A mystical, charming, and remarkably original adventure that leaves you craving for more.

User Rating: 8.5 | Syberia PC
Straight up, Syberia is one of the most mysterious, unique, and astonishingly original game worlds ever concieved. Picture each of these words in your head as you read them: lawyer, robots, Swiss Alps, funeral, mammoths, New York, drunk astronaut, blood testing apparatus, opera, gas mask, scandalous affair, and castration (just kidding). With the exception of castration (that was my own take on it and has nothing to do with the actual game), all the above are seamless intertwined in a beautiful collabertation of storying-telling and discovery. How is that possible? You'll just have to experience it for yourself.

Without giving to much away, you play as a young female protagonist who is named Kate Walker. Because the sheer wonder and mystery of the game is strongly rooted in the time, place, settings, and scenarios of the story, I feel like I'm writing under the constraint of endless taboos. This would not be a problem for me if I hated the game (like Eternal Darkness), but the truth is I absolutely loved this game. Therefore I don't want to cheat you of its effect with spoilers.

From a technical aspect, Syberia is pretty basic involving 3-D characters walking around on a pre-rendered background with set camera angles, though there is occasional camera panning that I greatly appreciated. Not much is done with lighting or shadow as I can't seem to remember Kate Walker ever having a shadow (or if she did, it was very primitive). The fabric of her clothes and her hair were standard for an early 2000-2001 game, but nothing above average. There wasn't much play on the lighting since walking up to a lamp post didn't make Ms. Walker's face brighter or darker when she walked away. The movement of other NPCs (non-playabe characters) was for the most part pretty stiff, though not distractive enough to be unenjoyable. There were other silly little things, like only one character could actually move on the screen at a time while the others just stared off until he or she left; or when entering a conversation with an NPC who wasn't facing you resulted in a long routine of simply turning around in order to engage in conversation. But these were very minute distractions and actually added to the game's charm.

Where Syberia falls short in the technological, it excells in the aesthetics. Artistically, Syberia is simply gorgeous. The poor dynamics in the pre-rendered backgrounds are easily over-looked by the quality and outstanding beauty of the pre-rendered art. Every tree, rock, plant, stream, and mountain look like they have a story to tell that contributes to the intimacy of the game's narritive. Even in the architectural realm, there's so much depth and perception in every table and chair found in those Eastern European reminescent buildings. The impressive cutscenes, though not predominate in the game, are the icing on the cake and are accompanied by an equally impressive music score.

Of course, none of the games aesthetics could be appreciated if it wasn't backed up with an enthralling tale of adventure, and for the most part that tale never falters. The best writing actually appears in both the cutscenes and in Anna's diary which recounts some of the history of the town of Valadilene. While the in-game dialogue may not be of the same caliber as that of the cutscenes, neither are they mere fluff. Never once did I cringe or feel a loss of immersion from the games dialogue. That doesn't mean it was perfect. There were plenty of quirks and lots of laughs throughout, but never was I dissatisfied.

To avoid any disappointment, it's fair to say that Syberia is a short game. Even if you take the time to unravel all of the puzzles on your own, there's only four levels (or scenarios); and you would be hard pressed to squeeze more than 20 hours of gameplay out of it. As far as replayability, consider this game as a treasured novel or movie that you can always return to either by yourself or preferably with a loved one. There's no reason at all, why two or more people could not enjoy this game together, although three might be pushing it. Two heads are better than one and giving advice to each other is half the fun.

There's so much I want to say, but I'm refraining because this is simply a must-play adventure. There's so many discussion topics that can be milked from here: Who is Kate Walker in the beginning? Who does she become in the end? What made the difference? And why, the heck, is this game called Syberia? I could ask so many more questions, but it would just spoil it for you, so take my word for it. This is an adventure game that deserves more recognition and will earn your appreciation.