Kate Walker has been sent to a small village in Europe to get papers transferring an automaton company over to a major toy company. The game opens with her arrival in the village just in time to witness a funeral procession, where most of the procession is automatons. In a short time you discover that the funeral was that of the woman meant to sign the papers (oops) and that there was a surprise heir to the automaton company (double oops). Kate must find the heir to get the papers signed, but no one has his address. Thus begins her journey.
From the moment that this game begins, you'll know that you have found something special. The locations in the game have been lovingly designed with character and feel. The characters that you meet on the journey have personalities and quirks. Plus you get to work with some very interesting automatons. They vary from little objects used to stamp papers to the very complex Oscar.
The main game menu allows you to start a new game, load a saved game, view any of the cutscene animations you have previously viewed, view the credits, change the options, or quit the game. While in the game, right clicking or using the esc key will bring up the game tool box. From the tool box, you can select an object to use on this scene, or examine closely any of the pieces of paper that you have picked up.
As ever in a game of this type, the main hints are to look at everything carefully and to make sure that you pay attention to what others tell you. The game lets you know if a new topic of conversation comes up, but sometimes you'll need to return to old topics of conversation to progress.
General speaking, this game is more about the characters and the story and not about puzzles. There are several puzzles that could have been much more difficult, like a set of gears being placed correctly. The game only allows you to place the gear in the correct spot, so as long as you have found all of them, you'll have no trouble placing them. This is not to say that there aren't some tricky things, but I believe that the puzzles are more than fair.
At one point, the music in the opening town turns quite ominous. I kept expecting a villian to pop out or something. It was simply an over-dramatic turn in the music.
The game did not like my graphics card and wanted to play at a lower resolution than I should have been using. After a few minutes of fiddling and restarting the game, I decided to just leave it. Syberia looks good, even at the 16 bit resolution.
Whether looking for an old fashioned adventure experience or looking for a game to introduce someone to the genre, you should pay serious attention to Syberia. The puzzles within all make sense within the context of the game, no hunt the pixel problems, no critical timing problems. There is at least one scary moment, which may put fairly young players off, but the action is suitable for teens and above.
This game won't take you long to complete, so unless this is your first adventure game ever, try to avoid walk throughs. You do want to make this last a bit.
This game reminds me a little of Longest Journey. It has been a long time since I played and completed that game, but the feel is similar.