Syberia

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
Mammoths feature heavily in this game.

Kate Walker, a lawyer working for an American toy company, comes to a remote French village of Valadilene to finalize the purchase of the local "toy factory". Very soon, however, she discovers that the owner of the factory, Anna Voralberg, has recently passed away but there is an heir: Anna's long-lost little brother Hans. She also learns that the factory didn't produce "toys"--but instead, "automatons", Ridiculously Human Clockwork Creatures imbued with a Soul by their inventor... who just happens to be none other than Hans Voralberg himself. Both intrigued by Hans' persona and determined to finish the deal, Kate embarks on a surrealistic journey through all the failed utopias of Europe in pursuit of the elusive craftsman, whose lifetime goal is to reach Syberia, a mysterious island in the Russian Arctic where mammoths are still rumored to exist...

Syberia (not to be confused with that cold, unfriendly place in Soviet Russia called Siberia) is a Clock Punk Adventure Game duology, developed by Microids, designed by Benoit Sokal, and written by Catherine Peyrot. Originally planned as a single game, it was split in two due to Executive Meddling, with Syberia being released in 2002 and Syberia II, in 2004. The original game became an epic Flame Bait immediately after the release: while the hardcore, long-time adventure gamers panned it for a simple story and primitive puzzles, the newer generation (many of them introduced to the genre through Syberia in the first place) universally admired its artwork and atmosphere, considering it a Spiritual Successor to The Longest Journey classic. When the second game came about, most players who expected a repetition of the Syberia wonder were disappointed, for the original atmosphere has been lost in development, which many attributed to Sokal's lack of involvement with it.

Microids announced Syberia 3 for 2010 and although it may have been an April Fools' joke, the press release was followed by another, more serious one. It will follow the adventures of Kate Walker as she travels across Europe and Russia. Eight years passed between development, and the game was released in April 2017, fourteen years after the first one.

Tropes used in Syberia include:
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Cornelius Pons, the chief paleontologist of the university in Barrockstadt and an old friend of Hans. He's one of the most polite and good-willing characters you meet in the course of both games.
  • The Alcoholic/Drowning My Sorrows: The ageing astronaut from the abandoned and neglected Komkolzgrad cosmodrome. He considerably brightens up when you help him fulfill his dream of becoming more than a mere former test pilot. He takes off into low Earth orbit in a pretty cool Space Plane... launched by a clockwork-powered catapult designed by Hans, no less!
  • Bag of Holding: Everything Kate picks up, she tucks into her jacket.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The sailor from Barrockstadt is this trope real-time incarnate. Even if he's not really quite accurate to this trope, he manages to have German, French, Russian, Portuguese and English words mixed onto one language.

Sailor: Guten tag, schoene madmoiselle!

