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Video Game / Syberia

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Mammoths feature heavily in this game.

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


Syberia (not to be confused with that cold, unfriendly place in Russia called Siberia, or with an older game titled Cyberia) 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 has announced Syberia 3 as far back as 2009, with Benoit Sokal back in the director's seat. The game was originally to be an Intercontinuity Crossover with the Post Mortem/Still Life series (also by Microids), where Kate would have teamed up with Victoria McPherson, — although this ultimately proved to be an April Fools' Day joke by the publisher. At some point after the initial announcement, work on the game has been apparently quietly stopped, before it was Un-Canceled again in 2012 and eventually just as quietly released onto Steam and the PlayStation 4 on April 20, 2017.

In August 2019, Microids announced that work is underway on the next chapter of the franchise, Syberia: the World Before.

This series offers examples of:

  • 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.
  • Abusive Parents: After Hans' accident, he becomes a genius, yet he remains emotionally underdeveloped. His father repeatedly locks him in the attic for days as a punishment.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: Momo from the first game and Malka from the second game are both incredibly adorable. Albeit, Momo's condition makes it somewhat sad.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Kate escapes from the Komkolzgrad mines this way after the elevators are blown up.
  • The Alcoholic: The aging cosmonaut 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!
  • All Take and No Give: Kate's relationship with Dan is exposed to be this as it turns out he doesn't care about her job, responsibilities, or her but wanted her only as a Trophy Wife.
  • Anachronism Stew: If it wasn't for Kate's cell phone and the existence of a fax machine in Valadelene, the player would be forgiven for thinking the game takes place in some Clockpunk version of the early 20th century.
  • Arc Symbol: Mammoths. In a roundabout way, they're the entire reason for Hans' condition, and the reason he left home, and thus the reason Kate spends the game chasing after him.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Komkolzgrad's name. It does seem to follow the pattern of syllabic abbreviations common in the Soviet Union, with "grad" meaning "city" and "kom" presumably standing for "kommunistichesky" (communist), but the "kolz" element has no discernible meaning.
  • Back from the Dead: Oscar's resurrected about halfway through the third game, by way of Kate placing his clockwork heart in a new body. The reason for such a momentous act? There's a car Kate can't operate herself.
  • Bag of Holding: Everything Kate picks up, she tucks into her jacket.
  • Bamboo Technology: In the Youkol village everything is made out of wood and mammoth ivory, including a huge drumming machine and a mechanism that can pull a train into the cave.
  • Bears Are Bad News: In the second game, Kate encounters a grizzly bear while in the hunting cabin. Apparently, giving it its favorite fish satisfies its hunger.
  • Big Bad: Borodine ends up serving as this for the final half of the first game.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Boris saves Kate from the Bourgoffs by flying over them in his plane, albeit inadvertently.
  • Big Red Button: The Ferris wheel in Baranour Park has one. Pressing it at the appropriate time solves the area's major puzzle (and also destroys half of the surrounding architecture).
  • 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, schöne mademoiselle!
    • In the second game, the deceased monk's name in the Russian monastery is written in Greek on his grave.
    • Steiner's dialogue is peppered with German phrases, like Donnerwetter ("gosh/golly!") and Himmelherrgott ("for God's sake!").
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: One puzzle requires you to make a cocktail. You're told you need lime juice, but all you have is a lemon. It works anyway. Why? The names (and availability) of citrus fruits vary greatly from country to country, and whoever translated the puzzle didn't keep the names consistent between the graphics, text, and audio.
  • Cassandra Truth: Captain Obo claims there's a terrible monster in the lake, but nobody believes him because they think he's making excuses for his actions 20 years ago. Kate later finds out that he's right.
    • Kate also experiences this trying to convince hospital staff that Olga is making her look crazy to justify keeping her against her will. Her claims against Olga are written off as paranoia until Olga locks down the hospital and brings in military goons to keep Kurk from leaving.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A literal example, in the third game. The Krystal features a shotgun prominently mounted on the wall, which you have to walk past several times as you complete various puzzles to get the ship running. It's fired multiple times later on.
  • Clock Punk:
