After a 5 year absence, the ‘Syberia’ gaming series returns to continue the story of protagonist Kate Walker, as she continues to hide the secrets of Syberia whilst avoiding her pursuers. Along the way, we are also introduced to a new side character, Dana Roze.
Taking a swerve from the traditional storylines that previous installments have done, ‘Syberia: The World Before’ is a prequel AND a sequel, as the game constantly switches between veteran hero, Kate Walker, living in the early 2000s, and newly introduced character, Dana Roze, who is living in ‘The World Before’ set in the 1930s, with her land occupied by ‘The Brown Shadow’ (aka German Nazis).
The game’s narrative is relatively easy to follow, switching its pacing between the past and present. Walker is currently looking into the history of Syberia, learning of the life of Dana Roze. As Walker begins to learn of Roze and the past, the game will switch to the past, allowing you to play out Roze’s tales, of which Walker had just learned of. I find these moments incredibly intriguing and immersive, as most other adventures games have you racing against the clock to disarm a bomb or a devious villain hot on your tail. With no real antagonist in sight, the game allows you to enjoy both the story and the scenery – both of which are astonishing.
The gameplay continues on the trend of the previous titles, with you pointing and clicking your way around the world. There are many objects and clues to interact with along the way, adding both depth and drama to the unfolding story. Many NPCs you interact with have a multiple choice option of how you wish to respond to their dialogue, alternating both the objectives and your relationship with them in the game. Be cautious, as many negative choices could eliminate both further clues or background information which, in this game, is incredibly vital.
After getting used to the controls and finding out where Kate has ended up after the events of Syberia 3, Kate eventually ends up in Osthertal (which shows heavy similarities to then occupied Austria) as she begins to search for clues on the mystery of Dana Roze.
As stated, the game has you switch between past and present. Many adventure games don’t successfully switch between past and present well. Some of them overload the past with a mountain of puzzles, unskippable dialogue and downright dragging gameplay, but not Syberia: The World Before! This game’s puzzles are incredibly engaging and if you do get stuck, the game offers a handy hint button in the top right hand corner of the screen. Upon clicking, the character’s internal thoughts will vocalize, suggesting what actions / movements should be made next to advance the plot.
Unlike the previous entry to the series, Syberia: The World Before is fully playable as a point-and-click adventure. Though there are options to plug and play with a controller, the game is definitely built for a keyboard and mouse setup. You can click on any area of the map and Kate will walk to it. Double clicking has Kate running towards the spot. Interactive spots / objects are always clearly marked, which again can be interacted with via a left click.
There’s also a click and hold method, which will have Kate move to wherever you desire, so long as you hold the left click button down. This has its pros and cons though, as sometimes the character will go rogue and just start girating or moving back and forth in an area which really takes the immersion out of the experience. Some interactable objects require you to investigate them further, which opens a new window showcasing said item. This allo you to click and hold down the left button, whilst moving the mouse, which will spin the object around revealing a hidden clue / detail.
GRAPHICS + AUDIO
The word exceptional is thrown around a lot in modern reviews, but without failure this game truly does present an exceptional level of detail to gameplay, graphics and sound. All past and future worlds have clearly been made with a labor of love, showcasing incredible designs, structure, lighting and wonder. The 30’s time period really is showcased incredibly, from the fashion to the building architecture. Even the inclusion of steampunk-inspired robots make their return to the series, all of which have been designed and crafted to perfectly compliment the era.
The sound effects, soundtrack and voiceover work is truly wonderful and incredibly compelling. All characters feel real, the traversing of worlds sounds authentic and even the sound effects of the world around you is incredibly realistic to the point of making the actual real world you live in now feel dull!
An exceptional entry into the series, Syberia: The World Before will leave you breathless, wanting to play it over again and questioning all choices leading to the end of the game (which may or may not be the final chapter…?). A stunning game on its own accord and a wonderful tribute to the late creator of the series, Benoît Sokal, who sadly passed away in 2021.
- Incredible narrative
- Stunning visuals
- Immersive gameplay and sound
- Point and click controls sometimes feel wonky