Now here’s a nice little game that you might have heard of, Syberia.
I must admit to never having heard of it until it came out on the Switch towards the end of last year. It’s a graphic adventure, which probably explains why I hadn’t heard of it. It was originally released back in 2002 when I was at university. We were well into Grand Theft Auto at the time, so a slow paced point and click had no chance of getting a look in.
Anyway, as I said, it was originally released in 2002, and since then, it has been released on pretty much everything that can play a game including Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, Switch, Windows, mac OS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and DS. Has everyone got at least one of those machines? OK then you can play this game.
You take control of Kate Walker, a lawyer sent to a small town somewhere in France, to close the deal for her company, who are buying a toy factory. The toys this factory produce are unique and special, what I’m going to refer to as wind-up. Unfortunately the owner of the factory has passed away before you arrive, but there’s word of her brother still being alive. The game is the story of Kate Walker trying to find the brother.
The game works with pre-rendered graphics. That means that all the environments you travel through have been drawn ahead of time as part of making the game, rather than by the console as you play the game. That results in you getting some stunning settings while all your console has to do is animate the image of Kate Walker moving around the screen, which is why it can be made to run on pretty much anything with a screen. It isn’t taxing the Switch and it didn’t tax the PS2 or DS.
The pre-rendered backgrounds are beautiful and do a wonderful job of creating the world your character lives in. The soundtrack does a great job too. It’s very atmospheric and cinematic giving you the feeling of being in an epic experience. The story will drag you in, and while it might not keep you playing to the point of completion in a single sitting, it will keep you dippining in to find out what happens next. This isn’t one, but I can see why these types of games generally became episodic and released throughout a year. You don’t need the whole game to be there the first time you play. You won’t be finishing it anytime soon.
There are plenty of puzzles to solve, with none of them being particularly hard, especially if you’ve got somebody playing along with you and helping out. However it never feels too easy, like you’re just going through the motions of playing, rather than actually being challenged.
It really feels good to be playing something that doesn’t require me to jump over something at just the right time, or keep moving and shooting to survive. This is the kind of game you can play on a family game night. Obviously it only takes one person to control the game, but solving the puzzles and talking to the people you encounter is something the whole family can get in on. The best thing is that it does that without ever being childish or cartoonish. It’s not fun for the family in the same way that Toy Story is fun for the whole family. It might be something you play with slightly older children, if the ones you have are still talking to you at that age.
Syberia is the first graphical adventure I’ve played since KGB on the Amiga, and it feels great to get back to it. Now I’m a grown up I can actually take the time to think about things and figure them out, which isn’t something I’d tolerate as a child or even young adult.
If you want a break from the stress of modern gaming, you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s like a deep breath of a game. It is to gaming what saunas are to real life. If Sudoku were a game it would be.. wait.. never mind. Because it’s so old, you can get a copy of it for almost no money. The Switch version is the most expensive version because it’s newest, but you can get the entire Syberia trilogy on PC for about £15. I recommend checking them out, and plan to get my mits on the second one soon. I need a bit of a breather after Axiom Verge.