Syberia Review – Revisiting a Hidden Gem (PS3)
Did you grow up playing adventure games like Myst? Or, do you remember an age where characters would move screen-to-screen as 3D objects over static, painted backgrounds (think Final Fantasy VII for that bit)? Are you okay with playing a game like that in 2014? Better yet, are you cool with paying $14.99 to get a game like this on a previous generation console?
I ask all of those direct questions not to turn you away from Syberia. This is a gem of a game; I played the original on the PC in 2004 or 2005, a few years after its initial release. It’s been out on the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo DS since then. It’s also released most recently on the PlayStation 3 (obviously), the Xbox 360 and iOS/Android platforms.
So, put plainly, Syberia is being released again and again for a reason: it’s a solid, classic puzzle game. It features a decent story, though it doesn’t stand up as well amidst today’s gaming narratives as it once did, classic adventure game design, around 10 hours of play and a compelling world.
A Port of Adventure
The game follows Kate Walker as she arrives in a strange, small, French village. She’s a lawyer meant to buy a toy factory from a woman named Anna, it’s just too bad that she’s arrived in time for Anna’s funeral. You’ll work as Kate in order to find out who can actually sell you the factory, though that path leads you on a string of adventures around several European locations. Each area comes with its own set of puzzles, problems and characters.
How does the PlayStation 3 port of this title stand up? That depends on where you’re coming from.
If you played Syberia back on PC (or any of it’s other platforms, quite honestly), you’re only going to want to play this game for nostalgia’s sake. This is not an HD upgrade, as amazing as that would be. It’s a straight port with new difficulty options. Though, I’m not sure if they’re completely new or just new since I played the game. You can take on Syberia in its original form without prompts or guides, you can get a step-by-step set of instructions or you can get a list of objectives.
For my money, I would have liked to see Syberia completely redone. The game’s creators obviously love the title, especially since it’s becoming a trilogy next year. Why not, now that we’re 12 years after the original, move beyond simply port work and towards remastering? With Syberia III due in 2015, now seems like a perfect time to remaster the first two games.
Instead, we have a port.
Good and Old
Yes, Syberia is good on the PlayStation 3 because it stands as an unchanged rock in a constantly moving stream. It’s the same game I played forever ago (though with problems I’ll soon discuss thanks to using a controller), and as a fan of that one I would have liked to see, well, anything new here.
I think what bothers me most about the PlayStation 3 version of Syberia stems from exactly how little has changed. It’s the same game in looks, it’s just as clunky as it was way back when, they’re selling it for $14.99 and, here’s the worst bit, you can buy the same thing on mobile devices for $6.99. That’s less than half the cost.
Because of the way the game is played with the controller (moving your character about with the left stick while interacting with objects in each space), it’s actually a bit of a chore to explore. On the PC, this was a point-and-click adventure game. I could hover my mouse all over the screen, see what was worth interacting with and do so. Here, I have to walk around, hoping one object or another will offer an examination. On mobile? It’s point-and-click once more.
Syberia on the PlayStation 3 feels extremely dated for that reason. In fact, I’d say it feels older than it did on the PC because I don’t have a keyboard and mouse. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a direct port of the PlayStation 2 version’s controls, though I can’t offer a real test to tell you whether or not I’m spot on with that.
I Smell a Cash-Grab
Therein lies the crux of my entire problem with Syberia on the PlayStation 3. Don’t get me wrong, I love old games. I was a fan of this one when I played it 10 years ago. My issue is that this feels like a cash grab. “We don’t have Syberia playable on the PlayStation 3 yet, so let’s just port it again.”
You can buy Syberia and Syberia 2 from GOG for $14.99.
Let me back up for a second. I think asking for $15 for Syberia is a bit much on the PlayStation 3. Were this a remaster, I’d be singing the game’s praises while pushing you gamers towards buying it. It is, afterall, a wonderful tale with interesting puzzles. It shows its age, but I think that’s a big part of its charm for those who love old games like me.
If you’ve never played Syberia and you’re without a PC or iOS/Android device, this PlayStation 3 port is a viable option. This game is for a very specific slice of gamer, though. You’ll need to have a love for adventure games, a tolerance for old mechanics and the mental fortitude for classic design.
If you have all that, dive in.
Review copy provided by the publisher. For more information regarding our review policy, please read our review policy here.