Syberia 3 review: half an innovation

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Steven L. Ken
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The third chapter of the famous saga conceived by Benoît Sokal has finally become reality. After many years from its announcement and several postponements, Syberia 3 has entered the new generation of the videogame world dedicated to graphic adventures. Innovation and change had been the promises of this title, but are we really sure that they have been kept?

Siberia is part of those sagas that can now be defined as "nostalgic". Classic point and click created by the Belgian cartoonist Benoît Sokal and produced by Microids, saw the light for the first time in the distant 2002, immediately collecting a great international success. The incredible adventure of Kate Walker, the absolute protagonist of Syberia, immediately entered the hearts of the players by putting deep roots, which subsequently led to the realization of the second chapter.



Also Syberia 2, released two years after its predecessor, was received by fans with great enthusiasm and at this point many had thought that Kate Walker's adventure had found its end. An end that, among other things, would have made an incredible graphic adventure end “like a hero” loved by the public and critics.

In 2009, however, more precisely on April 1st, the incredible surprise. Microids developer house announces Syberia 3, new chapter of the famous graphic adventure created by Benoît Sokal. And at this point, many have wondered if Kate Walker's adventure needed a third sequel. Did the saga really need a Syberia 3?

Kate Walker, main and secondary protagonist at the same time

As we well remember the events of the first two titles of the saga were focused on the life of Hans voralberg and about his automaton factory and, even if the player played the role of Kate Walker, it can almost be said that the real protagonist of Syberia 1 and 2 was Hans. The life and the journey of man come then told through Kate who, thanks to his investigations, manages to reconstruct Hans's adventures. In the first two chapters of the saga our Kate was almost overshadowed by Hans and, analyzing this detail, we can already try to answer one of the many questions that revolve around Syberia 3.



A necessary sequel?

If we think about it, the players know Hans's story practically perfectly, but little is known about Kate Walker's life. Syberia's intent 3 is to fill this gap, in fact from the first moments of the game it is understood that the chapter will be more focused on the story of the young lawyer from New York, on her life and also on her past, which was left in suspense. So, taking these observations into consideration, Yup! The series needed a further sequel.

Now let's move on to No.. Analyzing the ending of Syberia 2 (I don't go into details to avoid spoilers), it can be said that the saga could very well have stopped there. Hans has finally managed to fulfill his dream and Kate has solved all the mysteries that hovered around the events of the Voralbergs. This would have been a more than acceptable ending for a beautiful saga like Syberia. So in this case No., the game needed no further sequel. Sure, Kate's life would have stayed a bit on the loose, but the saga would still have had a final acceptable and also very emotional.

Syberia 3 addresses current and impactful issues, also through the history of the Youkol people

Connecting to the discourse of the "necessity" of this sequel, let's move on to analyze a bit the plot, the topics covered and the general atmosphere of the title. As we have already said, the first two Syberia mainly focused on the life of Hans Voralberg and his dream of meeting mammoths. In the third chapter these animals have been replaced by the Youkol people, from their traditions and their migratory mission to the sacred land.



In Kate Walker's third adventure the player will come led to reflection on issues as particular as they are current, treated through the habits and customs of the protagonist people. Syberia 3 touches on topics such aspollution, materialism and especially the racism of which Youkol themselves are a victim. Such people show great attachment to their own traditions and in the game it is deepened culture through dialogues and written documentation.

The goal of Youkol, which in the end is also the goal of Kate Walker herself, is to achieve their "promise land"Respecting the ancient traditions even at the cost of risking his own life. This traditionalist aspect of Youkol has also been spiced up with somehumor, highlighted above all by their rather funny language and that will surely make you smile.

The atmosphere of the title does not disappoint and recalls the founders of the saga

The general atmosphere of Syberia 3 is one of the (unfortunately few) strong points of the title, masterfully rendered thanks to the artistic skills of Benoît Sokal. The stroke of his drawings is unmistakable and personally led me to recall the previous chapters with emotion, especially as regards the settings. Uncontaminated nature, snow-covered landscapes and remote villages on top of the mountains are the typical locations of Syberia: for the most nostalgic, the town of valsembor it will certainly bring you back to thinking about the much loved one Valadilene of the first chapter.


An unconvincing plot is the backdrop to extremely stereotyped secondary characters

The atmosphere that encloses Syberia 3 is unfortunately overshadowed by one not exactly compelling plot, which contributed to the lowering of the level of narration which becomes very evident from about the middle of the game. In some points the plot trend seems to pick up slightly but never convincingly, up to a incomplete ending which once again leaves Kate Walker's life in abeyance. This obviously suggests the possibility of a further sequel, even if personally I believe that this conclusion does not make the player remain in suspense of waiting.


Another aspect that has affected the title in a negative way is undoubtedly the characterization of the characters, especially that of enemies that Kate will meet during the adventure. The task of an enemy is to make the player feel always and constantly in danger, which in Syberia 3 does not happen. I "villain”Are shown very few times through dialogues and extremely stereotyped situations, which almost lead to forget about their existence.

