Follow TV Tropes

Following

Video Game / Syberia

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/syberia1_1730.jpg
Mammoths feature heavily in this game.
Advertisement:

Kate Walker, a lawyer working for an American toy company, comes to the remote French village of Valadilène 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.

Advertisement:

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.

Advertisement:

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. A demo called Syberia: The World Before - Prologue was made available 9 Oct, 2020.


This series offers examples of:

    Multiple games 
  • 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.
  • Adult Fear:
    • One of the redeeming qualities of Mr. Voralberg is that of his feelings towards Hans' fall, in which he will never inherit the factory.
    • Mrs. Walker in the second game is concerned to the point where she threatens Mr. Marston for sending Kate into the wastelands.
  • Anachronism Stew: If it wasn't for Kate's cell phone and the existence of a fax machine in Valadilène, 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.
    • The cross-shaped hole found on all Voralberg automatons and devices. It's where a similarly-shaped key can be used to rewind the clockworks.
  • Bag of Holding: Everything Kate picks up, she tucks into her jacket.
  • Big Bad: Borodine ends up serving as this for the final half of the first game. In the second game, it's the Bourgoff brothers.
  • 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!").
  • Clock Punk:
    • Tons of it, especially in Valadilène, 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.
  • Control Room Puzzle:
    • In the Valedilène 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. In some versions it's accessible from the menu as well.
  • Cool Old Guy: Most of the population in the games are elderly people who have amazing secrets or live in incredible towns.
  • 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.
  • Dying Town: Almost every location Kate travels through in the first game appears to be a half deserted town past its prime:
    • Valadilène 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 its time, at least) mining, smelting, processing and manufacturing complex, very possibly considered to be the pinnacle of Soviet (and Hans') engineering, now stands almost completely abandoned, save for the tiny mining automatons that still roam between its rusted walls. No doubt a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union (or some similar in-universe event).
    • Aralbad used to be a high-end spa resort for the Soviet high society. In the present, while still operating, it has only three seen guests (one of which is an aging opera singer in permanent retirement) and a disinterested concierge, and the shore drying up has left unbreathable amounts of salt in the air outside.
    • The Youkol 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 named Izya (Israel) Zuckerman, the Bourgoffs became Bugrovs, and Alexey Toukianoff became Tukanov.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Hans. The Youkol tribes also have various ingenious contraptions, even though it's nothing but Bamboo Technology.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Borodine in the first game, during your second visit to Komkolzgrad.
  • Meaningful Name: Professor Pons, one of the smarter characters Kate meets, has the same name as a region of the brain.
    • The Voralberg siblings are named after the western Austrian region of Vorarlberg, a mountainous paradise known for its alpine scenery.
    • Of course, the heroine of the Road Trip Plot is named Kate Walker.
  • 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 Youkol tribes in general are both decent people as well as living a primitive lifestyle.
  • Odd Couple: Kate and Oscar.
  • 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 zags 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.
  • Pre-Rendered Graphics: The cutscenes of Syberia and Syberia II are pre-rendered.
  • 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: Youki, 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 Cuteinvoked 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.
  • Road Trip Plot: Kate Walker goes in search of the owner of a toy manufacture to get his signature on the sales contract, by travelling on a clockwork train across Europe. In the second game, once met said owner, she travels alongside him to complete his voyage of a lifetime, while in the third game she has to assist the Youkol with the snow ostrich migration.
  • Scenery Porn: The background artworks are amazing.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In the demo for the fourth game, Kate receives news of her mother's passing.
  • 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.
  • Translation Convention: Kate visits a number of out of the way European locales which seem all to speak English.
  • 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.

