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Syberia 3

Score: 45%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Microids
Developer: Microids
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

The third game in the Syberia series, Syberia 3, has finally been released to the market, and it has been a long time in the making. The original Syberia was released in 2002, with the sequel coming in 2004. Fast-forward 13 years and many obstacles later, and Microidís Syberia 3 goes multi-platform to many expecting fans. So the question, of course, is "Was it worth the wait?" Letís dig through the mysteries and puzzles surrounding the game to uncover that here.

First of all, Syberia 3 looks decent, but slightly dated. The long production cycle is likely the reasoning for it, but should not be blamed for anything negative. In reality, the overall presentation in the game is well done visually and there really were no moments where any graphics were distracting from the story. The character models were satisfactory, and the environments ranged from decent to respected. Unfortunately, the game did fail hard outside of the visuals.

Because Syberia 3 is a game that was originally voiced in a non-English language, playing with the dubbed version tends to completely disengage, rather than entrance, the user into the story. Unfortunately, poor dialogue and voice acting, on top of lip syncing that does not match, causes the gameís interactions to almost be laughable at times. At first this was all distracting, to say the least, but as time went on and progress was made, the lip syncing was less and less of a problem. However, the voice acting and dialogue (Iím looking at you, Youkols!) was still disastrous.

Adding to this was a range of engaging presentation to, more often than not, questionable camera angles and strange glitches during camera transitions. The occasional pop would happen visually when the camera moved, but inexcusably the audio would cut out mid-sentence and start again after a moment or twoÖ sometimes seconds. The animations were also cause for concern too. While main character Kate Walkerís animations were pretty good, a lot of the hand-keyed animations could have used some love. At one point, you actually control Kateís old male robot pal Oscar, but his animations are clearly reused from Kateís set, so it is laughable how silly a robot looks running like a hip-swaying human woman.


Gameplay:

All of the above aside, the reason you want to play Syberia 3 is for the mind-bending experience. Syberia 3 is an adventure game that heavily relies on puzzles and problem-solving skills to traverse the storyline. Set in a world where steampunk mechanicals are the norm, you once again control the American lawyer Kate Walker through the countryside. During her adventures, she ends up being saved by a group of traveling nomads called the Youkol tribe. In gratitude, Kate decides to help one of the Youkols named Kurt, who she discovers in a sanitarium she too is held captive in. Kurt is missing a leg, and the American promises to get his long-awaited prosthesis to help his tribe make their periodic journey for their giant, ride-able snow ostriches to breed in their 20-year migration.

The overall plot isnít that far fetched for a game of this type, and at its core is worthy of a fetch and retrieve puzzle-based adventure game like Syberia 3. This is why it is hard to understand why the story felt a bit jerky as it progressed. The overall goal always remained the same, but the direction and paths it took sometimes felt a bit contrived. It could be that often times youíd have to navigate Kate Walker back and forth through the same map time and again. Unfortunately, there were many times when an interactive object wasn't interactive until something else triggered it to be on. While this may seem good on paper, it was a frustrating experience to have tried to find everything the first time in an environment, only to later need to rediscover something that is now available in the setting you previously had thoroughly searched.

The puzzles are actually sometimes neat in that you need to perform a series of steps using a machine or other environmental feature to interact with. For example, at one point you need to find the parts and engage a stamper for papers to get past a border guard. You wonít just click on the stamping machine and itís done. Instead you will put levers, turn knobs, replace parts, and figure out the sequence to move on. For the most part, this works and is a neat break from the norm of instant gratification in games. However, it does come with some consequences. Iíll come back to this below in the Game Mechanics section.

For now, however, just know that many of the puzzles were fun and made perfect sense, while occasionally there were puzzles that were sometimes less than obvious to the point of being annoying. There was one, in particular, that I searched and searched for the clue and answer to a simple known problem of setting a clock to the correct time to unlock the next step. The clues were extremely vague, and to this day, I think unless you were born in England, youíd never know there is a specific tea time. Okay, maybe I missed something or maybe I didnít, but it annoyed me so much (due to wasting time searching over and over again) that I looked at a walkthroughÖ and even that had no mention of where this time came from. It was things like this that really caused the score of this review to take a hit, but it isnít the only thing. That said, the story still was engaging enough and progressed in a way that wanted me to see it through to the end.