More classic and less detailed puzzles

Graphic adventures like Syberia focus their being mainly around the narrative, but also the puzzles play a fundamental role. In this third chapter they mirror those of previous titles and are suitable for all players, from the most to the less experienced of the genre. The puzzles are not particularly complicated and with a little effort and reflection you can find the solution without too many problems. With the absence of Hans Voralberg, however, the puzzles they no longer focus on automata as much but they become quite "common", taking on a par with the classic puzzles found in graphic adventures.

The technical problems have negatively affected a stock that presented valid potential

Now let's move on to the sore point, or thepurely technical aspect of the title. Syberia 3 had many premises to be a good game: as we have already said the typical atmosphere of the previous titles has been recreated to perfection by Benoît Sokal through his beautiful drawings, not to mention the melodies composed by Inon Zur, many of which are inspired by Russian folklore. Because of the atmosphere and emotions we are here! Too bad these were overshadowed from the many technical problems suffered by the game.

Scale and Kate Walker, a difficult relationship

All veterans of the saga will remember that stairs and Kate Walker never got along particularly well. In the first two chapters our lawyer had considerable difficulty climbing and descending the stairs and in Syberia 3 this problem almost seems to have arisen. accentuated. Walking towards a ladder Kate should automatically go up it but very often this does not happen, thus forcing the player to retry several times before the character enters the staircase correctly.

Mishandling of the camera leads to frustrating gameplay

Another very annoying problem concerns the camera andexploration of the game backdrops. As we well remember Benoît Sokal and Microids, during the troubled development work of the title, they had stated that the game would be modernized and completely renewed to better adapt it to new generation technologies. The developers have therefore worked hard to make the game scenarios more explorable than the first two chapters, but this fact has led to a problem.

Unfortunately, a graphic adventure like Syberia has gods limits, limits that are still recurrent in point and click video games and often concern the game backgrounds. In Syberia 3 the locations are much more explorable than in previous titles, but the way in which the camera was handled does not make exploration pleasant. Perhaps to maintain the origins of the saga, the developers have decided to use the fixed camera, thus causing quite a few problems in gameplay in general; very often we find ourselves moving in the background of the scenarios with a Kate who “gets entangled” everywhere and even disappears from our sight. This is because, following the movements of the character from afar with the fixed camera, it is very difficult to notice any obstacles in the environment.

The attempt to merge classic and innovative elements has not succeeded in the best way, creating one incomplete modernization e only half happened. The movements of the character therefore appear not very fluid and unfortunately in the long run they also become quite frustrating to manage.

A respectable soundtrack ...

One of the strong points of the Syberia saga is undoubtedly the colonna sonora and also in the third chapter a masterful work. The melodies were composed by Inon Zur, known for his works in titles such as Dragon Age and Fallout, as well as Syberia 2 himself. The soundtrack that will accompany us during our adventure manages to convey to the player strong emotions, blending perfectly with the context in which a certain melody has been inserted. Many of these music are also sung, inspired by the Russian folklore and recalling motifs typical of indigenous peoples, just like the Youkol present in the game.

… But that is disturbed by poor background audio

Unfortunately, however, even the sound has some problems, especially as regards theaudio of the game itself. The soundtrack is almost perfect, but the background noises present a lot inconsistencies and sometimes they also create a bit of confusion. In fact, very often there are noises that do not correspond to the situation, such as when, for example, Kate's footsteps are heard but she is not walking. Sometimes not even the voice corresponds with the lips of the characters and unfortunately in some points it is really very evident.

To this I also connect the lack of Spanish dubbing, an absence that makes itself felt a lot; on certain occasions it is really difficult to follow the dialogues between the protagonists and at the same time try to read all the game tips that appear on the screen.

Except for the soundtrack composed by Inon Zur, the audio of Syberia 3 it is not very convincing and sadly it wins a spot on the list of problems suffered by the game.

Syberia 3, tiriamo the sum

As a great nostalgic player of the series I can say that Syberia's attempt at innovation did not go in the best way. The modernization of the game was clearly braked by limits that a graphic adventure of this kind imposes, as well as a nostalgic note that led the developers to want to stay too anchored in the past.

This aspect is very evident in the work of fusion of 3D backdrops with the choice to keep the fixed camera, a combination that caused most of the title's technical problems. The artistic work of Benoît Sokal, the atmosphere and the soundtrack slightly raise the overall quality, even if unfortunately they do not manage to settle the score in a decisive way.

7 A fragmented sequel

Points in favor

  • The artistic features of Benoît Sokal are unmistakable
  • Suggestive atmosphere that recalls the previous chapters
  • Exciting and perfectly inserted soundtrack

Points against

  • Frustrating technical problems
  • Unconvincing plot and narrative
  • Stereotyped and practically absent enemies
  • Lack of Spanish dubbing
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