Syberia (2002) is a must-play for every graphic adventure game lover. The protagonist, atmosphere, puzzles and story are fully flashed out in this cult classic, created by an amazing comic artist Benoît Sokal. Keep reading and find out just why Syberia is so highly remarked by critics and fans alike.
It was a grey and wet day when Kate Walker, an attorney at law, arrived in Valadilène, France. A job that sounded so simple, as obtaining a single signature to confirm the sale of the automaton factory, turned into a search across Europe. That search transformed Kate’s life, just as it transformed point and click genre in the real life.
Syberia is a cult classic, a franchise of beautifully written and animated single-player point-and-click graphic adventure games. The franchise consists of five games: Amerzone (1999), Syberia (2002), Syberia 2 (2004), Syberia 3 (2017) and Syberia: The World Before (2022). The story of Miss Kate Walker, Syberia’s protagonist, begins with the second installment and continues through the rest of the franchise. Syberia was created by Belgian comic book artist and video game developer Benoît Sokal and published by Microïds. This incredibly talented artist, who tightly held the creative reins of the franchise, sadly passed away in 2021, during the development of the last installment Syberia: The World Before. Sokal also created a graphic adventure game Paradise (2006) based on his own novel of the same name.
While Amerzone sets the Syberian universe, the story doesn’t really begin until the second game Syberia. Kate Walker, the protagonist, is a New York corporate lawyer who comes to a small village deep in the French mountains to finalize the sale of Voralberg Mechanical Toy and Puppet Factory with one Miss Anna Voralberg, the sole heirless proprietor. Getting to know Valadilène, Kate uncovers a whole new world, wholly different from our electrically powered one. She notices the world here has evolved around these incredible robots, automatons to be precise, powered by clockwork mechanisms. All this incredible achievement is due to the Voralberg family and their factory.
Kate soon finds out that Anna Voralberg passed away a couple of days prior to her arrival, and is greeted by an elusive notary who informs her of the existence of an heir. The heir is Anna’s younger brother Hans Voralberg, a challenged yet incredibly intelligent inventor. This complicates things for Kate, who now has to follow Hans’ trail of automatons across Central and Easter Europe, riding his clock-work mechanism train with a self-aware automaton Oscar at the helm. She embarks on a journey that will transform her into an adventurer and a hero.
In addition to the main plot, there is a subplot which explains Kate’s personal life and her relationships. This story unfolds through phone calls, where Kate speaks to her mom, her fiancé and her best friend and uncovers the drama going on back in New York. These scripted phone calls are perfectly contrasted with the atmosphere and animation presented on the screen, beautifully capturing Kate’s moods and feelings. Like Kate, the player can only her speaker’s audio, while looking at beautiful, vastly remote and weary scenery in front of them. These phone calls add a layer to Syberia which perfectly explains Kate’s decisions throughout the game. However, the coolest thing about Kate’s cell is that it’s not only plot device, but also a game-play tool, and is necessary when solving some of the puzzles.
Syberia is a breathtaking and beautifully animated game, with an amazing story and flashed out game-play. It has challenging puzzles, a relatable protagonist, excellent and convincing voice acting, a magical soundtrack and incredible animation. Syberia deserves its cult classic status and is a heart-felt recommendation to every graphic game lover.