Syberia 2

2004 Microïds
Designed by Benoît Sokal, Patrik Mé&thé&
Reviewed 2004 May 19

Rating -3 Linearity straight, segmented
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity moderate
Difficulty easy Relevance strong
Interface 3d paned simple Real-time none

Following the events of Syberia, lawyer Kate Walker escorts the peculiar old inventor Hans Voralberg to the legendary island of Syberia.

There's an awkward, glued-on sub-plot about a private investigator sent by Kate's employers to retrieve her, but it doesn't impact your activities at all, nor even Kate's story. Not that there's much to impact; it's mostly a simple travelogue, where a series of unconnected things happen to impede your progress. There's nothing wrong with that, in a adventure game, but the sparse plot doesn't add anything to the experience: the game has to rely on the challenges, the exploration, and the characters. Since the latter are carried over from the previous game with no significant addition, the game rests on the former.

The exploration aspect is solid. The locales you get stuck in are interesting and engaging, even if they are mostly snow and ice.

They tried to put in more challenges this time around, but, unfortunately, they did a poor job of it. Several challenges require exhaustive twiddling; i.e., you exhaustively try every sequence until something good happens, and there's no reasoning to guide your trials -- abstractly, the equivalent of a maze. Several times you have to do something because it's the only thing the game lets you do, not because it makes any sense to do so, following Kate instead of guiding her. Finally, there's a few annoying pixel hunts.

There are two, maybe three, well designed challenges that require actual contemplation and reasoning. There are also a dozen or so obvious lock-and-key actions required. Together with the poorly done challenges there's more to keep you busy than in the previous game.

As before, the presentation is gorgeous, but well conceived and well implemented, as good as any adventure to date. The controls are easy to use. Everything runs smoothly; the program doesn't get in the way of the game. My only complaint re the interface is that there's too much running around, or, rather, that it takes too long to do so. Double clicking will speed Kate up, but it's still too long when you are running back and forth over many scenes, with little action-animations along the way. Double clicking on an exit should pop you immediately into the next scene, after any arrival animations.

Ultimately, Syberia 2 is little more than great eye-candy. There's almost no interesting challenge to it, and a trivial plot that doesn't engage the imagination.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

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    Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.