E3 2016: Syberia 3: Beyond the Mammoths

Many moons ago, I fell in love with an extremely charming adventure game, called Syberia. At its core, it was about a woman, who worked for a law firm, sent to the fictional town of Valadilene to close a deal on a toy company being sold. What begins as a boring, albeit arduous, trip into Eastern(-ish) Europe over a formality turns into a cross-country journey on a clockwork train in search of a nigh mythical lost heir and woolly mammoths. Over the course of two games, this and the sequel, Kate finds herself and a new purpose after abandoning her family and friends entirely.

So imagine my sheer joy when I learned that after so long, Microids is finally making a third game in the series, carrying Kate’s adventure just a little bit further. Apparently, after leaving Hans, she nearly dies in the frozen tundra, and the game begins with her in a hostpital. When she wakes up, Kurk, a spiritual leader for the Youkols, the mysterious tribe tied to the mammoths in the previous two games, is in the room with her, himself injured with an amputated leg. Kate’s first task is just getting out of the room, which, of course, can only be accomplished via some complicated adventure game logic.

This was an opportunity for Microids to demonstrate how the item interaction has changed since the previous two games. In this case, Kate needed to get a call button working. When examining it, she was able move her view to look at the other sides, which revealed a set of instructions. After picking up a knife from a nearby tray and examining the button again, she tried using it to turn a screw. This time around, instead of just clicking and watching the screw automatically fall out, players must hold a button and rotate the left stick to turn the knife. It reminds me a bit of the added physicality in Myst IV: Revelation.

A good amount of the adventure, apparently, is just leaving the hospital. Kate will need to convince one doctor that she’s mentally stable despite her mammoth tale, and then find a way out after discovering another doctor is working with mercenaries to stop her. Microids showed off a really lovely new feature regarding puzzles and background music. For lengthier puzzles, the music, composed by Inon Zur, will gradually escalated. In one example, it started with light strings, added small bells, and ended with a booming choir. The soundtrack honestly was stunning, and that was just for one small puzzle.

There is still so much I’m curious about regarding this adventure. Syberia II felt very much like closure at the time that I played it. But it makes sense that Kate needs to find something to do with her life now that she’s utterly abandoned everything she’s ever known for this fantastic adventure. According to the developers, the purpose behind her trials this time will be to find the Youkol a new sacred place to live. And even though she’s a fictional character, I hope she finds a home for herself.