We return to Syberia! Or lets just say, our journey towards the title land continues. If you haven’t played Syberia 1 yet, then don’t read this, as I’ll probably be spoiling some of the previous instalment. To commemorate the recent release of Syberia 3 after 13 years of waiting, here is Syberia 2.
We begin our journey right where we left off in Syberia 1 – After deciding she wanted to help Hans Vorelberg find Syberia Island, rather than give Hans’ signed contract to pass the deed of the automaton factory to another toy company through her bosses in New York – Kate Walker continues her journey at the cost of going home to her family, friends and work. Meanwhile, Kate’s Law Firm has sent Private Detective Nick Cantin to search for Kate and bring her home. The Automaton Train makes a last stop in the last piece of civilisation in the area, Romansbourg. A very small town that’s divided in 2 – On top is the higher level, for those who look down on everyone, and on the ground floor is everybody else. Those who live in the higher levels include the Station Master and the monks in the monastery. On the ground floor are civilians trying to get by…even to the point of craftiness and selfishness. With Hans’ health being an issue and Oscar showing more humanity despite telling everyone he’s only designed for a particular purpose, Kate does all she can to make it to the end of the journey, and not only see if Syberia is real, but if Mammoths actually exist…Because what adventure doesn’t have hiccups?
Now to discuss details:
The art style is as good as ever, and some adjustments have been made here and there. The grainy but quirky backdrops have been replaced with a smoother, more painterly style. However there is a lot more snow in this game compared to last time, so that could be easily done. The character designs and the towns are very interesting and full of life, despite how little time some of them have on screen.
The graphics are roughly the same as before – occasionally better and occasionally worse. Much like Syberia 1 it’s very rough around the edges and clunky, with fixed backgrounds. Occasionally it snows and there are more character animations. But 1 or 2 animations are…not great. One in particular comes from Kate walking up to the Monastery – There’s a bird that flies away in our direction when Kate comes into scene. It’s a great idea. But if Kate is running, she will actually overlap the bird!…It was never destined to look like a Naughty Dog game, even in 2004. But rather it’s a platform for some great imagination, art and storytelling.
The gameplay animation, believe it or not, is a little worse. This was never a strong point in the series, but dear goodness it didn’t do well here.
The cutscene animation is an improvement, with some very nicely presented cut scenes, including the Cabaret Scene, the Escape and the screen were Kate basically flies. For 2004, they were nicely done and occasionally reminding me of Final Fantasy 8 and 9 cutscenes for the PS1 (which were designed as PS2 graphics prototype presentations).
The gameplay is around the same. Excellent puzzles, much exploration and some tight spots that could occasionally make you feel lost. My advice is to go everywhere and touch everything..and use your head.
The Voice Acting, depending on whether you’re playing this in english or not, is slightly worse, despite how cartoony they’re meant to be with some characters being particularly annoying. Kate and Oscar are fine, but the ‘villains’ are a bit weird…as are the Youkol (yes, you finally meet the Youkol mentioned in Syberia 1)
The Characters serve a greater range, and even have a more long-term villain to act as a Maguffin for Kate. I like that both Kate and Oscar are developed more, with Kate being more sarcastic and annoyed than before, as well as Oscar…I guess everyone gets to that point while on an adventure.
The story maintains the same feel as the original, but it’s also a different story altogether. Before it was about searching for Hans Voralberg and now it’s about getting Hans to Syberia. The roles of the train, Ivory Dealers, Bear, the Chasing Detective and Hans’ health also add a nice sense of urgency to the journey.
The music is by a different composer this time – instead of being by Dimitri Bodiansky and Nicolas Varley, it’s by Israeli-American Inon Zur. It maintains the same charm and character as the previous chapter, but at the same time the influences used make it clear that you’re no longer in Europe and very much in Russia from here on out. It borrows a bit from traditional Russian music, as well as Eastern Orthodoxy chants and Tribal music. There is also a part of the game where the theme reminded me of Edward Scissorhands…which was interesting.
Would I recommend Syberia 2? Yes I would. It’s roughly as good as the first 1 and is a continuation of the story for those who want to know what happened after last time. If you became a fan of the series through the first 1, then you’ll be happy to know you’re not going to be disappointed with this 1, all while maintaining its charm and good points.
Art Style: *****
Graphics: **1/2 (****1/4 in 2002)
Gameplay Animation: *1/4
Cutscene animation: ****1/4
Voice Acting: ***3/4
Overall: ***3/4 (2017) **** (2004)