    • Tons of it, especially in Valadilene, the ancestral home of the whole Voralberg family.
    • Komkolzgrad also showcases a hearty chunk of Soviet-style Diesel Punk.
  • Clockwork Creature: The automatons. That includes all of them, since all creations of Hans are, in a way, alive. Yes, the Cool Train, too.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Ending a conversation with Oscar frequently ends with a common call-and-response phrase completely flying over his head, even though he comes this close to the correct response.
    Kate: See you later, alligator.
    Oscar: In a while, Kate Walker.
  • Commissar Cap: The soldier who guards the Barrockstadt gate wears one.
  • Control Room Puzzle:
    • In the Valedilene factory, you have to activate the machine that makes a leg for Oscar.
    • In Komkolzgrad, launching the cosmonaut's plane requires you to figure out how the controls work first.
    • In Aralbad there is a cocktail machine with piano keys. After finding out the recipe for the required cocktail, you need to figure out how the machine works.
    • The second game has one in the monastery, where you have to light a series of candles in the right combination.
    • Also in the second game, there are multiple puzzles with the crashed plane. First, you have to figure out how to turn on power. Then, set the radio to the correct frequency to communicate with the pilot who is stuck on a tree. Finally, aim the ejector seat to reach the train. The latter two requires you to walk between the plane and a nearby radar station, possibly multiple times.
  • Concept Art Gallery: Plays during the credits.
  • Cool Old Guy: Most of the population in the games are elderly people who have amazing secrets or live in incredible towns.
  • Cool Old Lady: Helena Romanski, a former Russian opera singer, from the first game. Kate's mother absolutely adores her.
  • 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 frequently is this when dealing with all the bizarre puzzles she has to deal with as well as the eccentricies of the people she meets.
  • Death Equals Redemption: In the third game, Captain Obo makes up for his greatest failure in Baranour 20 years ago by sacrificing himself to distract the lake monster so Kate and the Youkols can continue their journey safely.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Dream Sequence in the second game features a sepia-toned version of Valadilene.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The word "retard" is dropped a couple times in regards to Hans' condition, first in an old diary of Anna's from the 1930's, then again by the aging Pons at Barrockstadt.
  • Desolation Shot: Baranour gets quite a few, given its status as a radioactive hellscape.
  • Ditzy Genius: Hans is capable of building sentient Clock Punk robots and prefers the company of toys to people.
  • Dream Sequence: In the second game, Kate enters Hans' dreams to find out how he could be cured.
  • Dying Town: Almost every location Kate travels through in the first game appears to be a half deserted town past its prime:
    • Valadilene was once world-famous for its automaton factory. Since then it seems to have fallen on hard times as the demand for Voralberg automatons decreased, and many young people left the town to seek employment elsewhere. Many inhabitants fear that the death of Anna Voralberg may mean the shutdown of the factory and the ultimate end of the town.
    • Despite all its grandeur, there appear to be almost no students on the campus of Barrockstadt University. Local stationmaster admits that, while he still remembers days when students would come from all around the world to study in Barrockstadt, he hasn't seen a train come to the station in a very long time.
    • Komkolzgrad, once a renowned and highly advanced (for it's time, at least) mining, smelting, processing and manufacturing complex, very possibly considered to be the pinnacle of Soviet (Han's) engineering, now stands almost completely abandoned, save for the tiny mining automatons that still roam between it's rusted walls. No doubt a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union (or some similar in-universe event).
    • The Yukol colony on Syberia Island itself seems to have died out entirely some years before Kate and Hans arrive there, although the mammoths survived in the humans' absence.
  • Dub Name Change: The Russian translation changes one of the cities' names, Komkolzgrad, to Komsomolskgrad for obvious reasons.note  In the second game, Romansbourg became Romanovsk, the Colonel was given surname Emelyanov, Cirkos became a Jew Izya (Israel) Zuckerman, the Bourgoffs became Bugrovs, and Alexey Toukianoff became Tukanov.
  • 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.
  • Evil Poacher: The second game has Ivan who, after hearing about the mammoths, decides to steal the train and get the ivory for himself. His brother, Igor, accompanies him, but he is not evil, he just follows Ivan blindly and leaves when things start getting frightening.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: In the Valadilene church you can use different punch cards to play different music on the bells. There is one card that makes the bells toll, which makes the automaton on the crypt entrance raise his hat, which reveals the keyhole that opens the crypt door.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Happens to your phone calls in Barrockstadt.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Hans. The Yukol tribes also have various ingenious contraptions, even though it's nothing but Bamboo Technology.
