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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

Microids

 

Developer

Microids

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

April 2004

 

 

- Absolutely gorgeous

- More adventure-game goodness

- Variety of puzzles

- Great soundtrack

 

 

- A little too much backtracking

- Story not quite as strong as the original

- Still have to search for hot spots

 

 

Review: Syberia (PC)

Features: Benoit Sokal (Syberia II) Interview

Review: Post Mortem (PC)

 

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Syberia II

Score: 8.5 / 10

Even in itís earliest development stages, Syberia II looked to outdo its predecessor in graphical quality.  The finished product is no less than absolutely amazing Ė a playable work of art that doesnít skimp on the details, no matter how small.  From reflections in puddles to the way the protagonist, Kate Walker, slips in the snow, Syberia II is a joy to look at. The pre-rendered backgrounds and the high-caliber cutscenes showcase a traditional point-and-click adventure game Ė a genre that is practically extinct Ė that falls short of absolute excellence thanks to a weaker story than the original. (And I really hesitate to describe it as "weaker.")

 

syberia 2 review          syberia 2 review

 

The original Syberia told the story of New York lawyer, Kate Walker, in search of an eccentric inventor, Hans Voralberg, to finalize a takeover of his family business.  While not a detective story, it pulled you in with its fantastic visuals, automatons, and the chance to piece together the mystery surrounding Hans and the mythical land of Syberia (where mammoths still roam).  Syberia II picks up immediately after the events in Syberia, with the barest of backstory fill-ins for new players.  Itís a quick recap that players of the original will appreciate Ė with flashes to Kateís law firm Ė but new players will spend some time getting to know the most pertinent characters: the automaton, Oscar; Hans Voralberg; and Kate Walker.  For anyone who hasnít played the original, playing Syberia II is almost like opening the middle of a novel with the expectation of figuring out what happened in the first 200 pages with only a few clues to go on.

 

Much of the originalís charm was learning about Hans as Kate tracked him down across an interesting landscape filled with strange characters and machines.  That sense of exploration is diminished, however, as you commit to Hansí obsession with mammoths and getting to Syberia (the final goal of the game).  And even though 

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the story may not be as strong as the original, Syberia II is still an interesting sojourn with at least one main sub-plot involving a detective hired by Kateís employer back in New York.

 

The developers took the ďif it ainít brokeĒ route in regard to the interface.  Itís the same point-and-click navigation and interaction found in the original.  This means youíll also slowly scan for hot-spots Ė just waiting 

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for the default icon to change to something else indicating a point of interest.  Most of these hot spots are obvious and easy to find, but sometimes youíll wonder what youíre missing.  Which segues nicely into puzzle design.

 

The meat and potatoes of adventure games are puzzles and dialogue between characters.  Like the original, the puzzles cover the usual gamut of obtuse and head-scratching to straightforward and simple but somehow smoothly integrate with the overall story so the challenges make sense.  Sometimes itís a matter of logic but other times itís trial and error (or just finding the right hot spot).  A few obstacles require a lot of backtracking to overcome, but the frustration that might arise from trooping back and forth is somewhat muzzled by the visuals and superb soundtrack.

 

syberia 2 review          syberia 2 review

 

Right next to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind on my favorite soundtracks list is Syberia II.  Itís a perfect match for the graphics with the way it evokes feeling and emotion from each scene.  But Iím no music critic so Iíll stop there.  Other elements of the sound design are spot-on as well.  The voice actors from the original return, which creates good continuity for the series.  The smaller, subtler effects are also implemented in such a way to heighten just about every pre-rendered scene.  For example, on the wind-up train you can hear the soft whistling of the artic wind pressing against the walls.

 

As Syberia II is an adventure game, youíll also be hearing a lot of dialogue and conversation.  (There is the occasional strange French-to-English translation, but itís not crippling to the experience.)  Each character Kate interacts with comes equipped with a list of topics that can be talked about.  After a topic has been touched on, itís removed from the list.  The conversations arenít particularly illuminating and some seem to drag Ė unlike the in-game books and documents, which are not only well written but also very educational to your predicament. (Designer, Benoit Sokal really put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into these aspects.)

 

Even with itís somewhat weaker story (in comparison to the original), Syberia II still managed to send a chill up my spine as the story closed. Itís a gorgeous sounding and looking second chapter that just begs to be merchandised in a 2-in-1 pack to achieve the full effect of the story.  The experience will definitely be different for those that havenít played the original and arenít as invested in the characters, but I would still recommend Syberia II to adventure fans hankering for a good point-and-click outing.

 

- Omni

(May 30, 2004)

 

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