One of the most iconic sagas in the point-and-click world returns to our consoles and PCs, coinciding with the great rebirth of the genre. Will Benoit Sokal and Microids be able to revive the glories of the first two chapters? Let's find out, along with the beautiful Kate Walker, in our Syberia 3 review.
Announced in 2009 for PC and PlayStation 3, Syberia 3 took 8 years to wait by fans of graphic adventures all over the world, not without the fear of never seeing it, between financial problems and negotiations between Microids e Benoit Sokal, cartoonist by profession, father of Syberia's world by passion. Eventually all the gears fell into place, and the Voralberg mechanism of this third installment finally came into our hands. But will it have been worth the wait so long? Enjoy the reading!
Version tested: PlayStation 4
Youkol proverb: away the technical sector away the pain
In this review we will tell you our impressions and emotions strictly in the order in which we experienced them from the moment of download, about 17GB with subsequent 13GB patch. What is the first thing you notice when starting a new game? The graphic sector of course, which here, unfortunately, is bluntly unpresentable. We don't mean for this generation, technically the game is unspeakable for any machine and any year of release. The graphic realization itself, if viewed by “browsing” some screenshots, is of a good level, thanks above all to the artistic conception of the settings (which we will return to in detail later), even if its nature as an old-gen project is clearly visible. However, it is in motion that everything crumbles like a thin sheet of ice, because of a programming work and optimization superficial, poor e listless, unjustifiable with any type of budget. The graphics engine Unity she sobs, snaps and suffers at every step of our heroine, with a frame rate already basic dancer, moreover subject to inexplicable slowdowns and freezes. The bottom, however, is touched with the missing textures in a certain environment, fortunately useless for the purpose of progression at that time.
The treatment that has been reserved for the technical sector is inexplicable. Because?
In terms of controls, the situation does not improve much; unlike the first two chapters, in Syberia 3 we will directly control Kate Walker as in a classic 3D adventure, which would be good for the dynamism of the action but which in practice turns into a continuous struggle against the woodiness of the lawyer's movements and above all against the very serious problems related to collisions. There will be specific points where, for example, you will no longer be able to climb stairs that until a moment before were easily accessible, since the graphics engine will no longer detect the collision, out of the blue, with consequent loading of the last save. In short, it is often discussed in this world of how certain technical problems fail to seriously penalize the gaming experience, but you will understand that this is not the case. Too many problems, not even minimally resolved by the mammoth patch, which will accompany us from start to finish, like a bulky travel companion. The title, in these conditions, simply did not have to be marketed, because in doing so we have lost face Microids, Benoit Sokal and the saga itself, one of the icons of a genre. This situation is even more frustrating, because once the credits passed, like a snowfall of names, the first thing we thought was “what an incredible journey…“.
Travel through Russia to protect Youkol culture
That's right, because net of the obvious technical problems, this is an experience that leaves something in the heart, exactly like its noble predecessors. It all begins just after the end of the second chapter, when Kate, after a thousand ups and downs, manages to fulfill the wish of her friend, the brilliant inventor Hans voralberg, whose life was tormented by the desire to meet the last existing Mammoths, on the island of Syberia off the cold Russian coast. What the opening video makes us understand is that our Kate, returning to civilization, is surprised by a storm that reduces her to death in the solitary Siberian steppe. But just when the cold is about to take over, the Youkol tribe, who already helped her in her railway wanderings, notices her and providentially helps her, first entrusting her to the care of the elderly shaman Ayawaska and then in the hands of the same clinic where their young boss is being treated, Cork. Right here our journey will begin, in which we will accept to accompany the little Youkols along the tortuous path that will bring the bizarre snow ostriches, fundamental for their lifestyle, towards the lands where they will be able to procreate; a tradition that originates in the mists of time.
An exceptional Kate Walker works for the good of the Youkol, amidst tribal mysteries and local militias
A journey fraught with dangers, among paramilitary groups who want to make the tribe sedentary, terrifying doctors who should be disbarred, disturbing gods and the now ruined remains of the post-Soviet Russian periphery, filtered through the mind of Sokal and through the eyes of our protagonist. It is our Kate who makes this saga so characteristic, an atypical and unique character, ex-lawyer now an all-round adventurer, who left a well-established career, a boyfriend and her family in New York, to build a new life of her own, far from any constraint, which brought to meet extraordinary people. And we were delighted to find a more beautiful and determined Walker than ever in this chapter, endowed by the writers with an excellent script, full of personality and irony; like finding a great friend after a long time. IS I am pleased that even the supporting actors have received the same treatment, starting from the tribe of little ones, of which we will gradually discover culture, customs, fears and hopes, up to drunk and tormented by remorse ship captains, passing through former Olympic champions, pride of the USSR at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. this varied company moves on one mysterious plot, interesting and full of twists, absolutely in line with the levels to which the saga had accustomed us, whose real flaw is a villain as threatening as he is clumsy and less present than you think. Obviously we will not passively witness the events, on the contrary, they will all depend on our ability as a problem solver!
