Syberia 3, the latest installment in the Syberia franchise by French developer, Microïds, is an adventure puzzle game where the player interacts with the environment to solve puzzles and progress in the story. The player takes on the role of a former American lawyer, Kate Walker, as she seeks to help the local Youkol people reach the sacred breeding grounds for their giant ostriches, with which they have a symbiotic relationship. With 13 years between this game and its predecessor, Syberia 2, expectations were high for this revitalization of the franchise. Syberia 3 vastly under delivered.
The gameplay is clunky at best, and navigating through the game world can be frustrating and hard to grasp at first. When entering an area, you’re locked from a certain camera perspective, with the exception of being able to pan a few degrees in a given direction as you move within that area. When you turn a corner, or on occasion move far into the pane you’re locked into, the camera angle will suddenly shift to another preset perspective. Several times, that caught me off-guard, and I found myself confused and walking back into the previous pane, creating a jumbled mess of camera perspectives. Other times, I found myself behind objects deep in the camera view, and then struggled to navigate out from behind them.
The puzzles in the game are mixed; on some occasions, the puzzles are well done, and when completing them, you gain a definite sense of satisfaction for being able to finish it. Other times, I found myself clicking on random objects, or spinning wheels in random directions to try and complete puzzles that present no clear way of finding the solution. This left me frustrated, and took away from the enjoyment of the game.
Perhaps the most unsuccessful part of the game deals with the voice acting and related facial animations. The voice acting is subpar at many points in the story: at some points, it’s choppy, robotic-sounding and gives an unfinished feeling. At other points, voice actors who sound entirely American in speech point out how your character’s American accent gives her away as a foreigner. The voice acting is paired with poor facial animations. Often, the camera cuts in close on speakers during conversations. In many of these cut scenes, the speaker’s mouth hardly ever matches their speech, and their facial expressions lack accurate emotional responses to the situation.
There are some elements of the game that are done well. While the visuals aren’t peak of the industry, the environments are unique and interesting, and there clearly seems to be some attention to detail in this aspect of the game. Likewise, the ambient noises and the game’s soundtrack do a good job of giving the game some substance while you’re traveling around the map or trying to figure out a puzzle.
The story was a hit and miss for me when playing through the game. Since I had never played the Syberia franchise before, and Syberia 3 picked up where the previous installment left off, I expected to miss some important background information when playing the game. While this is true to an extent, you do learn more and more about Kate Walker, her history and what transpired in earlier games, and I appreciated that the developers were sure to do that in this game. Other than that, though, the story was lackluster: the driving force behind the story seemed unclear at times. The characters hardly seem to develop, and any additional information one might use to get a better feel for the story comes off flat, mainly due to poor presentation.
Overall, Syberia 3 attempted to bring life back to an old franchise, and ultimately failed to meet expectations. Its championing features of story and puzzle-solving are lackluster, and what little redeeming qualities the game has hardly make up for its many shortcomings. With over a decade between Syberia 3 and its predecessor, I would have expected a better reboot to the franchise. Syberia 3 falls well short of that mark, however. Thus, I think a fair rating for Syberia 3 would be a 3/10, with the only saving grace being the atmosphere that the game creates based on its visuals and soundtrack.
Here is the Syberia 3 Launch Trailer:
Syberia 3 is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC/Mac. The release date of Syberia 3 on Nintendo Switch will be announced soon.