Syberia 2


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Benoit Sokal

Publisher:    Microids

Released:  2004

PC Requirements:     Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium III 800, 128MB RAM, 32MB 3D DirectX 8.1 compatible video card, 400MB free hard drive space, 16X CDROM, DirectX 7.0 compatible sound card, Keyboard, Mouse


Additional Screenshots



by gatorlaw

Syberia 2 Review

People like you, Miss Walker, end up never going home…  

There is a place called Syberia. It is filled with sympathetic characters, who live within a world of moody imagery, lilting music and intricate mechanisms. Most of all, it has such a quiet and touching story. When I wandered through its pathways, I was so charmed. As it faded from my screen, I was happy that this game had been made with such tenderness. Then I turned my mind to the future and the conclusion of Kate’s journeys with Hans and her Oscar. Finally, spring came even to Syberia, and the sequel was here.

Where does this train go…?

This journey began in the quiet village of Valadilene and led Kate far away from all she had known. She now finds herself in a town on the edge of a vast wilderness of ice and storm. There is a layer of gritty snow settled into the nooks and crannies of the buildings below. It seems that cast off people, places and things dwell here. Perhaps this is where dreams and people go, when they step off a train and find to their dismay, this is indeed the end of the line. This sense of futility is enhanced by the presence of a monastery, perched high atop a nearby peak. It hints of darker views on this world and the next. It is indeed the home of retribution and superstition. All of which offers scant hope to the residents of the patch worked town. However, Kate is not one to let any obstacles keep her from her appointed tasks and she eventually makes her way further along the rails. As she draws closer to the possibility of Syberia, the mood and scenery lightens. After some precarious moments, the scene is of a vast wilderness. All is alive and in motion as you walk along with Kate.  Glimpses of animals and other touches create a gentle mood. There will be further stops along the way before Kate has reason to cease her wanderings. But it is good to leave these details for future discovery. Even Syberia reveals her secrets as she chooses.

Ahhh the people you will meet and remembrance of things past…

As in Syberia 1, you will once again encounter a diverse group of characters. Among the more memorable is Malka a child unclaimed by any except an aging cabaret owner. As with Momo, I mused that perhaps Kate could add one more companion to her little group. I would have liked to see more of her in the story. There is Colonel Emiliov, who seemed bound by the prejudices of those who seek safety in the idea that they live above those trapped below, in that first town of up and down – ins and outs.  However, he does later reveal a kind heart and perhaps his melancholy stems from his life weary step. The stark and unyielding ways of an angry cleric does much to impede Kate’s progress and caused me to muse over what or whom this cleric served. You will meet others who until now had been nothing more than faded depictions in dusty books.

Of course we have our main companions; Hans, Oscar and the little half dog/half seal creature, Youki. Acquired by Kate at her first stop, he plays an integral part in a few of the challenges. More than that, he is an engaging character and I have to admit I wouldn’t mind if such a creature actually existed.

I expected to see more deeply into the inner workings of Hans in this game. After all, it was his dream and persona that drew Kate deeper into this adventure and whose quest is the pivot point for Syberia 2. However other than one small chapter that reveals some salient clues into his past, Hans was largely a wooden figure in this game. This disappointed, but I settled in and moved into all the areas that were, in contrast, more richly defined. 

Though, I have a particular fondness for Oscar with his delicate mechanisms and finicky ways, I found him to be more personable in this game. He seems even closer to Kate and they have such ease about their give and take. There is detectable warmth to their exchanges. Not merely a tin man, his decisions and changes will show how much it can mean to be human. Or perhaps, that our definition of humanity is sadly shallow. Regardless, you will feel a pull on your heart in many places in this game, with Oscar figuring in many of these moments.

There is also closure to many incidents and encounters from the first part of this story and that was a nice touch to the storyline. There is an oddly placed side story that centers on Kate’s rapidly receding former life. I think perhaps a clean break would have been acceptable and Kate could have discarded this life and its reminders easily enough. However, it is interesting at times, did present some fascinating visual and graphical contrast and doesn’t distract much from the flow of this tale. As with part one, I think character depiction was an overall strength in this game.

