Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone



The triumphant return of the classic Adventure gaming genre is most evident with the release of
Dreamcatcher Games latest title, Syberia for PC gaming platform. This gem of last year’s E3 video gaming conference has the makings of a true classic gaming experience, with its sweeping visual and graphic designs, an extremely well written and intriguing storyline, and an incredibly intricate yet interesting puzzle scheme that can be found throughout the game. Check out our full review Syberia here at The Laser for what might be one of the best games we’ve had a chance to play all year.

From the extremely creative mind of Benoit Sokal and the wizardry of the gaming designers at Microids comes one of the best games we’ve seen for the PC platform this year:  that being the eagerly awaited release from Dreamcatcher Games, entitled Syberia. A classic styled adventure game at its core, Syberia takes advantage of modern day gaming technology and blends it seamlessly with those best attributes that have made playing the adventure gaming genre the incredible experience that it is.  With Syberia, PC gamers not only have the opportunity to engage in a title with rich and stunning visual dynamics, state of the art 3D effects, and mind bending puzzles, but also one that contains an extremely well written storyline and a compelling plot.

From the initial start up of Syberia on our gaming rig, the staff here at The Laser knew we were in for an incredible gaming experience. Though the visuals and singular gameplay were raved about during the last E3 conference in Los Angeles , seeing them firsthand proved to be an exhilarating experience, to say the least. A definite step back from the adrenaline fueled action oriented titles that has become a mainstay of popularity over the last few years, Syberia gives players the opportunity to put on and use their thinking caps as they explore the many ‘old-world’ European locales that make up the vast majority of the in-game scenarios.  Players take on the persona of Kate Walker, an American lawyer sent to the tiny French Alps village of Valadilene in order to finalize the sale of the towns’ infamous Voralberg Automaton factory, which has been used to make toys and other fanciful gadgets over the years. Upon arrival, not only does Kate learn that the factories’ owner, Anna Voralberg, has died, but her thought to be long dead brother Hans Voralberg is actually alive and well. The factory now legally belongs to him, which forces Walker to embark upon an incredible journey across Western and Eastern Europe to find the Automaton Factory heir and convince him to complete the sale that Anna Voralberg had started.

As with most games within the ‘classic’ style of the adventure genre, Syberia consists of a 3rd person, mouse based ‘point-and-click’ form of gameplay, giving it a slow and methodical pace allowing gamers to take in each and every nuance of the title; and believe us when we tell you that this game has plenty of them. Sokal’s rich imagery and beautiful artistic visuals sweep across every inch of the computer’s screen at almost every moment, from normal moments of gameplay, to the incredible cut-scenes that helps the storyline progress.  The opening animated cut-scene is a testament to the uncanny quality that has gone into producing Syberia:  the eerie automaton funeral procession set against the picturesque background of the small French Alps city of Valadilene is incredibly breathtaking, to say the least.  The only other aspect of the game that could give the graphical presentation a run for its money lies in the highly orchestrated soundtrack that happens to be layered deeply throughout the entire experience of Syberia. Not unlike a well made film, however, the sounds and visuals of the game go hand in hand, making the experience that much more enjoyable.

After stripping away the aesthetics that made up the majority of the Syberia experience, we still found the title exhibited the best attributes found within an adventure game.  Again, the ‘point-and-click’ style of gameplay made jumping into the fray very simple, even for those unfamiliar with this particular genre of gaming.  The various forms of puzzles that are the driving force behind Syberia and other games within the adventure genre tended to sway back and forth in levels of difficulty. At times, figuring out what one needed in order to progress in the storyline and complete a ‘puzzle’ or ‘quest’ that happened to lie in a players’ path seemed almost too easy. Other times, we actually had to rely on the cheat sheet that Dreamcatcher had so thoughtfully included in order to complete a puzzle that had frustrated us so completely (for those that don’t have the industry contacts, quite a few walkthroughs and guides for the game can easily be found through all of the major search portals and engines).  As with most games similar to Syberia, careful observation of one’s surroundings and paying attention to conversations held with other in game character’s normally put you on the right course to finishing a daunting task. A well crafted storyline also helped keep the pace of the game’s action, as did the various settings and interesting back story characters and plotlines. At every turn, there was always something quite interesting and unexpected to be found within Syberia.

Though the positive aspects of Syberia are plentiful, the game itself is not completely perfect: but then again, not too many really are in the end.  A couple of minor flaws in the gameplay did cause some consternation, but nothing that couldn’t be overlooked after truly involving ourselves within the game. For starters, we found ourselves having to take notes during conversations just so we didn’t miss any sort of important clue or plot line. It might have been a good idea for Microids to add some a ‘conversation logging’ sheet on the character interface console in order to keep track of important information. What is truly odd about this situation is that it looks as if one exists already, but it always remains blank.  Believe it or not, another major drawback to the game came in the form of too much detail in certain locations. We found ourselves missing important items needed for puzzle solving on more than one occasion simply for the fact that they blended in almost too well with Sokal’s incredible artwork.  This wouldn’t be such a problem if this was a consistent practice. Sometimes, items would stick out like a sore thumb, ready for players to pick them up and add to your inventory for future puzzles and quests.  Other times, you’d have to search the area with your cursor inch by inch until the ‘found’ icon appeared, and that’s only after checking out the walkthrough files for help. Again, an annoying situation at best especially after you wracked your brain over and over again, trying to figure out what you’ve done wrong during a puzzle, only to find out later that the needed item was right in front of you the whole time.

Other than the few problems we found with certain minor aspects of the game, Syberia proved itself to be one of the true gaming gems of the year.  Its incredible visual presentation, intriguing storyline, and above average puzzle schemes have really helped put the Adventure genre back on the PC gaming map.  Toting a more methodical pace of gaming, Syberia not only gives players the chance to experience firsthand an incredible story, but also to exercise their cerebral muscles a bit, problem solving.  Add to that a MSP of $29.99 (priced way below its quality level, in our opinion) this latest release from Dreamcatcher Games is a definite bargain that even the cheapest fan of Adventure gaming cannot ignore.

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