I didn’t find the game play to be anything particularly interesting, but the look of it…It was probably the pinnacle of not-fully-3d-rendered point to point navigation games for eye-candy…and the different places had noticeably different looks, from the sunny art noveau of the first village to the increasingly barren winterscape in the later areas…
I recall it being quite a pleasant experience, rather lacking in some of the more obnoxious qualities that plague other games of the genre, though I can’t say I found the storyline quite so moving. While believable and reasonably well-developed, it all seemed just a teensy bit too much like something that had been done many times before – one might even call it trope-laden.
Unfortunately, the sequel drops most of such pretenses and is considerably less effecting, though Oscar’s fate is kind of moving. Last I heard, a third entry in the series is still forthcoming, for some very strange reason. (I can’t imagine there’s any substantial quantity of money to be made on such a venture.)
My whole family (me, wife, two then-young-teen kids) enjoyed that game together, since the visuals and story were very good, and the game play was interesting enough. We still imitate the robotic voice of Oscar saying “Kate Walk-er” as a minor family joke.
As a genre adventure games had a pretty good spate of female protagonists:
The Longest Journey series
Secret Files: Tunguska
Interestingly, most of these that i can name offhand are from the same company–including Syberia. Some are better than others…
Edit: same publisher, “The Adventure Company”
Benoit Sokal is one of the great adventure writers, right up there with Jane Jensen (although I don’t always care for the exoticism, like in the superorientalistic Paradise). He’s also a great comic artist, by the way.
Anyway, I have to tell a story here:
I had (despite having been a huge PC games nerd in my teens) stopped playing video games after Baldur’s Gate. Time, friends, university, antifascist political stuff got in the way, and also I didn’t feel like video games offered me anything anymore. I basically didn’t play anything except the occasional Wesnoth campaign (because by then, I had changed to Linux). Then, after ten years of not playing video games and, like, two years or so of being together, my girlfriend told me she was a huge adventure nerd (which seems strange, but the topic just never came up between us) and introduced me to gog.com and adventuregamers, where I could rediscover the games of my youth. One of the first games I played was what she recommended: Sokals Syberia. One of my favorite comic artists had developed adventures, and I didn’t even know! So I jumped into it, from there rediscovered other old favourites of mine, discovered old games I had never played, and the whole new indie scene. Fantastic! The shooter stuff (which. in my mind had taken over most games) had never interested me, and I felt like there was this whole new scene that rebuild everything I had always loved about games. I’m totally into it now.
But the story doesn’t end there. Having rediscovered my passion for games, I told my younger sister about gog one evening and that I had started playing games again. To which she answered: Sounds great, do they also have Discworld? I’m like: what? How do you know Discworld? - Well, I always played it on your computer. This is how I, at the age of 35, realized that in our teens (when, for some reason I had never thought about (i.e. privilege), I - the only son of three kids - had been given a PC) my little sister, with who I shared a room until we hit puberty, had snuck on “my” PC and played “my” games - everything from Civilization via System Shock to Discworld and Myst - when I was away. I was stumped, but then gave her Syberia and since then we share, amongst the three of us, our mutual adventure game passion. Thanks, Benoit Sokal, and I’m looking forward to Syberia 3.
The hallmark of a great video game site (and writer!) is when it (and she!) can take a game that I’d completely not enjoyed, and more or less dismissed, and present it in a new light and from the new perspective that is thoroughly interesting and engaging.
Mention of Syberia always reminds my of ***C***yberia, which was also an adventure game and one I quite liked, although it definitely benefits from reading the brief fiction piece in the manual first, and I suspect that the FMV shooting gallery sequences have not held up well.
Syberia 2 isn’t really a sequel though, it’s more like the second part of the story the first one left unfinished. I strongly suspect they were intended to be a single game but got split up due to some business necessity of releasing something before a hard deadline.
Personally I’d welcome more of this sort of thing. Measured pace, point and click but not pixel hunting, puzzles but not moon logic, and most importantly an engrossing adult-appreciable story backed by good visuals and a strong sense of place.
Played the first and I’d agree that it was pleasantly entertaining, but the sequel was dire - there’s not many adventure games I’ve ever given up on but Syberia 2 was one of them and it didn’t take me long either (terrible dialogue/voice acting)
God, I love this game. There is a nice art book “Syberia : Esthétique du jeu” with artwork and interviews… in french.
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