Synonymous with Syberia 3 – disappointment, but it seems we have hope for a decent sequel.
A small ad – evaluating the volume of the text, you might think: “And when to live ???” I agree, sometimes I myself do not want to read large texts. Therefore, I came up with a constructor article.
If you want to quickly read the main text – it is in front of you. For fans of long articles, I wrote additional paragraphs hidden under the “spoiler” windows – click and read the whole thing. Ignoring hidden paragraphs will not distort your understanding of the text – there are pieces under the windows that are not necessary for reading, but I don’t want to throw them away.
You can also skip directly to the parts “Pain and Hatred for Yukols” and “Hope of Siberia” to read the text even faster.
Be warned: spoilers will be everywhere. If you haven’t completed the Syberia games, although you are planning, you better not read. If you are too lazy to play, but spoilers are not scary – welcome to the first entry of my personal blog!
I love graphic adventures, also called point-and-click adventure. But I am a finicky person: I need a more interesting plot, and more beautiful graphics, and so that all at once. Remember also that the felt-tip pens are different in taste and color, so I won’t call myself an avid gamer. But at least in Memoria from Daedalic Entertainment and four of Benoit Sokal’s creations, I have played in my life. Let’s talk about the latter.
Paradise of Benoit Sokal
Love in a mysterious plot, mystical puzzles and – in my subjective opinion – regarding open worlds I was instilled in me by a Belgian comic book artist. A CD with Paradise was lying around at home, all of a sudden, completely in English. The game was probably bought by dad, who speaks only Hebrew from foreign languages, so I don’t know how such a miracle came to us. Thinking about it now, I find it strange – before the release of Paradise, Benoit Sokal released two parts of Syberia, which received positive reviews from critics and players. The first part of the PC Gamer and GameSpot series was named the best adventure video game of 2002. But dad did not hear about Syberia, and I started to get acquainted with the genre in Paradise.
The game captivated me, despite the language difficulties – I did not speak English in high school. Often I had to climb into the passage of the game to complete quests. Oops, who am I kidding – my experience with Paradise consisted of reading the walkthroughs a little less than all of them. What should be done there? Unclear. Plot? I didn’t get it at all. But did you like the game? Yes, just fire! You walk around beautiful places, chat with characters, pick up trinkets and assemble them into cool things. It was interesting for me to interact with the world around me, where I don’t need to kill anyone, because the need to shoot or run away from the chase brings me suffering.
Paradise was a flop when compared to Syberia. A lot of bugs, a muddy history, lagging animation – professional critics often complained about the need to restart the game, because at one point it stopped working. As an inexperienced player, I did not focus on these things, and there was nothing to compare with. I love Paradise for the small, non-obvious details described above. It was this game that pushed me towards Syberia and towards graphic adventure in general.
Pain and hate for Yukols
I will not describe the impressions of the first two parts of Syberia for a long time. After Paradise, these games looked even better, and I myself already understood where to go, how to complete quests and why ask the characters about everything. Images of towns and tundra landscapes also seemed nicer than the African jungle from Paradise. Syberia was hooked by architecture and interiors that reminded me of Europe in the first third of the twentieth century, and do not care about mobile phones with video cameras. I played both parts in Russian and was able to fully immerse myself in the stories of how Kate Walker first searches for the inventor Hans Voralberg, and then helps him to fulfill his dream and see mammoths live. When Hans retired on horseback on a mammoth into the sunset in Syberia 2, I thought the story was over, although I wondered how Kate would get home. Therefore, the news about the development of the third part of the series made me happy, and I began to wait for the game.
Syberia 3 came out in 2017 and turned out to be a complete disappointment. Kate Walker’s new adventures were probably synonymous with disappointment that year. I said that the story was over for me, but since the third game came out, I wanted to know how the developers will return Kate to America and what awaits her there. I did not receive answers to these questions – no one received them. Moreover, after the final scene there were many times more of these questions, and the main one was: “What was that?” Seriously, Kate went to the ends of the world without much preparation, but pure enthusiasm. On the other side of the world, she almost died, according to the plot to the third part. Kate, you are not clear where, it is not clear with whom, without work and family nearby. Kate, do you want to … go home? Downshifting attracts in two cases – you either have a lot of money, or not a penny to your heart. The game didn’t talk directly about your wealth, and you hardly have a million hidden away, but Kate, you’re still in the middle. You are as far away from a beggar as you are from Forbes’ 30 under 30 list. It’s hard for me to believe that you don’t care at all about the attitudes of society, life values, and you will happily go wherever you look, along with a bunch of incomprehensible people. Rather, Kate has values: she is for everything good and against everything bad. Only these values specifically put a pig on her privacy and safety.
The developers have scored 90% of what happened in the previous two games. They did not talk about how Kate got from the island, what happened with her on the way. Waking up in the hospital, she immediately finds herself new adventures in the form of Kurt, the guide of the Yukol tribe. After meeting the past events, Walker cares a little more than the guys from Microids and Benoit Sokal. Yes, there was an old acquaintance of Hans, Semyon Steiner, and lawyer Nick Cantin, whom the American services asked to arrest for allegedly embezzling money and murdering Hans Voralberg. Oh, yes, and Oscar is an automaton with a character who also decided not to breed snot because of the past and immediately began to help Yukols with the winter migration of ostriches. By the way, there are no complaints about Oscar: he really, khem, “lives” without a home, and his task is to serve his creator, who no longer exists. And Kate wanted more consciousness.
The final scene is killing on the spot. I repeat: I was interested in the heroine’s return home, and I’m not the only one. Okay, she doesn’t have to fly to the United States, especially since in the states her home for the coming years will be a prison. But there must be certainty! Instead, it ends with Kate being kidnapped by the local army, which caused the Yukols to have problems with migration, as the soldiers have problems with tolerance and multiculturalism. As a result, Kate disappeared again, nothing is known about her fate, with the continuation everything is also dull.
