Hoping to fill that sweet spot between Uncharted and Tomb Raider, Syberia 3 makes the next generation jump with an effort that will underwhelm all but the most hardcore series fans.
As a latecomer to Microids’ Syberia series, I didn’t have a lot of preconceived notions about how it should play based on its predecessors. For the most part, the script didn’t lose me. There were some occasional references I missed, but the story is self-contained enough that I could follow along fine.
American lawyer Kate Walker is saved by the Youkol tribe in the midst of their snow ostrich migration. Grateful for their assistance, Kate helps her new allies on their long journey while avoiding several scrupulous characters.
Syberia 3 has a certain throwback charm. That’s largely due to it originally being slated for a PlayStation 3 release. I’m currently on a Telltales Games kick so the mechanics felt nice and familiar. Syberia 3 isn’t very action –heavy, forcing players to rely on their wits and problem-solving skills to move forward.
That aspect would be more enjoyable if there was a greater feeling of accomplishment from solving the puzzles. In a lot of instances, it was more trial and effort than deciphering a code or pattern. Fixed camera choices also hinder rather than support the code cracking cause.
I liked the dialogue options and the feel of steering a conversation rather than just taking part in one. That leads to the game’s biggest problem.
With so much emphasis on dialogue, the poor lip syncing is distracting. The cameras don’t help by zooming so close to the characters to see how badly their lips match with the vocal performances. Since the dialogue is such a crucial aspect of the film, it’s puzzling it comes off like such an afterthought.
The voice actors are also inconsistent. Kate Walker’s performer might be the biggest offender simply from hearing her the most, but the majority of the performers lack a connection to the material. It sounds just like they’re reading a script, but don’t grasp the emotions tied to the dialogue.
There’s also a weird disconnect in the casting and how they’re matched up with the characters. The not so friendly villain nurse has a kind, warm voice. Characters who are clearly older sound younger and vice versa.
Character animations are somewhat herky jerky. Kate moves stiffly like characters in the original Resident Evil with the walking tank syndrome. Graphics wise the game is solid. Syberia 3 has a grounded look while retaining a video game art style with the more exaggerated character designs. The backgrounds are lush and well detailed regardless of the environment.
Easily the highlight of the game is the phenomenal score by Inon Zur. At times, I’d just pause the game and let the music play. That’s needed at times to calm down from yet another frustrating puzzle.
Syberia is one of those game series with an avid and devoted fan base. Syberia 3 probably won’t win over any new converts, especially at its near $50 price point.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Microids provided a copy of the game for review.