Syberia II Game Review: Pretty and Ambitious but Ultimately Shallow
This is a promising adventure title with lovely settings and visuals that have held up surprisingly well. The game has some rather charming and creative narrative touches and appealing musical moments. Visually, it evokes an impressive steampunk-style environment; in combination, these elements make for a quite immersive experience.
However, at its core, the Syberia series is sadly limited; the puzzles are humdrum and unsatisfying, and there is little motivation due to a lacklustre, slow-moving plot. The protagonist, Kate, is never fully fleshed out; one of her main companions spends much of the game unconscious (her remaining ally is a largely underused automaton), while her relationships with others are primarily revealed through phone calls with disembodied (and rather stilted) voices and weak dialogue. Meanwhile, the villains of the tale are almost comical in how unthreatening they are.
This is a shame, as the game is often beautiful (although I always found the design of Kate's facial features a little uncanny valley for my tastes) and has some unique concepts and poignant moments. The best possible reading is that the Syberia series sets out to do something different in that it is ultimately 'about a woman finding herself'. And, while this is certainly a welcome and sadly unusual contribution, I'd argue that the underdeveloped characters, stiff dialogue and slow pacing mean that Syberia II doesn't do this particularly well (for stronger examples, see the Life is Strange and Blackwell series).
Verdict: I seem to be an outlier on this one, but I found this a pretty but ultimately shallow experience. It pains me to say, but, overall, the plot and characters of Syberia II are about as interesting as the bleak and barren environment in which the game is set.