Since I mostly gave up computer gaming back in the early 2000s, the Syberia games passed me by completely. In fact, point and click games – a mostly PC based genre at the time – were lost almost entirely, until Telltale came along with console versions of their adventures. Now of course, they’re on everything.
I’d eyed up Switch ports of Syberia and its sequel on the eShop a number of times, but never got round to buying them until a perfect storm of cheap credit, a sale, and some Gold points netted me both games for a total of 44p. Rude not to, right?
And it turns out it was really rather good. Certainly it has odd “overlaid graphics” glitches where you sometimes walk in front of items you’re actually walking behind, and because you directly control protagonist Kate Walker with a control stick not a mouse click (unlike in the original PC version) you occasionally walk off a screen in one direction only to have the perspective reverse in the next location and you immediately walk back off again, but there’s nothing too annoying here.
What are great, and important for games in this genre, are the story and the puzzles. The plot is unusual and quirky and full of “clockwork punk” automatons, that feel like something from alternative history Victorian times, only transposed into 2003 with mobile phones. The puzzles are mostly non-obtuse, and obtuseness in puzzles is an issue I have with some games like this. I’m all for using items in slightly unusual ways, but some games literally have no real logic behind items and require you to “use everything on everything”. Syberia doesn’t really have that, as every solution makes sense in the confines of the game. That doesn’t mean everything is obvious, it just means it isn’t seemingly random. A Good Thing.
Even though the game is now knocking on two decades old, the graphics (backgrounds especially) are absolutely beautiful. They’re animated with running water, moving machinery and birds flying around, and I expect back on release this was really impressive.
I think if I hadn’t bought the sequel, I’d have been a bit annoyed that the end of the game just happens with not really a proper resolution. But the sequel continues straight on after the first game in the sort of proto-episodic way that Telltale became known for, so it didn’t matter. And yes, I’ve started the sequel.