When was the last time you played a great adventure game? I’m not talking about a quasi-adventure, where a game claims to be all about the story but is really a first-person shooter. I’m talking about an adventure where the story is the main attraction and the goal is to guide your character from the beginning of their unpredictable journey to the end. Ever since I was a little girl puzzling my way through such classics as the King’s Quest Collection, the Space Quest Collection, the So You Want to Be a Hero series, and even the raunchy Leisure Suit Larry set, I’ve kept a special place in my heart for good old-fashioned adventures. Finally I had the opportunity to play one of these games on the Xbox when Syberia II was released. It truly is spectacular, and with an incredible storyline, amazing visual graphics, and original puzzles, it is sure to appeal to fans of this genre.
I have to admit that I didn’t play the first game in the series, but that isn’t a problem for players who pick up this sequel. Before starting your adventure you have the option to view a synopsis of the first game, which will explain the back-story before you dive in to your new adventure. Watching the movie clip will give you an idea of the time and care that went into creating this captivating game. The cut-scenes are truly awe-inspiring and deliver some of the best cinematography I have seen in a video game. Syberia 2’s plot is unique and interesting: Kate Walker (a lawyer from New York) embarks on a quest with her elderly friend Hans Voralberg to find the mythical land of Syberia. Together they travel through many strange lands on a mechanical train, to search for the last of the Syberian mammoths that Hans recalls from stories he heard in his childhood. Along the way they encounter many complications and obstacles, and the player must solve puzzles to further the plot along. There are also many opportunities to interact with the characters that are encountered, a vital feature that is often lacking (or underdeveloped) in adventure games.
One thing you will notice when you start the game– and indeed will continue to be amazed by– is the graphics. They are truly stunning and unique, and both the environments and the characters are equally noteworthy. The landscapes are detailed, realistic, and dynamic. The celebrated cartoon artist Benoit Sokal designed them, and his fans will not be disappointed with his accomplishments here. Much of the story takes place in snowy Arctic environments, but they are anything but bland. You may notice snow falling in real time, characters creating footstep markings when they walk, and vegetation rustling in the wind. These details are not overwhelming but add to the atmosphere of the game. One detail worth noting is the way that important quest objects are handled in this game. Kate Walker will need to collect items along the way to help her solve puzzles and further the plot. In old school adventure games such as those in the King’s Quest series, it was usually quite obvious which objects you needed to interact with because they stood out from their surroundings. Not so in Syberia II, where a rushed player could easily miss an important object because they blend so well. These quest objects are truly part of their environment.
Don’t take this advice lightly, because puzzle solving is the driving force behind the plot development in this game. If you can’t problem solve you won’t finish the game, it’s as simple as that. Syberia II generously starts you out with simple dilemmas that have fairly obvious solutions. The earlier puzzles will have you walking around, talking to people and interacting with objects in a fixed order. Players don’t need to worry about forgetting to complete a puzzle before they progress, at least in the first stages in the game. This is because the game is extremely linear-there aren’t any side quests to complete or open environments to explore as in games like Morrowind. This may leave players frustrated, because if they are missing a vital piece of information or a quest item they will not be able to progress. There is a good combination of easy and challenging puzzles in Syberia II, but some of the more difficult puzzles are admittedly irritating because they are essentially random. A few of the puzzles require you to arbitrarily press buttons and pull levers, and there aren’t any clues that would guide you to the correct sequence. Seasoned gamers will be able to work at these puzzles until they are solved, but casual adventurers may need to consult one of the many walkthroughs available on the Internet to keep from giving up.
Aside from these criticisms (which apply to many adventure games), persistent and methodical players will be rewarded with a unique and satisfying story. Syberia II is one of the first games that I have completed in a long time, and not once did I want to give up. I was so engrossed with the plot that I wanted to see what happened at the end, and I was pleased with the entire experience. Although there isn’t much replay value in the game this is reflected in the price, which is reasonable at CDN$39.99. The amazing storyline, visual graphics, and challenging puzzles in this adventure game will entertain you, and combine to make this a game worth checking out.
- Syberia II
- by Beauty
- Published on March 1st, 2005
- Syberia II
- Microids / XS game/take2
- 4 / 5
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