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Syberia 3

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 19 - 2017

A long overdue return to the world of Kate Walker.

 
Microïds’ Syberia is, in my mind at least, one of the best adventure games ever to be created, and the sequel Syberia 2 was almost as good. Kate Walker’s adventure through an atmospheric, mystical world is something that strikes a chord and stays within the player’s memory. Given this, the arrival of Syberia 3 should have been a welcome return to much loved characters and this magical, snowy setting. However, a lot has happened to Kate Walker in the years since the original two games, mostly involving 3D, controllers and voices, that prevent Syberia 3 from being the sequel it should have been.

 
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How much do you remember from the previous two Syberia games? I have fond memories of some specific scenes, along with an overwhelming warm feeling of satisfaction and joy from playing the games. As it has been some 13 years since the sequel was released, I don’t really remember specifics that much, as I am sure most gamers would not after this amount of time. Of course, new players to the series would know nothing of Kate Walker’s world. Considering all of this, some kind of recap would be ideal when starting Syberia 3. But that is not where the game goes and, for some reason unknown to me, the developers decide to just drop players straight into the latest adventure, offering no real background on our main character or her motivations. For the new players, I would guess this is not too much of an issue, but it certainly would make connecting with the world much more difficult. For the returning players, it is a test of memory to fill in the blank spaces.

 
So the game start with former lawyer Kate Walker in a snow drift and not looking too healthy. She is rescued and wakes up in a creepy clinic, and so begins Kate’s latest adventure which involves helping the Youkol tribe and their Snow Ostriches with their migration. There is also the fact that Kate’s law firm are after her, along with a few other stereo-typical bad guys, so Kate has plenty to deal with as she explores and puzzles her way through this frozen world.

 
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Syberia 3 has made the leap to 3D using the Unity engine, but not to great effect. The magical environments and settings have made the transition well, with a nice variety of different places to explore that fit quite well with the first two games in the series. The problem comes with the characters themselves. Their movement is awkward and wooden, and facial expressions often fail to project the emotions that the dialogue suggests.

 
Control also presents an issue. Perhaps to make life easier for the console releases, the game recommends playing with a controller. However, most PC gamers will find themselves switching between using a controller for movement, which is only held up by the awkwardness of Kate Walker’s movement, and the mouse for selecting interactive things on the screen, simply because of the controllers limited precision. It is not a very smooth system, and it really does break the immersion of the game.

 
The controls may be difficult and the animations clunky, but it is the voicework that is the real crime here. While Kate Walker’s returning voice is just fine, the remaining cast fall far short of the mark. Mismatched voices, a lack of pace and absent emotion all combine to make the voicework unengaging at best and frustrating at its worst. Add into this the poor lip-syncing and conversations are not much to right home about. On the flip side, the soundtrack is quite outstanding.

 
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So Syberia 3 has a lot of problems, but one place it does shine is in the puzzles. Control issues aside, the puzzles range from simple finding the right object to use, to more complex mechanisms that have to be worked out. There is a nice range of difficulty, and most of the puzzles follow a certain logic. There are a couple that bend the mind a bit, harking back to the old days of adventure game puzzles that involve just trying everything with everything, but for the most part they make sense. Further puzzling comes from  the conversations that Kate has with others, in which she is given choices of how to respond that, in a Telltale way, can affect how others react to her further down the line. I can not be certain how much of an effect different responses have on the game overall, but with the inclusion of Kate’s inner monologue it certainly makes conversations more involved than in most adventure games.

 
There are a lot of bugs in Syberia 3, both visual and mechanical. Characters drifting across the scene or buttons stopping responding are commonplace, but these are all things that will hopefully be patched out before long. Still, it is a shame to see so many bugs in a game that already has plenty of other issues.

 
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Bugs, awkward controls, awful voicework and clunky animations really don’t do Syberia 3 any favours. But the real disappointment here is that the magic seems to have disappeared from Kate Walkers world. I am sure it doesn’t help that it has been such a long time since the previous installment, but even the nostalgia factor can’t fix the problems with this game. If a lot of these problems can be fixed, then I am sure that the game will be quite enjoyable. For the moment however, Syberia 3 can only be recommended to those die hard fans of the series who just want to spend more time with Kate Walker.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 



 

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