Syberia: The World Before is an adventure game developed by Microids Studio Paris and published by Microids. Designed and directed by the late Benoît Sokal, the series has traditionally followed the adventures of Kate Walker, an American lawyer from New York, who has found herself stuck in a salt mine after the events of the third game. As happy as one can be, being forced to slave away at rock mining, Kate quickly finds herself entangled in tragedy so great, she sets off on a soul-searching mission with the very last object given to her: a painting of Dana Roze, dating all the way back to 1937.
In typical adventure gameplay, players navigate the world as Kate and interact with their environment to advance the story. Sometimes players will need to switch to the past and play as Dana, a 17-year-old aspiring musician who looks strikingly familiar to Kate. Sometimes you’ll need to talk to people, or other times you’ll need to solve puzzles that range from simple to complex. Regardless, this game is no Myst and players will have no problems advancing the game’s story. Besides, as a narrative adventure game, the majority of the player’s time will be spent watching pretty vistas or in cutscenes. Controlling characters feels heavy, however, and it can be frustrating to navigate through tight spaces at times.
Kate Walker (still voiced by Sharon Mann) is as helpful, if not too easy to get attached, as she has been for the last 20 years. She explores Vaghen, this fictional Germanic country smack dab somewhere in the heart of Eurasia, following the footsteps of Dana whose life turns upside down as the Brown Shadow’s fascist ideologies spread throughout the continent. Though these two don’t share any dynamics, there’s something cathartic about chasing the ghost of another—especially when you have nothing to lose. The lack of any urgency in the overall narrative works here and is refreshing. Characters never babble on for too long and the game leaves it up to the player to gather extra information if they so please, which I always appreciate. Some scenes do get a bit on the nose with portraying the game’s themes, but I never felt that it harmed the story.
From visuals and cinematics to the artstyle, this game is a markable improvement from prior Syberia games. The game doesn’t shy away from flaunting it, too, with many in-between cutscenes that ask the player to press a button to advance. I did notice some occasional funniness with the lighting and low-resolution textures do butt in at unpleasant times. But I think an issue more worth mentioning is the grammar and spelling errors in the subtitles. You won’t have issues reading said subtitles, but the errors pop up enough that I do hope Microids goes back and cleans up the text. On the flip side, the game offers a recap on the series leading up to this title that gives just enough details without completely spoiling the adventures of the games—attention to detail like this is always a plus in my book.
Syberia: The World Before is a remarkable adventure game that keeps its legacy adventure charm and is a worthy continuation of Ms. Walker’s story. It is a game that all of Microids and B. Sokal can, and should be, proud of.
|Reviewed On||Xbox Series X|
|Available On||Xbox Series, PlayStation 5, PC/Steam — Nintendo Switch/PS4/Xbox TBD 2023|
|Release Date||15th of November, 2022|
|Developer||Microids Studio Paris|
|ESRB / PEGI Rating||T for Teen – Mild Blood, Mild Language, Violence, Use of Alcohol And Tobacco / PEGI 16 – Strong Violence, Bad Language|
Syberia: The World Before
- Kate Walker's story continues and is a joy to experience.
- Plenty of puzzles to clear and the game will offer hints if the player so desires.
- The roots of Syberia's world help ground the player to the world while its fictional elements require little disbelief suspension to understand. It's simply charming.
- Cumbersome movement can be frustrating at times.