    Syberia 
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Kate escapes from the Komkolzgrad mines this way after the elevators are blown up.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The opera singer Kate needs to find and fetch to Komkolzgrad in order to continue her journey just so happens to be a close friend and former colleague of the guy who's currently dating Kate's mom back in the US.
  • 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.
  • Dénouement: The second visit to Aralbad. Kate has the chance to say some parting words to Oscar and Helena Romanski, before meeting Hans on the pier and boarding her plane back to New York.
  • 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.
  • Environmental Symbolism: Komkolzgrad has large underground dimly-lit factory areas, two enormous workers' statues blocking the train, ominous music, and to boot it's the only place in the first game which is visited at nighttime. It's also where the only proper villain of the game (Serguei Borodine) is found.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: In the Valadilène 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.
  • Ghost Town: Komkolzgrad was once a Communist industrial complex, but has since been abandoned. The only people left are crazed director of the complex Serguei Borodine and former cosmonaut-turned-alcoholic Boris Tcharow.
    • While not completely abandoned, the other three places visited (Valadilène, Barrockstadt and Aralbad) are well past their prime and almost devoid of human life.
  • 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.
  • 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 Valadilène 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.
  • Leaving You to Find Myself: Kate maturely breaks up with Dan over the phone, after she realises that he's happier with Olivia and that her journey has made her unable to reconnect with her former life in the US.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Komkolzgrad has one and it pipes out quite a bit of ominous music.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Saharan Shipwreck: Aralbad prominently features a couple of beached ships. Justified since they're not far from the receding shore, and the place is based around the real-life Aral sea.
  • Shout-Out: References to Sokal's previous adventure game AmerZone appear in the first game's Barrockstadt segment.
    • The Aralbad locale, from its name to the scenery shots of the receding shore and boats aground, is obviously meant to be placed near the real-life Aral Sea, once the fourth biggest lake on Earth, now almost completely dried up.
  • Stalker Shrine: Borodine 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Syberia II 
  • 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 Damn Heroes: Boris saves Kate from the Bourgoffs by flying over them in his plane, albeit inadvertently.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Dream Sequence features a sepia-toned version of Valadilène.
  • Dream Sequence: Kate enters Hans' dreams to find out how he could be cured.
  • Healing Herb: The Youkol people know some of these. In the second game it is required to heal Hans.
  • Ice Palace: A full-blown Ice Village in the second game, carved from the interior of a glacial hill.
  • 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.
  • Nostalgia Level: Towards the end, Kate revisits Valadilène, the town where the first game begins, during a Dream Sequence.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: When the ark finally comes to Syberia, the cutscene shows an aged white-haired sentinel watching its arrival. When Kate goes to meet him on the lookout, he suddenly falls apart - he's nothing but a long-dead mummy.
  • 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.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Ivan and Igor. They're the main antagonists of the second game.
  • Undignified Death: Ivan is apparently pecked to death by penguins. Penguins that aren't even in the right hemisphere, at that.

    Syberia 3 
  • Back from the Dead: Oscar's resurrected about halfway through, 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Death Equals Redemption: 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.
  • Desolation Shot: Baranour gets quite a few, given its status as a radioactive hellscape.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Snow ostriches and their migration ritual are presented as a central part of Youkol culture, with some even describing their relationship as symbiotic, despite none of the previous two games (which both included lectures and/or books on Youkol culture) mentioning this aspect and no snow ostriches appearing in the Youkol village in Syberia II.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: And how. Syberia 3's trailers manage to cover nearly every major plot point, including Oscar's resurrection.

    Syberia: The World Before 
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The game alternates between two protagonists: Kate, who starts the game imprisoned in a salt mine in the early 2000s, and Dana Roze, a young piano student in central Europe in 1937.
  • Big "NO!": Kate does it at the end of the demo, as Simona the guard shoots her gun at either her or Katyusha.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Dana's story features the rise of the "Brown Shadow", which coincides in all but name with nazifascism.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Katyusha, a former member of a Russian punk band who was jailed for insubordination, is a pretty obvious reference to Pussy Riot.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Dana Roze's name. Her mother, father and music teacher all pronounce her first name in a different way. Not to mention the teacher, who has a German accent, saying Dana's last name with an English pronunciation ("rows") instead of what should be a German one ("rho-ze").
  • One Steve Limit: Zig-Zagged: Kate's cellmate and lover is named Katyusha, which is the Russian affectionate form of Kate/Katherine.
  • Time Skip: Kate's story takes place in winter 2004, a little over a year after Syberia 3 ended.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report