  • Ghost Town: Komkolzgrad was once a Communist industrial complex, but has since been abandoned. The only people left are crazed director of the complex Siergiej Borodin and former cosmonaut-turned-alcoholic Borys Charow.
  • Hamster-Wheel Power: Both a vehicle in Romansbourg and a gateway in Syberia are operated by Youki Wheel Power in the second game. Foreshadowed in the first game, where a factory device is powered by a mechanical rat-like critter in a hamster wheel.
  • Healing Herb: The Youkol people know some of these. In the second game it is required to heal Hans.
  • Hero Antagonist: The PI who was hired to find Kate. Unlike his employers, he's not portrayed in any negative light, other than being dedicated to bringing Kate back to the U.S. even if it's against her will.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Oscar willingly lays down his life so that a rapidly-weakening Hans can finish his journey to Syberia to see the mammoths. A more humorous example happens in the third game, where Oscar finds himself locked in a room due to a mechanical problem and implores Kate to leave him behind and go on without him. If you've explored the area thoroughly before this point, you can solve the puzzle trapping him in less than a minute.
  • Hope Spot: The escape from Komkolzgrad has several. Apparently, Borodin has a flare for dramatic, as he repeatedly manages to block the exit paths just the right time.
  • Ice Palace: A full-blown Ice Village in the second game, carved from the interior of a glacial hill.
  • Idiot Savant: Hans ends up with a mental disability due to an accident, but at the same time becomes an incredibly gifted engineer.
  • Idle Animation: Kate makes different random movements if you stay at one place long enough. In the third game, Oscar will fiddle with the joints in his knees and arms if left idle for a few seconds.
  • Interface Spoiler: A subtle example in the third game. The fact that Oscar's heart is an inventory item rather than just part of Kate's character model implies that you'll be using it in a puzzle at some point...
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: It does at Anna's.
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet: Not said explicitly, but the situation is invoked once the player arrives in Komkolzgrad. After Valadeline and Barrockstadt, where much ado was made about getting the train ready for departure, the player arrives in the seemingly-abandoned Komkolzgrad, where they're quickly able to get the train wound and ready to go, and not a single ticket station is in sight to distract Oscar with regulations and paperwork. It seems almost too easy... And then Borodine sneaks onto the train, subdues Oscar and steals his hands.
  • Jerkass: Dan plays this role in his relationship with Kate as he's not only shocked she's not going to be able to make a dinner party but might be gone an entire week. He also is cheating on her with her best friend. Kate, rightfully, tells him to take a hike at the end.
  • Keywords Conversation: Dialogue is facilitated by Kate's writing pad, wherein she collects relevant keywords and can interview each character she meets about them.
  • Large Ham:
    • The priest/head of the monastery in the second game.
    • The shopkeeper who welcomes you to Romansbourg at the start of the second game fits this like a glove as well.
    • Also, Sergei Borodin in the first game, during your second visit to Komkolzgrad.
  • Lawful Stupid: Despite having self-awareness Oscar is insufferably obsessed with following proper procedure, refusing to leave the station until Kate has all the proper paperwork. The only time he abandons procedure is when the two of them are in a life-threatening situation and need to flee as soon as possible, and even then Kate has to yell at him to get him to do it.
  • Loading Screen: The third game has a couple between maps, depending on your computer's specs. They generally feature summary information about characters or plot points of the prior games.
  • Meaningful Name: Professor Pons, one of the smarter characters Kate meets, has the same name as a region of the brain.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Hans is really short, especially compared to the flashbacks and visions of his sister and father.
  • 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.
    • Even more so with mammoths. Who, it turns out, survived their apparent extinction and continue to live in Syberia.
  • Mundane Fantastic: 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 are both decent people as well as living a primitive lifestyle.
  • Nostalgia Level: In the second game, Kate revisits Valadilene, the town where the first game begins, during a Dream Sequence.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Oscar is especially persistent about being called "automaton" instead of "robot". Possibly justified, since the game is set in the right area for people to be aware that "robot" is Czech for "slave".