Fly me away on the wings of a song and all those little things

Lush musical passages were a highly attractive feature of the first game. However, they were largely limited to the phenomenal cinematics. I can’t praise these elements enough in the first part of Kate’s story – but I did wish the music had more of a presence within the general game world. I was very happy to find that this occurred in Syberia 2. There were several locations where I loved the music so much, that I would not only stand there for quite a while, but later would preserve specific saves so that I could re-visit these places at will. It was that pleasurable to just stand there and soak in the music one more time. There was one selection in particular at the monastery that drew me back time after time. There was a different composer employed for the sequel, but once again team Syberia has excelled.

Are the graphics as good as anticipated? No – they are even better. I found them to be so delectable. You could roll around in them or plaster your office with them. Benoit had made mention of the subtle tweakings achieved with the graphics engine and they were well appreciated. No matter what I write, you will have to see them to really appreciate how much can be achieved by the simplest gesture, expression or falling snowflake. And it was not just in the delicate touches that the graphics excelled. There is a place within the monastery compound where you will enter a room where the perspective is such that is quite difficult to consistently maintain proper perspective and proportions within an interactive challenge. It is executed brilliantly.  This amazing attention to scale and dimension is featured over and again. I found myself often just standing and watching all around me, to lay aside what task or mission I was to finish and revel in this world apart.

Of sealing wax, clock work tracks, of ships and many things…

In the first game, the puzzles were extremely locked into the game environment and were of a more practical nature. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to regard them as challenges rather than actual “figure this out” puzzles. I didn’t find this to be a flaw. To me, a large part of evaluating a game is not so much whether it conforms to some artificial shopping list of ingredients, but rather how well it achieves the game play and structure chosen by the developers. Syberia is a story driven game that is intended to absorb the player and not let them go til the last credit appears. Difficult puzzles may absorb you in the process, but they also tend to take you away from the story, the characters and the mood of the game.

There were many more actual puzzles layered into the game play in Syberia 2. Some are fairly simple to get through, but others are quite intricate and even may involve securing items in multiple locations.  The variety of challenges has also been enhanced. Do you like to use your inventory? That is good, as you will get your chance. Do intricate mechanical enigmas get your puzzlers heart racing?  Rest easy – they are in here too.  And last, but never least, there are the various train related puzzles. Some of these challenges may seem elusive, but always heed clues both passive and dialogue driven and you will fare well. There are many more than you would think. It would seem that the Syberia team did listen to gamers and although they term it mere “tweaking” Syberia 2 steps many things up a notch from the first game.

Bridging the gap…

Although originally this game was scripted as one long continuous story, many factors pushed the decision to divide the game into two parts. It would be easy to assume that based on this early continuity, there would be little contrast between the two games. But, that is not the case. With the enhancements, subtle changes and varied plot basis, Syberia 2 is in some ways extremely different. So is this good or bad? This caused me a lot of indecision when writing this review. I truly adored the first game. So much so, that I wrote an editorial about the game and it’s impact rather than do a standard critique.

That game was slightly fuzzy around the edges. It wasn't perfect and there were even a few glitchy places here and there. But to me, it was so fresh, unique and achieved a rare emotional pull. In comparison, Syberia 2 is a much more finely crafted game. I thought long and hard about the puzzles, the characters, the graphics and game play. It is hands down one of the more flawless games I have played in every technical sense. So why do I still like the first game just a bit better?  After musing for some time it came down to a matter of perspective. One, the first game was new, unusual. So some of the let down comes from that newness not being a factor. The other is that the two games come from entirely different places and perspectives. The first is designed to wrap us up in the conversion and liberation of Kate Walker. It is really her story and how she comes to end up on a northbound train - instead of happily encamped in her ivory tower in America. 

The second part of the story is the dream of Hans. It is not focused on Kate or even Hans. It is instead focused on the great adventure, the quest for mammoths and pursuit of myths. So rather than weigh one against the other I decided which game was preferred would largely turn on whether the gamer was more drawn to Kate Walker or the dream quest. Both are amazing, both are beautifully made and both are worthy of high praise.

So that is where I stand. I cannot give the sequel anything but the high grade it so well deserves, yet I will always hold a special place in my heart for the game that began it all.

And what about the mammoths you may ask. Will we see Mammoths! Hmmmm, I did mention the mammoths at the beginning of this review, didn’t I? Well…the answer to that riddle lies only in the wilds of Syberia, where you must journey and find out for yourself.

Final Grade: A+


I played this game on the following system:


Pent 4 - 2.6 GHz

XP home edition

512 RAM

Nvidia Ge Force 5200

128 Mb video

SB Live sound card

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