The gameplay is the most classic you can expect from the genre. Wandering around the environments, arguing with the control system and with bugs, we will have to collect items and reuse them to solve problems and puzzles. The latter go from excellent to ingenious, and this, for a graphic adventure, is gold. The enigmas based on mechanisms, previously known thanks to the clever inventions of Hans Voralberg, return more varied and numerous than ever, testing our neurons and sometimes even manual dexterity. For example, aboard the Kristal transport ship, we will find ourselves stranded in the middle of the ice. Here we are then go below deck and operate the icebreaker of the boat, equipped with 3 gears, to be changed quickly so as not to overheat the engine, making it turn off (we put the video below, but if you don't want to spoil the surprise, go ahead).
Like any self-respecting Syberia, here are ingenious and original puzzles like an invention of Hans Voralberg
Or we will face high tension situations, overwhelmed by an incredible atmosphere. This is the case of the shop of a watchmaker, who, in the middle of a dialogue, will have a heart attack; at this point he will ask us to urgently find his medicine, with the incessant ticking of clocks and pendulums to make us anxious and in a hurry (although we know that there is no game over, this is the magic), while we will look for clues in every corner of the shop, up to the brilliant lighting. There is also a new entry for the saga, that is multiple choice dialogues, in which to think carefully before speaking, if we want to convince the interlocutor of our intentions, of which we will be able to discover tastes or weaknesses thanks to the optional analysis of certain tests, earning Trophies that will repay us for our zeal. In conclusion, puzzle side this third act does not disappoint, after a somewhat bland start, but useful to get used to the commands. The only flaw are perhaps the settings with dimensions that are a little too generous and dispersive, which make the pace drop slightly until we understand where to go and what to do. But guys, what an atmosphere.
Siberian (arts) education
The transition from 2D backdrops made by the skilful hand of Benoit Sokal for the first two chapters, now leave room for fully 3D environments, with all the flaws we have seen, but maintaining the unique, unmistakable and inimitable style, typical of the Belgian cartoonist. Accompanying Kate we will find ourselves in decaying clinics but aseptic, pervaded by an unhealthy and "wrong" atmosphere. We will wander around the yurts of fervent Youkol market, where it seems to perceive the smell of incense, spices and wild animals that pervades them, and then strolls through the streets of a port town, among typically Russian architectures contaminated by the passage of the brilliant Hans, following his footsteps backwards. But it is in the city of Baranour, contaminated by the explosion of the nearby nuclear power plant years earlier, and in yours disused amusement park, also signed Voralberg, that many of you passionate will leave your heart. The ruined art of the place, between steampunk and Soviet style, will be the backdrop to the most exciting events of the whole game, such as the meeting with a never forgotten friend and certain superb puzzles.
Artistically Syberia 3 has an exceptional impact on the eyes and ears
The threat of radioactivity contrasts with the whispers of a happy age, when in that park children and families rejoiced without thoughts thanks to the inventions of a forgotten genius, who never wanted to be remembered. Here time has stopped, keeping intact propaganda posters and friezes of an era that has now collapsed along with the Berlin Wall. This has always been the magic of the saga, that of telling an original and unique story within a little known, hermetic and mysterious context like the Russian one, accentuated by the imaginative and surreal ideas of the screenwriters and yet so coherent. To contribute to the immersion in this fantastic setting, here are two oxygen tanks full of melodies by Inon Zur, Israeli composer well known in the world of video games. Author of the soundtracks of acclaimed titles such as Syberia 2, Crysis, Fallout 4, Champions of Norrath and Soul Calibur V, in this title he gave his best, accompanying the progress of the plot with unforgettable and simply beautiful traces, including one of the most touching main themes of recent years. Just write now, only the music has the right words.Verdict 7.5 / 10 "Tooktook! Beek koolet!" Comment For this comment I will put aside the elegant editorial plural, to put my face as a lover of the saga. A relationship that leads me to start the first two chapters once a year, if only to get lost in the atmosphere of Valadilène, a gloomy village between France and Switzerland, chatting with Hans and arguing with the pedantic automaton Oscar. This third chapter was a swing of emotions, between the anger for an unjustifiable technical sector and the joy for a story and enigmas absolutely worthy of the series, which outline a world that is alive, fascinating and full of fantastic characters, to which it is impossible. do not get attached. Although the plot is enjoyable without having played the predecessors, the advice is to start from those, also to be able to swallow its graphic limits more easily. If instead you find yourself in my words, buy it without hesitation, you will not forget it easily. Ready to leave for Siberia again? Pros and cons ✓ Kate Walker is an extraordinary character
✓ Ingenious and interesting puzzles
✓ The game world has a unique charm
✓ Incredible soundtrack x Incomprehensible technical sector, which penalizes the entire experience, including ...
x ... Bugs, slowdowns, freezes and ghost textures
x Definitely improvable controls