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Syberia: The World Before Review

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Twenty years after the debut of Syberia, in 2002, closely followed by Syberia 2, in 2004, a fourth episode saw the light of day on PC on March 18, 2022waiting to be worn on consoles a little later. In 2017, a third, more controversial opus was indeed developed by Kylotonn. But it is indeed Microids which is back in charge today, in collaboration with Koalabs Games, for Syberia: The World Before, hoping to restore the license to its former glory. And it looks pretty good since the title has been elected best pc game at gamescom 2021, in front of a certain Elden Ring having yet won all the other prizes in the categories where he was nominated. On the other hand, we deplore the disappearance in May 2021 of Benoît Sokal (The Amerzone, Investigations of Inspector Canardo, Aquarica, Kraa…), the designer to whom we owe the series. For our greatest pleasure, Kate Walker is therefore back in service with a certain return to basics emphasizing the puzzles and the poetic narrative adventure in point & click that characterizes the franchise.

Like a swan of fate

Syberia: The World Before review

Curiously, it is not with Katherine Walker that this new episode begins, but with Dana Roze, an apprentice pianist getting ready to play “Le Chant des Cygnes”, the anthem of Vaghen, during the famous mechanical concert where the pianist is accompanied by automatons created by Hans Voralberg during the reconstruction of the city following its terrible fire. It’s happening in 1937in this capital of the imaginary country of Osterthal, located between Switzerland, Austria and Germany, while Brown Shadowthe National Socialist Party, is gaining in power and increasingly persecutes the vageran community to which Dana Roze belongs.

Kate Walker decides to start looking for this stranger.

Syberia: The World Before review

In parallel, in 2004we also follow the continuation of the adventures of kate walkerthe former New York lawyer imprisoned in a salt mine where she has been toiling 12 hours a day for a year after being captured at the end of the previous episode. Very close to her cell partner Katyusha, a former dissident member of a Russian punk group, she one day discovers a way out allowing her to escape, while falling on the portrait of a young girl dating from the 1930s strongly resembling her. Once outside, she then decides to embark on a new quest in search of this stranger and the link that could unite them.

It is above all the dramatic story of Dana Roze that we are interested in here.

Syberia: The World Before review

Although following three episodes, Syberia: The World Before, addresses both fans of the series and newcomers. Indeed, even if references are obviously made to previous events, it is above all the dramatic story of Dana Roze that we are interested in here. We certainly find the presence of Hans Voralberg’s automatons, but in a much more anecdotal way, including Oscar, the train manager who had sacrificed himself for Kate and who returns in a new body, but the Youkols are not part of this time, and the fantastic bestiary is much less obvious. And to remember the main lines, so as not to lose anyone, a quick reminder of the adventures of Miss Walker is offeredvia the video that was shown on Youtube before the game was released.

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In the Dana Valley

Syberia: The World Before review

The story told to us, while replacing the Nazis with the Dark Shadow and the Jews with the Vagerans, closely in the dark times that marked Europe at the end of the 1930s. In fact, we are dealing with a gripping and moving story, but much darker than previously. Only Oscar, with his so British phlegm, brings a little touch of humor and lightness outweighing the seriousness of the situation. Through this investigation spanning the ages, Benoît Sokal once again offers us a truly captivating enchanting universe. The script is well done with parallels where the two eras sometimes even manage to intersect to the greatest effect.

A truly captivating enchanting universe.

Syberia: The World Before review

The title also benefits froma brand new graphics engine to further magnify the animated and living decorations of the game, enhanced by well-chosen plans. The artistic direction is high-flying and dazzles us many times. Of long contemplative sequences are also offered to us, often in music to take advantage even more of thesymphonic orchestration by Inon Zur (Dragon Age, Fallout, Prince of Persia, Starfield…). The soundscape is delectable and we find the classic themes of the series. Note that the title is fully available in French with quality dubbing, even if some secondary characters unfortunately benefit from a slightly less careful treatment. A few words are also missing in the texts and the background sounds of the conversations remain in English, but that is not a problem.

The artistic direction is high-flying.

Syberia: The World Before review

Like the environments, faces also benefit from the new engine, but there too the treatment is unequal between the different protagonists. Moreover, the lip synchronization is not always perfect and some rigidities remain in the animation faces like characters. The small running step, for example, is still just as unconvincing. But that’s the whole sometimes arduous journeys which is especially to be criticized. This results in characters who can go too far or take several turns on themselves before heading or positioning themselves correctly. Likewise, selecting a moving interactive element is tricky, especially since the points indicating these can cross the sets and therefore be in a different place than the one we thought. We would have really appreciated being able to turn the camera. Technically, there is still some progress to be made. We can also note a few rare clipping effects, but no blockage in the decor this time is to be deplored.

Do you point or click?

Syberia: The World Before review

If the title sometimes resembles a interactive moviewhere we have more to play the role of spectator than actor, he seeks to involve us by more immersive symbolic movements, like pulling, pushing, knocking, turning mechanisms… It works quite well and is in any case much more effective than simply clicking on an instruction to open a drawer, for example. It is, however, a game old fashioned point & click for everything else. There are dialogue choices to be made, and often to be scrolled one after the other with a few blanks in the sequences, but also and above all puzzles to solve. It is generally a question of finding how to activate a mechanism or overcome a lock, which can pass by the preliminary discovery of an object in the environment. Even though the trip is clearly markedyou have to know how to think outside the box, especially to achieve secondary objectives but also to expand the lore.

The challenge is not really met.

Syberia: The World Before review

If you ever encounter difficulties, a gauge gradually fills up and allows you toget clues once full. However, this remains clearly dispensable, the challenge is not really taken up, which some will no doubt regret. That said, the puzzles offered are simple, but they are nonetheless effective. And the concept of jumping from one character to another and thus crossing the ages to find information in the past to help you in the present, works wonderfully. Note that in addition to Dana and Kate, you will also be brought to embody other characters, and that this gameplay proposal is also very appreciable. Through different looks, you will gradually learn more about what happened to Dana and Kate’s past.

Olivia Foster, Kate’s friend, still hopes to see her return to New York.

Syberia: The World Before review

Everyone has a notebook where you find the main and secondary objectives (some of which are, by the way, questionable, such as adjusting the stove or doing the service in the restaurant), as well as the documents and objects collected, and a diary. Dana fills hers with her thoughts, but Kate’s is completed with the correspondence sent by the private detective Nic Cantin, still in her footsteps since Syberia 3, to Olivia Foster, Kate’s friend who still hopes to see her return to New York. The title offers lots of reading and will take care of you 12 to 3 p.m. if you want to see everything and not miss anything. It repeats itself perhaps a little at the end, constantly recalling the ins and outs, but the trip is definitely worth it and ends with what could be a conclusion to the saga but also a new cliffhanger paving the way for a sequel. However, is this possible now that his parent has left us? On our side, we would in any case not be against the idea of ​​setting off again on an adventure alongside Miss Walker and Oscar.

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