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Syberia: A Female Puzzle-Solving Hero

Syberia is a puzzle-adventure where a young female lawyer figures out different mechanical puzzles to get through gorgeously detailed worlds.

What really shines in this game are the graphics. They are beautifully rendered, and each world has its own unique look. The woods and metals, water and plants are all very realistic.


On the downside, in an era where you can look at whatever you want, and the world seems "alive", this is more like walking through a beautiful, yet static painting. Every "area" has only one angle. You can't rotate at all to look behind things. If the angle they present is difficult for you to work with, too bad. You're stuck. And while in a few areas the water ripples, for the most part it is simply flat. The trees' leaves don't rustle, the clouds don't float across the sky. A few years ago this would have been fine, but in most games today you get that level of immersion. So I did miss that.

The game is all about puzzle solving. A young female lawyer intrigued me as the heroine of the story. This should mean she's smart! Plus she's not "overbuilt" as (ahem) certain other female main characters are. She's a bit on the anorexic side, but generally reasonable.

However, one has to doubt her smartness! She's a lawyer, so supposedly trained for years and years in logical thinking. Yet when her boss calls her to get a status update, she goes, "Duh, I don't know! Where am I going? I'm really not sure" when everyone playing the game knows clearly what her destination is from the material she's read. Instead of talking reasonably with her slimy fiance Dan, she acts like his doormat, and worries that he won't like her being such an 'explorer' (i.e. walking along a river). Her comment when she sees a wet oar? "Oooooh yucchy, I have to get someone to fetch it for me because *I* won't touch something that icky". Her talks with her best friend are shopping-raves about Bloomingdale's. So they start with this character that SHOULD be a great one, and promptly turn her into a dirt-fearing shop-hound airhead girly-girl. Ah well.

The sound is nice if a bit repetitive, and the dialogues are very repetitive. I tended to hop through most of them while playing, just reading the words. There was a LOT of back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth mindless shuttle missions, where you talked to X, who said to talk to Y, who then said to talk to X, who then said to talk to Z. What made it even worse is that I easily played the first half of the game one evening and was planning on saving at the end of the second "area" (there are only 4). Instead, the game crashed on me! So now I had to go back through those entire inane walking puzzles which required no thought at all but lots of clicking.

In general the puzzles weren't very difficult at all. The objects you found were obvious, and in some cases even where there *might* have been some thought involved, they shoehorned you into doing it a certain way. Many of them were random. You find four cards for an organ. Just randomly stick them in until one works, and the rest instantly vanish. If you did that one first, you would never have gotten to hear the other songs.

I won't give away the ending, but they apparently planned to make you buy 2 games to get to the "real end". It in essence halfway through the story. Since the game is so short, they should have sold the entire game at once price, instead of making you buy it twice! And also, it gives this message that "girls that aren't doormats get trounced on by their boyfriends and best friends." Hardly a positive message!

Still, the gorgeous painting-graphics are lovely, and it's always refreshing to see a female lead character, even if she is a bit of an air-head. Hopefully a sequel will come out with the character a bit more mature, and with a world which is more interactive. Until then, I'll pass the CDs along to friends, to let them give it a try!

Buy Syberia at Amazon.com
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