  • Odd Couple: Kate and Oscar.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Komkolzgrad has one and it pipes out quite a bit of ominous music.
  • 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. Given the oddity of the place, it could be something supernatural, or it might just be Hans created clockwork A.I. which is miracle enough. Whatever the case, limited in his functions or not, Oscar certainly passes the Turing Test.
  • Plot Detour: As soon as Borodine steals Oscar's hands in Komkolzgrad, the plot takes a giant detour as Kate gets roped into Borodine's scheme to track down Helena Romanski and get her to sing at his factory, which he repurposed into an opera house. Even Kate herself lampshades how much of a detour this is on multiple occasions.
  • Pre-Rendered Graphics: The cutscenes of Syberia are pre-rendered.
  • Pretty in Mink: Kate wears a fur-lined jacket when it's colder than usual.
  • 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: 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.
    • The snow ostriches from Syberia 3 fall more into the Ridiculously Ugly Cute category.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The automatons, especially Oscar, your locomotive driver. Oscar, at the very least, is able to hold lengthy conversations about subjects unrelated to his function even if he doesn't like it.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The game's central theme is visiting places where idealism, big dreams, and magnificent ideas have been abandoned by the young but entice Kate away from her vapid life back in New York City. There's a general sense of science being a good thing but it easily being taken for granted by the people who wield it.
  • Scenery Porn: The background artworks are amazing.
  • Schizo Tech: Lampshaded in a dialog option while Kate is looking for gasoline to power an electric generator in order to operate the machine that will load coal into her clockwork train so it won't freeze on the journey north.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Igor leaves from the Youkol village because he is afraid of the spirits.
  • Shout-Out: References to Sokal's previous adventure game AmerZone appear in the first game's Barrockstadt segment.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Some puzzles come across this way in-universe, especially if you solve them before you're asked to. The player knows that restarting the water wheel in the Voralberg factory as soon as you come across it is probably important to do, even if you've never played the game before, but from Kate's perspective there's absolutely no reason to do that at this point in the game.
  • Species Lost and Found: Tribal legends about still-extant mammoths are what lured the mammoth-obsessed Hans to Russia. Kate encounters actual mammoths when she finally catches up to him.
  • Spock Speak: Oscar, especially in the first game.
  • Stalker Shrine: Borodin has one to Helena Romanski. Made particularly creepy by how some of the dummies posed in copies of her on-stage dresses are missing one or more limbs.
  • 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.
  • Starts with Their Funeral: While Anna is not the protagonist, the game starts with her funeral and she turns out to be an important Posthumous Character.
  • Steampunk: The games are an unusual case as they are set in the Present Day but involve Kate going to nearly deserved villages which have Clock Punk, Steampunk, and Raygun Gothic interiors. There's a strong Romanticism Versus Enlightenment theme to the games with the Old World appealing to Kate more than the modern materialist one she's leaving behind.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Helena Romanski passes away between the two games.
  • Super Cell Reception: Kate's conversations with her colleagues and friends back in US are the biggest source of her characterization in the game, so they can happen anytime and anyplace the writers felt appropriate. They also serve to underline the contrast between the dull, mundane modern life and the impossibly beautiful worlds Kate travels through.
  • 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). There are some positive religious characters in the story, however, and Christian symbolism is spread through all three games.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Ivan and Igor. They're the main antagonists of the second game.
  • Translation Convention: Kate visits a number of out of the way European locales which seem all to speak English.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: And how. Syberia 3's trailers manage to cover nearly every major plot point, including Oscar's resurrection.
  • Undignified Death: Ivan from the second game is apparently pecked to death by penguins. Penguins that aren't even in the right hemisphere, at that.
  • 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.
  • You Are Number 6: Oscar's model number is XZ2000.
  • 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.


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