Syberia 3 (Playstation 4 Review)
Syberia 3, the first 3D instalment of the series, is an adventure game by Microids with the story coming directly from the mind of Belgian comic artist Benoit Sokal. A game almost 7 years in the making, postponed numerous times due to lack of funding, you’d think that it would be spit polished and shining bright by now.
You play as Kate Walker, a kick-ass, upbeat Superwoman contender, as she travels across Siberia. Syberia 3 focuses on Kate’s travels with the nomadic Youkol people, and their struggle to be accepted by the new world. The Youkol have a herd of Great Ostrichs, large towering beasts, that they use as mounts, as pack animals, and their wool is used for the Youkol clothing. The Great Ostrichs make a migration for their mating season. This is an especially rare occurrence and an honour for the Youkol to accompany their herd during this migration. The lore of Syberia 3 states that it is uncommon for people to witness more than 2 migrations, due to the length of time between the mating seasons. The Youkol have a symbiotic relationship with the Great Ostrichs. As I have said previously, the Ostrich’s offers some benefits to the Youkol, and in return the Youkol protect the herd. The Youkol are a short people, which is a part of the reason why they are not universally liked by the people of Siberia. To be dismissive of the Youkol, and the plight their people face, is encouraged by the governing bodies of the region.
Kate is travelling through Siberia and you join her in the third episode. The Youkol rescue Kate from near death by retrieving her drifting body from a river. The reason that Kate needs rescuing is from the events of the previous games. The Youkol Shaman takes care of Kate, using her mysticism to contact the spirits to help Kate regain her health. However, the Shaman is not able to heal Kate completely and the Youkol tribe take Kate to a hospital, one that is run by a laid back physician, with the help of a maniacal power hungry Dr. Olga Efimova. Her name is usually spoken in full during voiced dialogue scenes, and this can become particularly grating, due to her being the main antagonist. Kate awakens in this hospital a couple of months after initially being rescued by the Youkol. Her roommate is the Youkol guide, a young man by the name of Kurt, who has been brought to the hospital as he lost his leg and is waiting for his prosthesis to be attached.
Kate is subjected to a number of tests, and the player to a number of puzzles and problem-solving missions, in order to leave the floor of the hospital. The puzzles throughout Syberia 3 all follow a familiar pattern: one more difficult problem, followed by two or three simpler ones. What makes most of the puzzles difficult has nothing to do with the challenge, but rather the games poor camera angles, which do not allow you to see everything.
The character dialog is poor also, being one of the worst examples I’ve seen in recent times. There is one aspect of the dialog I do like however, which is the fact that the spoken/audio of the dialog doesn’t tie up 100% with the subtitles. It makes for some enjoyable reading, as it feels that the subtitles are what the characters are actually wanting to say, causing me to have some enjoyable chuckles at the games expense. The character animation is comical too, with poor quality work on the mouths meaning the dialogue is out of sync. It may look closer to what is being said in other languages, but for English it didn’t match at all.
You are able to run which helps speed the game up, especially when you are searching a room for the fourth time looking for an item that could help. However, have you ever played a game where the protagonist’s biggest enemy is stairs? Well if you have ever wanted to then Syberia 3 is for you. This is because as you run around each area of the game you will undoubtedly need to go up or down stairs. This is where those pesky bugs come into play yet again, stopping you from climbing up the stairs as if there is a wall between Kate and the steps. I guess it is true that the first step is the hardest.
Having never played the previous two Syberia games, I can only comment on Syberia 3 as a standalone game. I have to say overall it is currently not very polished. It does have two things going for it though, the story and characters adding a great amount of depth to a game which otherwise would fall into obscurity otherwise. The game also has some amazing styling and design. Artistically, this game’s comic book style oozes charm. The contrast, the outlines, the deep colours, these are all great and I loved every one of them. The story is gripping and transforms this unloved cocoon of a game into a somewhat fledgling butterfly. Yes it has its issues, many of them in fact, but it is still an enthralling game which should be witnessed. Now to just fix those glitches.