Syberia is visionary author and artistic director Benoït Sokal's wildly ambitious follow-up to Amerzone.
December 10, 2009
Release Date: November 2009
Finally a publisher willing to give adventure games their due respect has arrived. Iceberg Interactive – headquartered in The Netherlands – has picked up the adventure banner in a big way with their new Adventure Classics collections. Iceberg Interactive was formed in 2009 and management is comprised in part by numerous veterans from the now defunct publisher, Lighthouse Interactive who were responsible for the wonderful Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder, Overclocked and Belief & Betrayalamong others. As Iceberg Interactive does not have a North American office, these new compilations are currently only available in parts of Europe or online from either Iceberg Interactive or the JA Online Store.
Adventure Classics: Syberia Collection is a compilation of not only the most beautiful games of the past decade, but also three of the very best adventure games you will ever have the pleasure of playing. Created by Benoît Sokal, one of Europe’s leading graphic novelists, Amerzone and the Syberia series transcend traditional gaming as they leave lasting impressions much as a favored picture in an art gallery. The three titles can be installed from one DVD(!) that come in a luxury slipcase.
Amerzone was originally reviewed by JA in the year 1999 by Tom Houston:
The wonderful graphics provide breathtaking visual images of the game's environments as you explore the lighthouse, travel the Amerzone rivers, jungles, and villages, and eventually reach the volcano "nest" of the great white birds. The colors are vibrant when they need to be, i.e., plants, flowers, birds. In fact, they're almost photographic.
But for me, the real plaudits should be extended for the spectacular animations that are used throughout the presentation of the game, often to raise the impact that a particular visualization will have on the culmination of an important part of the storytelling. At other times, animation is used to bring to life a number of strange creatures (animals) that inhabit the Amerzone. For instance, my favorite was an animation that follows a task in the story where the Journalist is required to free a whale that has been trapped in a fishing net. What follows is not just spectacular but pure beauty.
Syberia was reviewed in 2002 by Ray Ivey who had this to say:
The opening cinematic of Syberia is one of the most haunting I've ever seen in an adventure game, and it immediately sparks your interest in the game world.
Syberia is visionary author and artistic director Benoït Sokal's wildly ambitious follow-up to Amerzone. However, the biggest mistake a player could make going into this game is to expect an experience similar to the one enjoyed in Amerzone. Whereas the earlier game was an intriguing, whimsical romp with a bunch of outlandish and beautiful creatures (I'll never forget my ride on the water giraffes!), Syberia is an intense, dark character study. To make a musical analogy, if Amerzone is Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite, Syberia is Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
In fact, the entire story of the game is drenched in a sense of sorrow and regret. The melancholy feeling of the game is expressed in everything from the lighting of the scenes down to the very geography of the locations. For example, there's a sequence late in the game that is set in a faded resort on what used to be the shore of the Aral Sea. The buildings now sit, crumbling and dusty, as the doomed lake recedes farther and farther into nothingness. Syberia is actually the saddest adventure game I can remember playing since the brilliant Azrael's Tear. This is not a complaint.
Syberia 2 was also reviewed in 2004 by Ray Ivey:
Syberia 2 is the most beautiful game I have ever played.
At a time when I would have wagered that real-time rendered graphics had finally won the graphics war, Syberia 2 is a magnificent triumph of old-school, pre-rendered graphics. Working from the ravishing artistic sensibility of writer/director/artist Benoît Sokal, from beginning to end, the game is simply a work of art.
The game is full of beautiful cutscenes, all of which are available to replay after the first time you come across them. Particularly visually delightful are the scenes of Kate’s boss back in New York trying to figure out how to get her back. These scenes are produced with a bunch of gruff talking men in silhouette in front of a beautiful round deco window. It’s very reminiscent of the look from the early scenes of Citizen Kane. In fact, the game has such cinematic flair that you wish Microïds and Sokal would team up and actually make a feature film.
If you have never played the Syberia games, then do yourself a favor add the Adventure Classics: Syberia Collection to your must play list as soon as possible.