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Score: 65%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: DreamCatcher Interactive
Developer: Microids
Media: CD/2
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics of Microid's Syberia are, in a word... breathtaking. The pre-rendered backgrounds (similar to that of the Resident Evil console games) are very impressive in all aspects, but the environments are even more dramatically displayed thanks to well-placed camera angles. Trust me when I say the visuals will make your jaw drop. In-game character models aren't nearly as impressive, but very nice nonetheless. The cut-scenes also have an outstanding quality, and the water effects in the game are surreal.

Where the game's graphics leave off, the game's sound takes over. Syberia's got a great balance of elemental background music and sound fx that are far from distracting. And from start to finish, Syberia treats you to voice acting throughout the entire game instead of having to constantly read annoying text dialog. Granted, this voice acting isn't the best on the planet, but it does suffice. The only real gripe I can have (and it's a small one) is that the dialog sounds a bit 'fuzzy,' as if the audio bit-rate used for voices was of a lower quality than that of the rest of the game.


If you were to combine the visuals of Myst with the puzzle-solving adventures of the King's Quest series, you'd be smack dab in the middle of the gameplay content of Syberia. Not your typical starring adventure character, Kate Walker is actually just a lawyer sent on a mission to close a deal for her law firm. Little did she know that this deal would end up having her scour the countryside, solving multiple puzzles, while searching for the answers she needs to close this case and find the rightful heir to an automaton factory.

As Kate Walker, you must talk with many characters, and essentially do their bidding (often in the form of fetching and retrieving) in order to progress through the game of Syberia. But this isn't your typical 3rd-person adventure game. Instead of plugging in a controller, you only need grab your mouse and dive right in. Essentially, Syberia takes advantage of it's point-and-click interface by allowing the user to mouse-over objects to interact with them. This interface makes jumping into the game extremely easy, but it's not without its problems.

You see, even though the mouse cursor changes shape when hovering over interactive objects, these objects are not always that easy to see from the start. It's this realization that will most likely lead you to do what I did, and constantly move the mouse around the entire area of each and every separate screen. This gets annoying, as it would have been much simpler had the interactive objects 'stuck out' better, naturally leading your eyes to them on the screen. A slight twinkle coming from a metal key, or a more defined switch, for example, would have turned this average game into an extremely fun campaign.


As mentioned above, Syberia is very easy for anyone to start playing. Its mouse-only user interface makes for simple controls and even simpler navigation. But as also mentioned above, the lack of distinguishable interactive objects increases the game's difficulty tenfold. The game is also very event-driven in design, so you will often need to return to spots where previous interactivity didn't exist... which can sometimes make Syberia's puzzles hard to figure out. In other words, there will be times, for example, when a door is magically unlocked the next time you return to it, even though you did nothing to encourage this behavior.

In all honesty, I found myself quitting the game extremely often and referring to a walkthrough that I downloaded because I had reached points in the game where I became stuck. As it turned out, most of the time I had completely overlooked (or plain missed) something that I may have never found without the walkthrough. A prime example was at the point where you are required to turn on a light, but the area was too dark to see the switch that was needed to light the area.

Game Mechanics:

Syberia's user interface is probably one of the most user-friendly I've ever encountered. The point-and-click interaction on the screen allows anyone to be able to jump in and solve the many puzzles present in the game. As you mouse-over an interactive object, your mouse's cursor will change, signaling that something will happen upon your clicking. Unfortunately, this interaction isn't always overly obvious, which makes Syberia not only a very hard game, but at times nearly impossible to play without some sort of hint or reference to a walkthrough.

I think that had the developers incorporated some techniques for making interactive objects stand out better, Syberia could have been an excellent game. As it is, even fans of Myst and King's Quest may find the story-driven puzzles and interactivity more frustrating than enjoyable (well, at least I did). Had Syberia been a console game, I'd recommend renting. But being a PC game, only true diehard puzzle-solving adventurers should consider buying Syberia. The concept is novel, but the frustration of some game elements is too great to overlook.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP0; Pentium II 350 MHz (PIII 500MHz recommended); 16MB (32MB) compatible Direct3D (DirectX 7) 3D graphics card; 64MB (128MB) RAM; 400 Mb free on hard disk; 16x (24x) CD-ROM; DirectX 7 compatible sound card

Test System:

Pentium II 400MHz CPU; Windows 98 SE; 384MB 100MHz SDRAM; Creative's 3D Blaster Annihilator 2 32MB 3D-Accellerator AGP Video Card (nVIDIA geForce 2 chipset); Ensoniq AudioPCI sound card; DirectX 8.0a; using Hewlett Packard CD-Writer Plus 9100 (reads 32x, writes 8x, rewrites 4x) as main CD-ROM; 1 gameport; 2 USB ports; ThrustMaster FireStorm Dual Power Gamepad (USB connection); 56k modem

Windows Sim Golf Windows Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated