Syberia – Valadilene (Dimitri Bodiansky)

From Microïds and belgian video games creator – Benoît Sokal, Syberia attempts to put new life into slowly pushed back adventure games genre. It actually consists of two parts, Syberia I and II, but it’s one story. A beautiful story. Here we play as Kate Walker, young american laywer who was assigned a special mission to finalize a takeover of a toy factory in a French mountain village of Valadilene. What appears to be just an inconvenient weekend trip, quickly turns out to be a life-defining adventure of Kate. When she arrives, she finds that the current factory boss – Anna Voralberg just passed away and the last outstanding member of the family, the founder of the factory – Hans – is missing. Kate attempts to pursue him in order to get the final signature. Anna will meet a bizarre companion – Oscar, the automaton. Oscar, with manners of english butler combined with naivety of a teddy bear will make a good friend in trouble. The story evolves in such a way, that the player feels Oscar, with his logic and devotion is sometimes more human and “real” than most people. Kate will travel in a fantasy-train built by Hans Voralberg, which main source of power is … a wind-up mechanism. That’s right – on each station you have to wind your choo-choo up. Then, finally, when Kate meets Hans at the end of the journey, she discovers that she learned a lot about him, his dreams and imagination but also about herself. Hans’s travel still continues, though. The biggest of his dreams is to see living mamooths, and Hans firmly believe they really exist in deep Syberia. Kate, all set up to go back to America and receive a huge bonus from her boss, will make a decision, whether her life continues as it is or takes another course…

The art style of the game is very unique, you could associate it with modern art or maybe with steampunk at some places. It all feels very nostalgic, melancholic, but there’s hidden beauty in it. Kate herself is again non-typical hero-girl. Her face is modelled with a lot of detail, there’s sorrow, confusion, internal strength, warm. Kate will unlock her emotions and feelings thorough the game. She will place and receive calls to her boyfriend, her best friend, mother, boss. They will either refer what’s going on in “real life” in America or try to bring her back from the crazy journey. The places and people met on the way are also non-typical. It’s mostly Russia with its cold climate and distant people. But when you get to the old Spa of Aralbad, you will simply gasp with amazement. It will bring you your own memories.

The game as a whole feels very complete. Everything fits into place, music, art, gameplay. And it all creates a very epic feeling of a story that is told, to do something with you, to make you better, to make you smarter, make you more open to who you are or who you want to be. Something like the “Neverending story” movie, it’s instantly recognized among adventure games, and while people might not remember particular scenes, they will for sure recall the general feeling through the game. Feeling of having a true life adventure.

More about Syberia –
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syberia

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