the writings of a mind

Title: Syberia 2
Genre: Adventure
Big Word: Dysappointment
Strap: A cold chill blows through the heart of one sad faced gamer

Iím taking this one personally. Syberia has always been the measure by which Iíve proved that Iím not just a cynical old hack, hating every euro-adventure that comes my way. I give each the optimistic hope that it will be enjoyable, only to have this positive attitude cruelly smashed against the dangerous rocks of crappy gaming. Syberia offered a safe light to follow.

The first game ended with American lawyer, Kate Walker, finally meeting elderly heir, Hans Voralberg. The mysterious son of a factory owner, disowned by his family due to mental illness, had left a trail of clockwork inventions throughout the journey of his life. Together, they planned to explore the peculiar mythology of mammoths living on a lost frozen island called Syberia.

Starting off with their clockwork train stuck at a station in a small wintry town, Syberia 2 reveals its first change of style: people. The original was a strangely solitary affair, leaving Kate with only the company of Hansí automatons Ė a move that helped the player empathise with the crippling loneliness of Hansí autistic childhood, unable to identify with anybody but for his extraordinary inventions.

Forget that now. The first third of part two is instead about going backwards and forwards between the collection of people-clichťs scattered around the sprawling town, trying to get the train up and running. A string of chores offer no rewards. Every victory is met with punishment. Every completed task reveals another problem. For a third of the game.

But worse are the puzzles themselves. Instead of the obscure object interaction puzzles of the first, this incarnation contains horrid Myst-like metallic pattern-solving monstrosities. Just like all the rest. And in keeping with the wretched genre, there are no clues as to what you should be doing, and no tangible rewards for stumbling upon the solution. Just the usual blind clicking until something goes clunk.

The introduction of conversational NPCs has been met with absolutely no expertise, meaning you spend half the time saying, "What mechanical horses?!" to people, despite having just sat through a long and tedious conversation about the damn things in the previous location. And even then, these people arenít used to tell the story. In fact, the whole thingís lazily shoved into a discovered book. All twenty pages of it. Such narrative crimes were never expected in here.

Syberia was the haunting story of beauty borne of tragedy. It was about one womanís rejection of her material life for the love of exploration and imagination. Syberia 2 offers a half-arsed depiction of a dying manís consumption by madness, and a few hours of shoddily told story and dismal puzzles. Despite looking absolutely beautiful, this is an enormous disappointment, and yet another breached hull.

 A horrible letdown. Thereís nothing else to say.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Microids
Developer: In House
Price: £30
Minimum System: 350 MHz, 64Mb RAM, 16Mb 3D card
Recommended: 1GHz, 128Mb RAM, 32Mb 3D card
Multi-player: None
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