User Rating: 6.5 | Syberia XBOX
Nice visuals but Syberia reminds me why I stopped playing graphic adventures long ago. Its your basic graphic adventure (GA) with many item puzzles, dialog clues, a few hard to find switches etc. Most of the gameplay involves pure navigation through high quality, pre-rendered artwork. As far as the puzzles go, they are much more simple than the adventure games I played years ago. If it was not for finding the items themselves, solving the puzzles would be way too easy. Unlike some GAs, the items do not stand out so you need to walk around to find them. In a game of perhaps 20 or 25 short puzzles I only found 2 that really made me think at all. The rest were very straightforward. I never reveal spoilers but a number of the solutions were simply a few feet away from the problem. If you pick up stuff as you go, which is typical GA behavior, these cease to really be puzzles at all. Another problem is the pure linearity of the game. Now I expect GA to be linear but not down to the order that you solve almost every puzzle. I can't remember having more than one thing to keep in mind at any one time. Resident evil had more complexity in its puzzles and you had to solve them while constantly fighting zombies! My point is that the puzzles, while mostly logical, are simply too easy. I would think those new to GA would find them boring and seasoned adventures would solve them without any thought at all. This is the main reason I am confused by the high praise Syberia has received from critics and the adventure community. This game (on the PC) typically gets a 9/10 which is baffling to me. The other problem, at least on the consoles, are the bugs and poor control. Apparently, on the PC, its a completely mouse driven interface which is typical of an GA. For some reason, they felt the need introduce the element of driving your character around the screen as opposed to letting the game do it for you. I'm not sure if this was the best move. It introduced a number of problems and I think the joysticks on todays controllers could have worked as a mouse substitute just as well. The main problem is that this new interface was not tested very well and your character will get stuck. It can happen in corners of the screen where the controls get confused and you simply can't move. The only solution that I found was to load an old game. After it happens once, you will learn to save more often so its not deal breaker. The other problem is that your character has to walk on a path which is much more strict than than the backgrounds would indicate. Often, these paths make sense given the background but almost as often, they make no sense whatsoever. A walkway will just end, even though you can see the path right ahead of you. Other times, you can go from screen to screen but only if you point your character in the near-perfect direction. These transitions look unnatural and take away from the otherwise pleasant journey through the artwork. To add to that problem, the perspective makes some very extreme changes which look great but are disorienting to a moving character. Even the game seems to get confused by it and will often turn your character around as you enter a new area. Very annoying indeed. Why did these controls bother me so much? You may ask. Because, I kept playing the game. Fortunately for the developers, the graphics, music, and story are compelling enough to get you to pick it up again. While the visuals did not blow me away, I did enjoy them. The music was decent but very limited. I only recognized one or two main themes but they were very well done. If you are truly a fan of the graphic adventure (or graphic novel) you may enjoy Syberia but I would look to the PC first since most of the problems with the interface will be gone. The puzzles and gameplay still leave me wanting and wondering what all the praise is about. I guess some people are completely won over by the graphics but for me it takes a bit more. On the plus side, it only cost $20 but $10 would be more fair. Its not that long (14-18 hours) and most of that time is spent simply walking.