All in all, the Microids shit on themselves a lot. GameSpot and PC Gamer, who named Syberia the Adventure Game of the Year, give the third title 4 out of 10 and 30 out of 100, respectively. There is no hope for ordinary players either – Metacritic scores are 51 for the computer and 48 for the PlayStation 4. It’s not just the plot – Syberia 3 was replete with bugs, poor graphics and such viewing angles that it was possible to publish a brochure “Kamasutra in the games industry: instructions for leveling -designer “. The gameplay itself was also plaguing: events developed slowly, Kate endlessly ran back and forth to talk to the character, pick up a thing from another part of the town, return to the character and talk again. Until you get the right item, the character will not talk a second time. There are no maps in Syberia, so you can’t just take and teleport from point A to point B.
Syberia 3 reminded me of Paradise, but if I played in Paradise as an inexperienced schoolgirl, then I had clear requirements for Syberia 3. Expectations did not materialize, which upset me and other players around the world. Upset so much that Microids and Sokal had to think not only about the plot for Syberia: The World Before, but also about restoring trust among the fans. Without trust, the fourth part threatened to be a disaster in terms of profit. I guess that’s why the developers released a free prologue on Steam – after the horrific Syberia 3 talk and demos about the improvements in the game weren’t enough. Players need to feel the progress themselves, through their screens, mice and keyboards, without relying on the stories of journalists. Even if the fans don’t see anything exciting, they should try.
Hope of Siberia
Syberia: The World Before is drawn to the modern game. It might not graphically look like the industry is one step away from next-gen consoles, but for my taste the picture looks nicer. Here I will describe what I noticed myself during the passage of the prologue. I will not dwell on the plot in detail – you can write a long post about it – but I will focus on the technical details.
Let’s start with the locations: Microids have solved the problem of ugly viewing angles! The prologue looks solid, the camera movement is close to what you’d see in action adventures like Watch Dogs or Grand Theft Auto V. I even tried using the WASD keys, but they didn’t work. I like the developer’s idea, because this way you immerse yourself in the game more. Let me show you an example: Kate needs to roll up a cart, which is located down the aisle and to the right. As before, we guide the heroine with a click. When Kate rolls, we will not be suddenly thrown to another screen – the camera will smoothly follow the girl. There are scenes where it seems that now you will definitely have to change the viewing angle, but the developers are cunning. In such cases, they begin to spin prepared videos, where the camera walks as the director wants. This happens throughout the prologue and, I think, will happen throughout the game.
The game itself has become easier – you learn about the task from the videos, and then it is displayed on the right of the screen. There is no need to search for hot spots by poking – if the player wants to start something too early, Keith will explain what needs to be done instead. The characters around also suggest where to go and what to take. About dead-end phrases “Impossible!”, “Wrong!” and “It won’t work!” you can forget. Just in case, in the corner on the right, there is a button with a question that will tell you the next way. They also brought training so as not to intuitively rotate the mouse on the screen. This is not to say that now the game is like a watched film, which is not interesting to include again. On the contrary, the plot and riddles became more exciting, but we were relieved of the need to simmer our brains over simple puzzles.
I will also add about the general plot. The Microids have set the bold goal of bringing the two stories and time periods together. On the one hand, we have Dana Rose from European Wagen on the verge of World War II. On the other – Keith from the salt mines in the taiga in 2004. First we play with one heroine, then we are moved to another, and after a while everything repeats. Although 67 years old between the events of Dana and Keith, this switch looks smooth: players complete one plot and then go to another time. We understand that one stage of the game by loading the screen has ended, on which we are shown beautiful postcards.
The last thing I will mention is the language side of development. I took the Prologue in Syberia: The World Before in English – I wanted to practice and once again prove to myself that I was not getting my linguist diploma in vain. I liked the dialogues of the characters, the ability to understand them even without subtitles – they spoke so clearly and clearly – and the beautiful speech, which each character has his own depending on the accent. Dana’s lame “r”, the name of Kate’s cellmate, pronounced in the American manner, or the Russian intonations in Katyusha’s words – any of these features pleases the ear. Well, or I’m just a linguophile, which is also possible.
The only thing that intrigued me was the appeal of Love and Babe between Kate and Katyusha. In the UK, they really call Love even strangers without a hint of romance, but Kate is an American, and she talks to a Russian in the taiga mines. Such gentle treatment doesn’t really fit in with what is happening around in the game. Although some of the scenes between the captives and Kate’s diary entry hint that in Syberia: The World Before, we may find a modern agenda. I will not express my opinion directly, but knowing about the Russian law on LGBT propaganda, it will be interesting for me to see how Russian-speaking translators will deal with this topic if Kate and Katyusha are in love with each other. Or it will end up with “18+” and “Forbidden for Children” stickers, as is the case with The Last Of Us Part II.
I have positive impressions of the prologue. Although much is unknown about the future of the game, its plot and technical characteristics, I like what I see. The graphics have become lighter, even in the taiga, the development of the story is clearer and it is technically easier to get along with the game. It’s nice that the developers recalled the golden era of Syberia and return to the original events. But the prologue is only a small part, and the overall perception of Syberia: The World Before may be different. I hope that if my opinion about the fourth part of the series changes, it will only be for the better.
Here is a review and reasoning. Needless to say, the final return of trust in Benoit Sokal and the company, but my heart thawed a little. If I give my hard-earned money for the game again, then first I read the opinions of critics and other players. If you get the opportunity to write a full review, I will be glad. But it’s a long way to think about it – Syberia: The World Before will be released next year, and Microids have not yet named a specific date. Nevertheless, I will be waiting for the game and see how progress is being made in working on it.