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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: May 5, 2004
When any game is released to rave reviews, it poses a major challenge for a sequel to live up to expectations. Such is the case with Syberia, a magnificent adventure title developed by Benoit Sokal and Microids in 2002. Inundated by praise from all sides as one of the best adventure offerings of all time, it was undoubtedly a hard act to follow. Now Microids has released Syberia II, and the inevitable question is whether this sequel can hold a candle to its illustrious predecessor.
The story in Syberia II continues the saga begun in the original release. Last time around, our heroine, Kate Walker, started out as a New York attorney who went on a simple excursion to France to seal a business agreement. After a series of bizarre events, she decided to leave her former life (and her insensitive, repulsive boyfriend) to help an elderly creative gadget designer named Hans Voralberg. Syberia II has her continuing, despite the pleas from home to return to the United States, the journey with Hans to the remote island of Syberia, filled with living mammoths. Accompanying you again is the irritating automaton Oscar. The plot this time is a lot simpler and more straightforward than the original, and for that reason a bit less engrossing.
You traverse several interesting physical environments in Syberia II. You begin in the small frontier town of Romansburg, and proceed to explore a majestic monastery nestled high in the mountains. Then you go deep into the frozen north, later finding a cave village of a primitive people called the Youkol. Passing through Penguin Island, you finally try to make it to your ultimate destination – Syberia. Although the locales lack the commonality of crumbling disrepair present in the original release, the one unifying theme of all the physical environments Kate visits is that they are all icy and cold, fostering both a positive sense of continuity and a negative sense of monotony.
While in Syberia Kate underwent a remarkable transformation in her values and life direction, here she appears remarkably static. She is decidedly focused and determined to help Hans reach his goal, not letting any obstacle stand in their way, yet we never really learn why she does this (or, for that matter, why her law firm wants her back so desperately). If she evidenced growing affection for Hans, that might explain it, but this emotional development is not really in evidence. So in the first installment you ended up rapt with attention about Kate’s every utterance, while here you find yourself dozing through many because everything seems so uneventful.
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