JustinF.Dec 8, 2007"Don't Want To Go Down There" or "Fetch Another Key, Jerkface" imagine a game in which, in order to traverse your avatar over shallow inclines, you are required to press the action button. further, imagine that this novel mechanic put your avatar through a 20 second ordeal in which it backs up, spins around and moonwalks into an exact position before it slowly ascends the staircase. trying out doors and finding them locked is similar in this game. imagine then that staircases are all over the place and 80% of the doors in the game which display an icon prompting you to try them out turn out to be merely cosmetic. imagine a game of sweeping artistic vision with lushly rendered vistas which, through the injudicious application of invisble walls, your avatar moves amongst as if on a rail between cardboard setpeices in a gradeschool pageant. indeed, your avatar casts no reflections and no shadow, but a blurry patch of grey which extends out behind you even when the sun is at your back. imagine art direction so beautifully realized that the developers wouldn't dream of allowing you to navigate it through a first person scheme - or even a third-person scheme - but instead chose to break each environment up into six or seven fixed camera shots which load seperately as you move from one to the other. now consider the richly aggrivating experience of gameplay which consists entirely of numb "find the key and bring it back" puzzles through these camera angles. 70% of this game consists of guiding your avatar from one edge of the screen to the other. when i started counting these, i got up to 17 - 17 walking screens between "finding the key" and "bringing it back". if this sounds insultingly unchallenging, think again! you see, there are multiple meta challenges embedded in this, thanks in part to two-axis movement, because, even though your avatar has only two axese of movement, the "rail" you're constricted to is as crooked and cragely as a weathered oak branch. so you can get stuck simply by walking behind something. because your avatar is clipped by invisible walls rather than the actual objects in the environment, it's difficult to judge what sort of berth to allow yourself. the exit and entry points to a given screen are also restricted by these invisible walls. in fact, the developers, aparently aknowleging the aesthetic philosophy of post-modernism, dealt with the frame created by the television set in a novel way. whereas the paradigm of the "frame" traditionally anticipates that the virtual environment subject to the gazing eye persists beyond the boundries of the "frame" in a virtual landscape beyond the actual space the imag[ed] image inhabits, the dev team has decided to clip your character at the edges of the screen, regardless of how distant or near your avatar is to the camera. that is, except at those points where they let you move out of the frame. needless to say, sometimes you're not so much "let out" but hijacked and driven into the ajacent camera angle, which is weird, considering that they forgot how to place triggers when it came to replacing walk animations with walk up stairs animations. perhaps because your avatar has a sum total of three animations (walk, run, walk upstairs) they wanted to make you experience each one presently. they also get the most out of the two voice actors they have voicing the two-dozen characters in the game, with the predictable result of, for instance, the second russian character being voiced through a scottish accent solely toward the cause of making one distinguishable from the another. the writing team extended this effort to defeat any tendency on the part of the player to inhabit the world they tried to create. for instance, when you click on a door with a "click here" icon on it, but which in fact leads to nowhere, your avatar says "don't want to go down there." HOW THE HECK DO YOU KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO? if you don't want me to go through a door, lock it and let me rattle the knob. or better yet, don't put a "click here" icon on it! but don't have "me" snottily instruct myself on what i do and don't want to do. all of the dialogue was insipid and over-long; hard to take the first time around, but completely unbearable the third or fourth time you have to scan through it with any given npc to see if the "key" you've just fetched for them has advanced the story at all. if all of the foregoing was was merely an unfortunate set of implementation errors which defeated the appreciation of an otherwise enjoyable steampunk-tinged story about having the courage to trust your own vision and be your real self, i stopped giving a crap long before the final act. and the game crashes. and this was a port from 2003 to xbox from a pc game from 2002. so it's not like i'm ragging on myst. and the game's (french) development team were so impressed with themselves they included a "making of" featurette in the "bonus" materials. but the featurette crashed my xbox when i tried to open it, so i just decided that not ever having to revisit "syberia" again was bonus enough.… Expand
PeteJ.Mar 24, 2004If you have a HDTV you have to at least try this game for the visuals. Yes, the controls stink and the game moves very slowly. If you ever liked any of the "Quests" by Sierra back in the day, you may enjoy this graphical gem.