You didn’t hear about Syberia III at E3.
And for good reason. Games made in 2002 aren’t news anymore, and when a sequel is made more than a decade later, it might be hard to drum up excitement for an indie game. But if its predecessors are any indicator, this is a game to look out for.
Syberia is the story of Kate Walker, a lawyer sent to the French town of Valadilene to seal the deal on the sale of an old automaton factory. Few people live in Valadilene, the factory has gone downhill pretty quickly and the owner of it suddenly dies before being able to speak with Kate. It is up to the player, as Kate, to track down the heir to the Valadilene factory and get him to sign it over.
The game mechanics are simple, and it has the feel of a Nancy Drew game. Anything clickable has an icon over it, and the entire game is walking from place to place, solving minor puzzles, interrogating people and doing a fair amount of breaking and entering. She’s a great lawyer.
But in all honesty, Kate Walker is an excellent protagonist. She is smart, rarely takes no for an answer and stays grounded and focused while the rest of the characters are aloof. She is also understanding to the mentally disabled characters in the game while others just brush them aside. And kudos to the game artists for not sexualizing Kate’s appearance. She actually (gasp!) looks like a real woman traveling for work. Amazing.
What actually is amazing, and keeps Syberia relevant for people wanting to get into the series, is the art. In a game where the puzzles are simple and you cannot die or make a wrong decision, it’s easy to relax and get completely immersed in this beautiful steampunk-esque world of charming automatons, giant mammoths and rich nature scenes.
The game promised for this year isn’t the only sequel. There was another one, Syberia II, that came out two years after the first. The story picked up right where Syberia left off and had somewhat of a cliffhanger ending that left some players dissatisfied. On top of that, an 11-year wait for the next installment in the Syberia series is asking a lot of the fans.
Syberia III was first announced in 2009, but the creator, Benoît Sokal, refused to participate in its creation unless there was sufficient funding to design it properly. By 2011, development still hadn’t started. But in 2012, Sokal signed a contract with Anuman Interactive, a French game developer, and production was underway.
The game is supposed to be released this year, and if it’s anything like the first two renditions, Syberia III will be a work of art.