  • Cell Phone: Kate's conversations with her colleagues and friends back in US are the biggest source of her characterization in the game. They also serve to underline the contrast between the dull, mundane modern life and the impossibly beautiful worlds Kate travels through.
  • Clock Punk/Steampunk: Tons of it, especially in Valadilene, the ancestral home of the whole Voralberg family.
    • Komkolzgrad also showcases a hearty chunk of Soviet-style Dieselpunk.
  • Clockwork Creature: The automatons. That includes all of them, since all creations of Hans are, in a way, alive. Yes, the Cool Train, too.
  • Concept Art Gallery: Plays during the credits.
  • Cool Old Guy: Several. But especially Hans Voralberg.
  • Cool Old Lady : Helena Romanski, a former Russian opera singer, from the first game.
  • Cool Ship: The Yukol "Mammoth Ark". It's referenced a bit in the first game, while you're visiting Barrockstadt and attend the lecture of Absent-Minded Professor Pons about Yukol culture. Guess what? You get to travel aboard it during the last few stages of the second game!
  • Cool Train: The one Kate journeys on was built by Hans and originally meant as a gift for his sister Anna, who was supposed to join him on their way to Syberia.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kate.
  • Ditzy Genius: Hans.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Helena Romanski passes away between the two games.
  • Dub Name Change: The Russian translation changes one of the cities' names, Komkolzgrad, to Komsomolskgrad. For obvious reasons [1].
  • Eagle Land: The first game has a Type 2 view on America. Even Kate is portrayed as a whiney would-be layabout until she does a little exploring.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Hans definitely qualifies.
  • For Inconvenience Press One: Happens to your phone calls in Barrockstadt.
  • Fridge Logic: Given how Hans Voralberg seems to have taken the time to set up everything he needed to get to Syberia some time before Kate showed up, a lot of questions get raised about how perfectly these inventions work and why Hans was still somehow unable to get to Syberia on his own.
    • He was able to get to Syberia for ages but he waited for Anna. Kate, who brought him the news of Anna's death, then became his surrogate big sister.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Hans. The Yukol tribes also have various ingenous contraptions, even though it's nothing but Bamboo Technology.
  • Hero Antagonist: The PI who was hired to find Kate. Unlike his employers, he's not portrayed in any negative light at all other than that he would have stood in the way of Kate's quest if he hadn't been forced to give up the search.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Ivan from the second game. Twice.
  • In Soviet Russia, Trope Mocks You: Seeing how some 60% of the duology are set in Russia, there's a lot of Russian stereotyping going on. Interestingly, despite that, it is extremely popular in Russia.
    • Maybe because it's actually a pretty mild form of stereotyping, and feels full of deliberate subversions, making it a possible Stealth Deconstruction of sorts.
  • Large Ham: The priest/head of the monastery in the second game.
    • The shopkeeper who welcomes you to Romansbourg at the start of the secon game fits this like a glove as well.
    • Also, Sergei Borodine in the first game, during your second visit to Komkolzgrad.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: In the second game, there's a short mission with an island full of Penguins... but you've just crossed the ARCTIC circle!
  • Mundane Fantastic/Magical Realism: The whole series is arguably built on this... The various places you visit on your quest to find Hans and Syberia have a dreamy, often surreal feel to them - as if they existed halfway between our real world and a slightly more fantastic version of it. They're all deliberately stylized and exaggerated versions of various generic European and Russian locales and regions.
  • Noble Savage: The Yukol tribes in general. They're sort of a subversion, being likeable and amusing instead of insufferable Can't Argue with Elves types. And they have a pretty impressive and ancient Stone Punk civilization.
  • Not Using the Z Word: Oscar is especially persistent about being called "automaton" instead of "robot".
  • Odd Couple: Kate and Oscar.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: One in Komkolzgrad.
  • One Game for the Price of Two
    • Despite being slighty more simplistic to the original (and bordering nearby the Porting Disaster scale), the DVD release zig zaggs this by giving you three DVDs with both games in one package... or two games for the price of three.
  • Our Souls Are Different: The automatons have a soul. What "souls" are is never explained.
  • Retro Universe: The entire series, really. Boy, Kate sure has problems trying to stumble over anything resembling the more mundane parts of Europe and Russia...
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter/Mix and Match Critter: Yuki, Kate's Non-Human Sidekick from the second game. He's basically sort of... like a... young polar bear crossed with a baby seal... thing... And eats a lot and acts pretty much like a dog.
  • Ridiculously-Human Robots: The automatons, especially Oscar, your locomotive driver.
  • Scenery Porn: The background artworks are amazing.
  • Spock Speak: Oscar, especially in the first game.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Sergei Borodin, the lonely and mildly insane foreman of the old Komkolzgrad factory, is apparently Helena Romanski's biggest Fan Boy.
  • Take That: Kate's arc in the first game seems to be this to America. The second game contains a somewhat more subtle Take That to Christianity (complete with some rather narmy strawmen).
    • Actually, only the Orthodox priest that governs the local monastery in Romansbourg is a clear Strawman Political, not very willing to help you because of his inner pride. Hans, while delirious, calls him "...an ass !". Later on, when he and Kate leave the monastery, Kate has now become the one disillusioned by the priest's behaviour, while Hans seems surprisingly forgiving and exclaims "He's just misguided and a bit too self-centered.". The monks are portrayed sympathetically, even though they are mostly Cloudcuckoolanders. The Russian missionary that studied the Yukol culture decades before Hans and Kate is also portrayed as a kind and humble man (if his diary and notes are any indication).
      • Then again, his epitaph is Latin for "God has destroyed my science".
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Ivan and Igor. They're the main antagonists of the second game.
  • Translation Convention
  • Welcome to Corneria: The things in the middle of the dialogue do vary depending on the context, but, oddly enough, the beginnings and endings to them are usually the same.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Oscar does this to Kate twice in an optional dialogue path during the first visit to Komkolzgrad. The first time: Kate believes that the person who broke into the train and assaulted Oscar could have been Hans Voralberg. Oscar is not pleased when he hears this and claims that "a father would never attack his offspring". Kate also admits that her theory was far-fetched. The second time: Kate tells Oscar that she's had enough with adventures, and she considers returning home and telling her boss that Hans Voralberg is dead. Oscar is shocked when he learns that Kate is ready to lie to her superiors, and tells her he'd thought she was a sincere and honest person.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: You hitch a ride on an old automatic airship from Komkolzgrad to Aralbad and back in the first game. The whole ship is neglected and rusty, but still works like a charm.
  1. Inside the original game, at least.