LifeisXbox’s Syberia – The World Before Review | As we rejoin and continue following the footsteps of Kate Walker, we also continue the journey of the Syberia series in this next instalment called Syberia – The World Before. As an American Lawyer originally from New York, we now find ourselves at the hands of the Militia who have captured us and put us to do slavery work in the salt mines. Still, we are now a year into the future and captivity. However, things suddenly take a shocking turn when an unexpected tragedy occurs and Kate unexpectedly finds herself in search of someone, Dana Roze, after discovering a painting from 1937 that will, inevitably, take her on a journey she never anticipated. Developed by Microids Studio Paris and published by Microids, Syberia – The World Before is a beautiful adventure game that takes place among different continents and time periods, testing the player with puzzles and riddles in a relatively rich and compelling story to keep in touch with the original style of the series. Please note that throughout my review, I will be referring to the game as Syberia: TWB.
Most Memorable Moment
The beginning of the game and the events which followed would have to be the most memorable moment for me as they set the scene and story for the entirety of the game. Seen as I haven’t played the previous games, it gave me an indication of what to expect from the title, including the style of gameplay and scenic visuals. Also, the introduction of the main characters sparked interest for me as it got me wondering how they would cross paths and exactly what would unfold with further discovery into the title.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series S | Review code provided by PR/publisher. This review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Multiple interactions | In every area encountered throughout the playthrough, there are different objects, people, and places which can be interacted with, which also are usually necessary if you want to complete any secondary goals you have active. These also provide key information for some of the main quests and can give additional background information for those wanting to acquire every slither of information they can find. This certainly made me search everywhere thoroughly as I didn’t want to miss anything thus making the game more engaging. For those who like finding every little detail, you’ll definitely feel satisfied with Syberia: TWB.
- Alluring music | The music and soundtrack were an absolute pleasure to listen to in Syberia: TWB which has been composed by Inon Zur. I’m not an avid fan of orchestral music but it suited the theme of the game exceptionally well and admittedly tugged at my heartstrings delightfully. Due to the piano and the Vaghen hymn being two important aspects in Syberia: TWB, it felt wholesome and homely, making me feel welcomed into the lives of the characters and their personal struggles. Music truly does bring people together and create a great sense of connection; absolutely breathtaking.
- Pleasant dialogue | Every time I spoke to someone, whether required or not or even watched the dialogue play out in cutscenes, I was happy to sit back and listen to the conversations. They were mostly informative, kept the story narrative alive, and allowed me the chance to recall and process the prior events. I couldn’t complain about the voice acting as it sounded genuine, clear, and concise. I would say that paying attention to the dialogue was especially important if you want to keep up with the plot of the story; bringing you back down to Earth almost and separating gameplay elements.
- Beautiful scenery | If, like myself, you’re a fan of capturing beautiful scenes and imagery within screenshots then you won’t have any issue with the numerous spectacular views sighted in Syberia: TWB. There are without a doubt plenty of chances where you can admire the beautiful landscape and districts to your heart’s content and I spent a fair amount of my own time trying to get the best shots possible. As there is a range of weather conditions present, this gives you the variety needed to keep the gameplay fresh and surroundings changing with the seasons. The autumn warmth and the harsh winters were my favourites to be in as they both stood out from the crowd in my options.
- Intricate puzzles | As for gameplay, you will either be finding particular items or solving various puzzles in order to progress through the game, edging closer to the conclusion of your search. I thoroughly enjoyed each puzzle I came across and didn’t find them overly complex. In most cases, when I couldn’t figure out what to do, I had missed a key component. If you do have issues, there is a helpful hint option which can be used if and when needed. Placing inventory items in their correct slots within puzzles, figuring out solutions from notes, and working out combinations will be a few of the actions needed. Don’t threat about them though – I think the puzzles work out a treat!
- Enjoyable length | With Syberia: TWB taking me just over twelve hours to complete, I found the gameplay and story to have great pacing, making the game neither too short nor long in length. With investigative puzzle and adventure games such as this one, too much content can be a little overwhelming while short can leave players wanting more detail and an in-depth story, making the overall game time a satisfying length. As completion cannot be achieved in a single playthrough, this also provides a splash of replayability and the option to choose other dialogue options in places.
- Change in time periods | One of the components I found unique to use was that of changing between characters who resided in different time periods but were placed in the exact same scene. By using this, you could go back in time to find solutions for present-day puzzles by consulting important common points of interest. The guidance was welcomed and provided more understanding regarding the story but it also showed the difference between the older and modern appearance time has inflicted, meaning not only damage but the beauty that had blossomed. It made me recognise the beauty of distant but connected time periods and how times had changed.
- Play as different characters | Not only is there the element of different time periods to play with but with these also comes a selection of main characters you have the pleasure of playing as. Being included in the actions of multiple people gave me different perspectives, allowing me to perceive things in my own way and experience important events from those they affected most. It did freshen up the gameplay and scenery, even if only for minimal amounts of time, to allow everything to interlock eventually and make sense.
- Takes time to understand | Within the first couple of hours of gameplay, I wasn’t instantly hooked and didn’t quite fully understand exactly what was happening. This could be due to not playing/understanding the games prior to Syberia: TWB and how their stories played out, even with the ‘previously’ option located in the main menu which enlightens those who haven’t played the previous games as to what has already happened in the life of Kate Walker. It took me some time to become engrossed and gripped but, more importantly, it did happen. Just had to have some perseverance and patience.
- Visual quality | Yes, I have already mentioned there is some lovely scenery to appreciate but the overall quality of visuals was not up to standard. Whether it was certain people, the environment, documents, or common details that suffered, it showed an obvious lack of attention to detail. For example, there was a body where the face looked incredibly blurred, some of the interactable items that could be picked up were poor quality and illegible, and even the puzzles were rough around the edges. The narrative and sound may be immaculate however noticeable amounts of the visuals were certainly left out and did not get the memo or attention they deserved.
What we Disliked
- Clunky movement | My only real complaint within Syberia: TWB was the incapability and rough movement I encountered. I seemed to get stuck on the most irrelevant things and, if there is one thing I really detest, it’s getting caught on the environment in any way shape or form. The running also wasn’t the smoothest but this wasn’t the main issue. You could only run in certain areas and this was somewhat frustrating as your character always walks pretty slow; too slow for my liking. The character turning circle isn’t the best either which is far from ideal. This is probably just a personal peeve of mine but I felt I needed to mention it.
- Poor camera angles | When walking through areas, I did come across a few bad camera angles which I struggled to navigate with and, as there was no easy way to alter these, I ended up exiting and re-entering places to reset my character on multiple occasions. There were also some questionable cut scenes that had foliage blocking the main image which was a shame. I wish a re-centre option was available that could be used to reset your camera to behind your character as a base to counter the issues made by obstructive angles.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 12-14 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 18-20 Hours
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!