Difficulty:

Most of the puzzles in the game end up being set up by inventory items that you come across and search for in the environments presented in Syberia 3. Searching the held items is another way that sometimes can reveal clues that would otherwise go missed (except for tea time, of course!). As such, many of the puzzles and obstacles presented in the game are pretty straightforward and easily attainable. In most of these cases, itís clear to see that it will take a certain amount of back and forth through each setting to fetch and retrieve items and put them in their place.

That said, there was also many times where I knew what to do and just had no clue how to do it. Often times, the presentation wasnít evident, or hints were not solid enough to give enough evidence of how to proceed. It was also due to camera angles a couple of times, because I just never saw something that should have been relatively standing out in the environment. Because of this, I have to admit, I found myself on a walkthrough site a number of times during the gameplay. Certainly, without time constraints for getting the review done, I would not have done so.

Call it what you will, but there is pride in figuring out things on your own. When playing games of this type, I donít want it to be easy. Thatís no fun. But I can only imagine that gamers will also get frustrated with Syberia 3 and may never make the effort to finish it. The unfortunate reality is that a few of the times needing walkthroughs also resulted in disgust at how it can be thought the solution would be found in any reasonable amount of time.


Game Mechanics:

While the developers suggest using a gamepad like an Xbox Controller on the PC version (and I did use one), the level of control for looking around the environment sometimes was tedious because it was hard to click things if those interactive objects were close together, because there was a combination of using the Right Analog Stick to both look and select, but your characterís position had to also be in check. So thatís where I would sometimes grab the mouse and click away, making it easier. On the flip side, however, was with turning knobs, gauges, or other rotatable objects. It was cumbersome with the controllerís analog stick sometimes, but literally impossible with the mouse to make a rotating motion. Thatís no joke. I never once was able to make something rotate 360 degrees with the mouse. Iím not sure if there was some sort of conflict between the controller and mouse both being active, but I kind of doubt it, to be honest. It was just horrible to control the game with a keyboard and mouse.

The camera anglesÖ oh, the humanity. Occasionally, I thought to myself, "That was great framing!" Unfortunately, the norm was a camera that couldnít decide where it should go. For those who have played the original Resident Evil games with the static cameras, you will get the idea. Personally, I loved those old RE games and the controls they presented. However, Syberia 3 takes this a step further and will flip the camera to the opposite side if you enter an area from a different direction sometimes. It was so extremely disorienting, I wish I had bread crumbs or spray paint in my inventory to help get my bearings when reentering parts of the environment.

There thereís this... Syberia 3 is plagued by bugs. There is no other way to say it. The bugs range from choppy cutscenes and disappearing NPCs to being stuck on a roller coaster with no way to exit except to restart the game. There is a big range of things between those extremes as well. No game is ever perfect and if a game strove to be perfect, it would never release. Syberia 3 has had a very long development cycle and I can only imagine the stress of getting it done once and for all. But it should not have been released yet. Hopefully, updates will come to fix some of the issues for those who havenít played it yet.

So we come to the end and really still havenít answered the question, "Should I play it?" If you are a fan of the series, the answer is yes. There is enough enjoyment and engagement in the game to definitely interest a lot of gamers that are into brain-teasers. However, if you are going to jump into Syberia 3 thinking it is something it isnít (this is not Tomb Raider style puzzle-solving, folks), then my suggestion is to steer clear.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP SP2+, Pentium or AMD Athlon X4 Ė SSE2 instruction set support, 6GB RAM, AMD R7 260X Ė NVidia GTX 550 Ti 2go, 40GB HDD, DirectX DX9 (shader model 2.0) capability, Any sound card, 720p-1080p resolution
 

Test System:



Windows 10 Pro 64-bit; Intel Core i7-5930K CPU @ 3.50GHz (12 CPUs); 32GB RAM; nVidia GeForce GTX 980, Xbox One Controller

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