When getting out of the first room in a game makes you want to hurl your controller through the window, it doesn’t bode well for the game. If the best things that can be said about Syberia 3 revolve around music and voice acting… This is our Syberia 3 review.
Syberia 3 is the “latest” game in the series – latest in quotes since it’s taken seven years to get the game out the door. Development at Microids was a twisting, winding road that ultimately led to…this, described by developers as a “brand new tale, completely different from the first two Syberia games”. By completely different, they apparently meant “bad” where the first two were generally well-received.
The story begins with Kate, reprised by voice actress Sharon Mann, waking in a filthy hospital without any reference to the earlier games. I can’t say that I was lost since I never played the first games to begin with, but it was kind of weird. I understand that this game picks up almost immediately after the events of the second game, making it all the stranger that nothing was said by way of reminder for those who had played the others or as an introduction for new-to-the-series players.
Regardless, Katie finds herself drawn into the plight of a group of small people called the Youkol, a nomadic tribe of snow ostrich herders. One of them, the ostensible leader, lies on a gurney next to Kate to provide some background on the tribe, the hospital and to make some allusions to the BIG EVIL that surrounds them all.
The story is filled with just about every bad trope you can imagine: Evil doctors, a drunk ship’s captain, a grumpy inventor and so forth. Being the embodiment of poor characters, it should come as no surprise that the disjointed story of the noble Youkol is not particularly good either. In fairness, however, there is a new feature that allows you to choose Kate’s responses in a variety of ways. You can have her speak harshly or in ways to influence NPCs. In a sense, it’s similar to how Mass Effect: Andromeda and how Ryder could use different vocal inflections to manipulate the conversation. However, and this is a HUGE however, all of the possibilities are erased utterly and completely by the “lip synching” (and I say that loosely) of all characters. Characters literally give meaning to “flapping your gums” and it’s all done in close-up 3D too meaning you’ll never escape it. Like rubbernecking an accident on the highway, you just can’t tear yourself away.
Moving Kate or trying to navigate the game world is an exercise in such frustration as to cause eyeballs to bulge from their sockets. The PC version says that using a controller is the best way to experience the game, but you can also use mouse / keyboard….both are equally bad. Kate moves slowly and awkwardly and the camera changes angles at random (and poorly timed) moments. Getting to a puzzle objective often requires such a precise positioning as to be nearly impossible. Targeting the marked spots is just awful. Put these minuscule “hot spots” in large areas, place them in such a way that, if you’re not in precisely the right spot you’ll miss them, and you might as well just wave a bittersweet adieu to Kate. It’s just not worth it.
The sad part is, similar to the dialogue options mentioned above, that the puzzles, if you can find the damned things, are sort of fun. None are overly difficult, often requiring manipulating elements into logical sequence to solve, but they are all buried under the frustration of controls. And don’t get me started on the puzzle-ending bugs either.
Lastly, graphics are something right out of 2002. They are dull and lackluster. Environments hint at better things that sadly never materialize fully. Kate should never have embarked on this dated 3D adventure.
The high spot in all of this is the score created by composer Inon Zur. He rarely disappoints and he brings the world the game’s best feature: The music. I hope he was paid well.
I actually volunteered to play Syberia 3 after watching the trailers. I even went so far as to play for a few hours on PlayStation 4 to see if the experience would be different. Sadly, it was not. It seemed like a game with such promise and that it would somehow be something more than what it ultimately became. To say that I am disappointed is to understate things greatly. Let’s hope that Microids lets the Syberia IP go, or at least wait a good long while before making another one that is worthy of the first two games because Syberia 3 isn’t it.