The new opus of Syberia, a video game franchise developed by the French studio Microids, has been available on PC since March 22, 2022. A bewitching human adventure with sublime artistic direction: fans of narrative games will be won over.
We are in 1937, in Vaghen, capital of the Osthethal — an imaginary European country. The young Dana Roze settles down at the piano, in the middle of the main square. Her fingers tap finely on the keys as she performs the city’s anthem with talent, accompanied by violinist automatons.
This poetic scene is only the preamble to Syberia: The World Before, new episode of this license which celebrates, in 2022, its twenty years of existence. The game is available on PC since March 22 (and it should be released on consoles later this year). Produced by the French studio Microids, Syberia: The World Before is built as a fully interactive point and click narrative adventure.
Everything takes place in a universe that resembles ours, but which turns out to be fully imaginary: we find similar cities, close historical events, but that’s it. The alternate world of Syberia is inspired by steampunk — automatons and other steam engines are there.
Two storylines complement each other. The heroine of the saga, Kate Walker, explorer, resumes her journey where the previous opus left her in 2004. But a new heroine has arrived: Dana Roze. The two characters are linked by a photo, which decides Kate to retrace Dana’s life by investigating the past. However, in 1937, Dana lives in Osthethal where a fascist party begins to emerge.
Although some twists are predictable, Syberia: The World Before fully immersed in the heart of a beautiful story that captivates with its deep humanity. The charm of the universe works wonderfully and the heroines are remarkable. Some chapters deliver moving, even heartbreaking scenes. The orchestral music, which plays a role within the story itself, has something to do with the poetry that emerges from the game.
The art direction is outstanding
There where Syberia: The World Before shines the most is in its refined artistic direction. The level of aesthetic thoroughness and care given to the sets, costumes, sets and environments is exceptional. And we’re not just talking about the little details, but about the creativity mobilized for each place, each wall, each street corner. The steampunk universe of this opus is a treat. Especially since, graphically, the physics follow very well (we will just note a few facial weaknesses at eye level which sometimes lack life).
This artistic direction is a beautiful setting for a rather well-controlled investigation. We interact with the characters and objects through point and click, of course, but in a more developed way than what this mechanism usually implies. Physical exploration – you can (and should) visit the streets, rooms, buildings – are added puzzles and dialogue choices.
To solve the puzzles, you have to pay attention to a number of clues in your environment. The gameplay is extremely rich in this area, without redundant puzzles and constantly deploying inventiveness in each chapter. You will have to trigger mechanisms, find codes, repair a radio system, etc. The level of difficulty is intermediate: it is not often that you will go in circles, although one or two problems will give you a hard time.
In its entirety, Syberia: The World Before Certainly has imperfections, but they seem entirely anecdotal alongside the creativity deployed in art direction, storytelling, and gameplay. This is an original work, complete, touching, which holds the road in all its promises. In short, a little treasure.
The artistic direction, magnificent and meticulous
The gameplay, inventive for the genre
The story is bewitchingly human
The music is central and beautifully composed
Kate and Dana are outstanding
We liked less
Some predictable twists and lengths
Rigidity in the eyes
Syberia: The World Before immersed in a bewitching human adventure, carried by two outstanding heroines — Dana and Kate. But it is in the artistic direction that this opus shines the most, by deploying treasures of meticulousness and creativity for the environment, the sets, the costumes.
The gameplay is the best in point and click: puzzles and exploration are completely wonderful. Without being technically perfect, Syberia: The World Before still comes close to flawless in its genre.