Hop on a tram and explore the beautiful country of Osterthal via 2 different eras in the unforgettable Syberia - The World Before.
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A newfound freedom
In Syberia - The World Before, you mostly play as 2 main characters: our well-known protagonist of the series Kate Walker and a mysterious woman named Dana Roze. In the early 2000s when Kate frees herself from a mining enslavement camp, she comes across a drawing of a woman who bears a striking resemblance to herself. Wondering what to do next with her newfound freedom, she decides to track the woman down which takes her all around the fictional European country of Osterthal. v1d30chumz 35-172-230-154
An ornate mechanical city
Most of Kate's time is spent in the town of Vaghen which has to be one of the most interesting towns I've visited in any video game as it's full of automatons and various machines against a backdrop of an ornate European city. It's clear that the developers poured love into many areas while creating something truly special complete with an intricate tram system and of course, the musical square with its huge machines that leap out of the surrounding buildings and play music to the tune of a giant piano in the center.
It's quite a sight to behold and as you unravel the history of the town and its inhabitants, the story adds even more depth to the experience. The character models are mostly decent if not a little rough around the edges at times but the voice acting is great. In all, the presentation of Syberia - The World Before is quite memorable and appealing.
A gripping story
What would a Syberia game be without an interesting story that keeps you entertained from start to finish? The World Before surely delivers in this regard with a story that takes you through the lives of multiple characters as you learn about the mysterious woman in the drawing and the people she has touched. When playing in the '30s and '40s, the backdrop of the Second World War puts characters into extreme situations thus forcing them to act fast and think critically while making them question their loyalties.
Even the brief moments when you enjoy the peaceful times of their lives feel tense because you know it won't last long. When playing as Kate Walker in the early 2000s, life is a little simpler but the story remains interesting no matter which decade you're currently in.
A convenient time machine
A mechanism that I really enjoyed in Syberia - The World Before was the ability to swap between Kate in the early 2000s and Dana in the '30s in order to solve puzzles and find out information to help the other person. I wish this was used more in the game because the parts where you can swap are thoroughly enjoyable such as when you're trying to repair an automaton as Kate then swap to Dana to find out the combination to open an old metal box so you can get to the gears.
The puzzles that don't involve switching between characters are mostly entertaining, too, as they usually require you to find the right pieces of a broken machine or pull levers and press knobs in the right order to complete a task. Some of the automatons that you work on are so complex yet attractive to look at that I found myself occasionally marvelling at them.
A couple of gripes
Despite getting a lot of enjoyment out of my adventures with Kate and Dana, there were a couple of things that bugged me. For one, Syberia still hasn't figured out how to make it easy to walk around a room without bumping into things while having difficulty interacting with some points. I had the same issue with the previous instalment and most third-person games don't seem to have such a problem so it's odd to me how it's still not resolved. Another issue is that Syberia - The World Before is extremely slow-paced and hence, might not be for everyone. Given how annoying it can sometimes be to just walk around and interact with objects combined with there being many conversations to get through and the odd tedious task to complete; you must have a lot of patience to make it to the end. Thankfully, I was in the right frame of mind as I played and overall, it was well worth the effort.
Syberia - The World Before brings the series to current gen consoles with wonderful inclusions such as an ornate city that's a joy to explore. Plus, playing as a mysterious woman in a war-torn country from decades ago then swapping to Kate Walker in more recent times makes for an interesting story. So, if you're an adventure game fan and have some patience, there's a lot to admire and enjoy here.
- + System of swapping between characters keeps gameplay interesting
- + Attractive scenery and presentation
- + Captivating story across many decades
- - Slower pace won't be for everyone
- - Frequent annoyances while walking