Syberia Review (PS3)
In 2002, Syberia came out as an interesting entry into the point and click adventure genre: instead of some gruff adventurer or swashbuckling pirate, you found yourself in the shoes of one Kate Walker, whose daunting task it was to finish the legal proceedings behind a corporate buyout of a small toy company by another. A side plot involved phone calls with her family as her relationship with her husband to be slowly deteriorated. Adventurers willing to traverse the uniquely clockwork town would eventually meet a cast of interesting characters and experience a strange clockwork town and it's outlying landscape.
With a much less explosive premise than most AAA games, Syberia may have gone under many console gamers radars, until it was released on home consoles, most notably the DS, in 2008. It was simplified some and the graphics suffered on the small screen, but now the game finds it's way to newer systems, with an updated control scheme.
Syberia, originally a point-and-click adventure, gets full-on joystick controls. Kate moves smoothly, though the Resident Evil 1 style static backgrounds and quick camera moves are a bit jarring at times, and sometimes the direction you need to go to get off screen is a bit convoluted. The game offers multiple difficulty levels, though, from holding your hand the entire way to not giving you a single clue. This allows fans of the original release to relive a favorite game without feeling like they are being coddled.
Graphically, the game does feel old, but much in the way certain HD remixes of games don't feel as polished as some of the modern games coming out that optimize their respective console's strengths. While character models are plain at times, they are well stylized and do not detract from the game play. I was detracted, however, by some of the audio: the first cutscene felt asynchronous, as certain beats being played on a drum happened a second or two before or after. I reset the game and it seemed to me like it was adjusted, as if the real-time graphics engine and the sound weren't timed well. Also, a lot of the dialog is voiced. If you are in the mood to enjoy a relaxing tale, it may be enjoyable, but I found myself ecstatic when I learned I could advance the text and read, then skip the remaining audio when having some of the more mundane conversations. Mind you, the voice acting is wonderful on this game, it is just a bit slow-paced.
I have learned that Syberia is held with much regard in the PC gaming point-and-click community for it's solid story that has spawned one sequel, with a third coming next year, so perhaps this release is an attempt to garner a bit more buzz before the release of the culminating chapter. With it's linearity, one can make it through the game in about eight hours. It leaves quite an abrupt ending that is directly continued in the sequel (perhaps we will see that release soon on these platforms as well). Syberia is like a good novel: you are more pressing the story along than changing the outcome as a gamer, but the story is definitely intriguing and worth the ride. Currently, the PS3 version is $14.99, while the 360 edition will set you back $9.99.
I give it a 3 out of 5
Thanks to Nordic Games for supplying a copy for review.