Review by · February 24, 2024

Playing through Syberia is like taking a trip through a museum. The game evokes the feeling of roaming hallways filled with preserved remnants of a bygone era. Unfortunately, this dated feeling occasionally extends beyond deliberate presentation, creeping into the gameplay and the portrayal of some content. Despite a few missteps, Syberia still delivers a unique experience that point-and-click adventure fans should consider checking out.

Our protagonist, Kate Walker, finds herself in the small French village of Valadilène, seeking to finalize an American toy conglomerate’s acquisition of a local automaton factory. What promised to be a simple job quickly spirals into a globe-trotting journey when Kate learns factory owner Anna Voralberg has passed away, leaving the factory in the hands of her absentee brother Hans. The rest of Syberia follows Kate on her quest to track down Hans as she explores eccentric locales such as the Voralberg factory, a university-turned-winery, and an abandoned Soviet-era mining town.

Before breaking down the minutiae of Syberia, I have to address the game’s questionable content. Syberia has issues in representing intellectually disabled people. This manifests itself in two ways, the first being occasional written and verbal use of outdated language. While the game released when such language was more commonplace, I feel it is worth mentioning, considering this is a rerelease of the game on a modern platform. The game’s ESRB page makes no mention of it. The other cause for concern is the depiction of Momo’s character. Momo is a young boy with a nonspecific intellectual disability who refers to himself in the third person while speaking in short, grammatically incorrect sentences. Though Momo is portrayed as a sympathetic character, his depiction is more like a caricature than an honest representation of someone with an intellectual disability. I was disappointed by this depiction. It left me hesitant about the rest of the game, but no such issues arose throughout the rest of my playthrough.

Kate Walker is equipped with her umbrella as she arrives at Valadilène in the rain in Syberia.
Welcome to Valadilène. We hope you enjoy your stay.

Syberia’s introduction effectively acclimates players to all of the core concepts throughout the adventure. Players learn how to use items to solve puzzles, examine documents, and use their cellphone within a few minutes of taking control of Kate. Disappointingly, these mechanics don’t coalesce in a satisfying way. While I expected to parse through documents and manually input phone numbers, my hopes were dashed. It turns out inspecting a document is enough to add the relevant number to your contact list. The cell phone was especially disappointing and only proved useful a handful of times. The puzzles rarely evolve beyond this serviceable lock-and-key system. While the player earns occasional rewards for their attentiveness, most puzzles boil down to finding the right item or choosing the right dialog option. Despite the gameplay’s simplicity, Syberia doesn’t outstay its welcome. Syberia can be completed in a tight six hours before monotony sets in. 

Satisfaction in exploring fluctuates greatly within the four locations. Valadilène starts off strong thanks to its centralized design with many branching paths. This helps keep backtracking to a minimum because key locations don’t have a sequential layout. The second location, Barrockstadt, makes a major misstep, falling right into this issue. Barrockstadt is largely linear, so even with the run button (which should remain held at all times), players backtrack long distances as they solve puzzles. Thankfully, Barrockstadt is the only offender in this regard, and the following two locations move at a brisk pace like a well-oiled automaton. A unique orchestral piece supports each of Syberia’s areas courtesy of composer Inon Zur. Zur provides a soundtrack that starts out atmospheric but crescendos into grandeur during key moments. The music does a brilliant job of enhancing exploration, but some screen transitions abruptly cut off or restart the music, breaking immersion.

Kate Walker approaches Barrockstadt in Syberia.
Visually striking backgrounds are around every corner.

Syberia focuses less on exciting narrative developments, instead choosing to examine how Kate changes over the course of her travels. The phone calls Kate receives from her boss, mother, friend, and fiancé throughout her adventure establish subplots to develop Kate. These calls give the player a glimpse into the expectations levied against Kate in both her personal and professional lives back in New York. The calls also draw parallels between Kate and Hans Voralberg, helping the player empathize with a character who is absent from the game. My favorite source of characterization for Kate comes from Oscar, a train conductor automaton Kate meets along her journey. Oscar’s strict adherence to rules in even the most urgent situations is an excellent foil to Kate’s nonchalant attitude towards the events unfolding around her. The playful banter between Kate and Oscar provides much-needed humor and levity between Kate’s lonesome expeditions.

Syberia’s most memorable and unique aspect is visual presentation. The fixed camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds expertly depict its gorgeous yet dilapidated environments. Each of the four areas has its own atmosphere, ensuring the visuals never get repetitive. I found some of the scenes in Valadilène to be particularly striking, with effects such as rippling water and birds flying through the sky adding the perfect amount of movement to otherwise still images. Sadly, the backgrounds remain at their original resolution, which creates a jarring effect with the clearly enhanced character models occupying them. The occasional FMV cutscenes also fall victim to low resolution, but it’s not egregious enough to detract from the overall experience.

In some ways, Syberia shows signs of aging, much like the locales it depicts. The puzzles are overly simplistic, the visuals can be muddy, and the game handles certain topics poorly. But at its core, Syberia offers a timeless experience. Point-and-click adventure fans looking for a unique experience should consider making the trip to Valadilène.


Beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds, unique atmosphere, Oscar.


Basic puzzles, outdated content.

Bottom Line

Syberia is still worth checking out despite its shortcomings.

Overall Score 79
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David Kirakosyan

David Kirakosyan

David has been playing games as far back as he can remember, and his favorite games continue to occupy his mind long after the credits roll. At RPGFan, David hopes to refine his writing skills so he can contribute to the site's growing body of work created by equally passionate individuals.