game
Syberia isn’t designed with really tough puzzles. They are simple enough but still provide a little challenge.