Review by Gruel
Kate Walker, noooooooo!
I loved the first two Syberia games that hit around 2003/04 on PC/Xbox. They were traditional point-and-click adventure games, and their Xbox conversions were surprisingly solid. The story and atmosphere from them drove me to get protagonist Kate Walker through the challenging puzzles that were not usually my forte', and while a decent amount of the puzzles had me referencing a guide, it was worth it to experience the narrative.
Syberia 3 had a long on-and-off development cycle for several years, so I was pretty stoked when the latest game in one of my favorite series hit last month 13 years after the last game came out. I have no idea what happened in the development cycle, but this should not have been approved for certification because it is a buggy mess. Tons of graphical clipping, an awful camera and a horrible console control setup and much more combined to make this near-unplayable in certain spots. I was scared my Xbox One was going to explode as one major cutscene chugged along midway through the game after finishing a major encounter, and eventually all the sound effects and music stopped playing through this 3-4 minute cutscene and only the voice acting was present for it in a very head-scratching moment I will never forget.
I stuck with it though just to take in the story, which unfortunately is nowhere near as good as the previous games. The main voice actress returns and she did another standup performance, and the same can only be said of only two other characters that I will not spoil for you. The rest of the cast reminded me of voice acting from Shenmue I/II where it seemed the developers grabbed anyone from the office building to voice characters regardless if they had experience or not. They have a frail elderly grandpa who sounds like he is voiced by a monotone middle aged man that made every encounter with him mind-boggling. There is also a super cliche' brute-ish Russian woman named, you guessed it, Olga but sounds nothing like one would expect and sounds more like a stereotypical snooty librarian of all things.
A couple days ago a patch hit the Xbox One version which made me relieved my last few hours of the game would be a little more pleasant, but upon loading Syberia 3 after the update my game would immediately hard freeze. So I had to uninstall the update and play the game offline for a couple days until a second update released that fixed the freezing bugs from the first update. I could now resume my save, but there were still bugs because upon loading one of my faithful companions appeared next to me without their head attached.
If there were some positives to take out of this, I still somewhat enjoyed the story to a mild degree, and appreciated references to past characters and moments from previous games. There is a legit stunning score to be consumed as it comes from the same composer who made quality scores in Fallout 3 and Skyrim. The ending is a little bit of a bummer, but there is at least a Darth Vader-esque 'nooooo' moment to come out of it. Despite all the graphical bugs, I still got nostalgic that the developer did their best to keep the spirit of adventure game aesthetics in check with the preset-static backgrounds to navigate through, even if the sudden camera shifts to the next screen resulted in an immediate 180 degree flip of analog controls.
Unless you really loved the first two games and want to see what is next for Kate Walker you will be safe skipping Syberia 3. That only goes if you have an incredibly high tolerance for bug-filled games.
Product Release: Syberia 3 (US, 04/25/17)
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