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Syberia (Windows)

82
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Afex Tween (164)
Written on  :  Jul 27, 2006
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars

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Summary

Well, that's it! I just have to say..

The Good

..This isn't a game you must buy and play. The whole agiotage around this game was always a mystery to me. No, no, I understand that Microids put a great amount of money into the advertisement company. I also can't deny that graphically Syberia is stunning. Sokal is indeed a great artist. But..

The Bad

..not a great adventure designer. The whole concept is nothing more then "interactive movie". And not a very good one, actually. Almost everything that makes adventure game an adventure game was simplified or even taken away.

Plot? It sure looks intriguing at first. But bad writing quickly ruins the whole concept. What the game suggests us is a very (and I mean VERY) linear journey from one fixed point to another. And at every stop some odd thing happens, delaying the departure of our young heroine. I don't really mind the drunken cosmonaut that denies to open the gates to freedom. OK. But a madman that steals Oscars' hands? What a stupid and wire-drawn thing is this?! And that's how most things happen in the game.

You get quickly bored watching Kate Walker running through hundreds of beautiful, but empty locations in search of something you can interact with. And even after you find a rare inventory item or a mechanism, all you can do is follow the prescripted procedure that can hardly be called "a puzzle" or even "a problem". The only available item you can use on the only available hotspot. Isn't that wonderful? Use a screwdriver on bolts. Logical? Yes! Entertaining? Hardly.

The smart cursor was invented many years ago, with games like Kyrandia or Gobliiins. But even though it had very limited abilities, it still allowed players to explore locations, to "feel" the world. This time it often serves as a triggering mechanism that allows player to move from one point of story to another. Exploration and interactivity, the main components that were introduced by IFs and always associated with adventures, were almost reduced to zero.

Another "high point" that many people discuss is characters. Now this is really surprising, as all of them are so badly written that you can hardly tell anything about the past or present of most people you met. Several identical questions that Kate comes up with are of "Who are you?" and "What should I do?" variety. And Oscar.. If someone asks me what is a bad way to present a robot in an adventure game, I'd show him Oscar. "Hello, Kate Walker". "Where are we going now, Kate Walker?" "Good by, Kate Walker".. It's plain awful! Play Feeble Files, or Chronomaster, or Y2K for comparison (and they have wonderful robots!). Or any of Gabriel Knight games for that matter, to see REAL personalities, memorable characters that you want to believe in. Which don't act like badly animated dolls.

The Bottom Line

A highly overrated interactive movie that was called "an adventure" by mistake. I would've closed my eyes, if it didn't become a cult. Not a "classic", just a cult. The game surely introduced many new people to the genre. People that are in love with Syberia and don't want to hear about anything that is not of the same beauty, length and style. And developers? They understand that masses don't need deep stories and smart puzzles, nor interactive environment. Pretty pictures and female heroine is enough to get some money from the product. Sokal already showed his fans that he knows nothing about adventure development (first with boring sequel, then - with ugly Paradise). But Syberia is still considered by many as "the best adventure ever". Now, who put the last nail in the coffin of adventure genre?