Syberia: The World Before PC Review

Syberia: The World Before feels like a side story that is also mandatory.

By Fragnarok, Posted 26 Mar 2022

Syberia: The World Before is a point and click adventure game by Microids Studio. It is the fourth game in the Syberia series, taking place directly after the end of 2017's Syberia 3. Unlike other entries, The World Before is split between two protagonist viewpoints: newcomer Dana Roze and series staple Kate Walker. By jumping between the narrative, players will uncover Dana's past and what it means for the challenges that await Kate.

Syberia: The World Before, PC, Review, Pianist, Female Prisoner, Gameplay, Microids Studio, Kate Walker

In 2004 Kate Walker was imprisoned in a salt mine along with the Taiga. Her only close companion is her cellmate, the Russian activist Katyusha Spiridonova. Though not friends, Kate is also cordial with her correctional officer Simmona, who delivers a letter from Olivia Frost. Inside contains Sarah Walker's musical pendant, a plane ticket to New York, and details about Sarah's passing. Distraught over her mother's death, Kate causes an accidental cave-in leading to an old Brown Shadow stash. Among the treasures includes paintings of one Dana Roze.

Meanwhile, in 1937, Dana Roze was a star pianist in the German town of Vaghen. Behind the scenes, Brown Shadow has been arresting and segregating all minorities; Dana joins their refuge post as a waitress as Brown Shadow raises in power. She begins to build a budding romance with fellow resident Leon, whose next expedition is to locate the strange yeti-like species known as Gorun.

Syberia: The World Before, PC, Review, Pianist, Female Character, Gameplay, Microids Studio, Kate Walker

Syberia: The World Before puts players right in action without much prior lead-in. As the fourth game in a long-running story, Microids Studio likely expects players to be continuing off the heels of Syberia 3. The "Previously" cutscene is an additional option, which splices together direct footage from the old games. But this feels more like a trailer that doesn't give a lot of contexts or clarify who is who.

Gameplay is almost entirely point-and-click adventure puzzles. Half the objective is exploring the environment for interactions and selecting them in the correct order. Kate and Dana can also spin items around to find hidden triggers or learn new pieces of information. In most cases, using items in the incorrect order will result in unique dialogue from the protagonist or those around them. At times this can make half the fun of purposely using the wrong items to get a funny reaction. However, the responses can lead down a false positive where the voice-overs point in the wrong direction.

Syberia: The World Before, PC, Review, Pianist, Female Character, Gameplay, Microids Studio, Kate Walker

The difficulty of puzzles slowly escalates as the game goes on. The first couple only has a few interactions, making the combination relatively easy. But later puzzles may involve dozens of nobs, buttons, or various item use. Syberia: The World Before can also be a bit inconsistent with hints. Some puzzles will give instructions or clues on a device, while others seem like repeated trial and error.

The gameplay is mostly just a means to either bring context or pad out the story. Like past Syberia games, players should mostly be there for the excellent banter and development of Kate Walker. Unfortunately, Dana Roze's inclusion is less spectacular. Her side of the game is more disjointed, jumping all over the place as a means of answering gapping questions that Kate has.

Syberia: The World Before, PC, Review, Pianist, Female Character, Gameplay, Microids Studio, Kate Walker

After all, being over 70 years in the past means Dana's fate has already come to pass. Instead of learning what happened, playing as Dana is more about answering the why and how. This is further tied together by a third character, Leni Renner, a Vaghen survivor. Spurned by Leon, Leni acts as a jealous antagonist to Dana and, later in life, a wise elder to Kate.

It can often feel like Dana's sections are simply filler rather than carefully crafted set pieces. If a scene involves Dana, it likely means that Kate will also wind up visiting there in 2004 and explore the location much more thoroughly. This can result in Dana feeling like a simple sneak preview when her side of the tale happens first or a rehash if her chapters occur after Kate's own.

Syberia: The World Before, PC, Review, Pianist, Female Character, Gameplay, Microids Studio, Kate Walker

On PC, Syberia: The World Before has minor stuttering when the camera quickly changes position. This often happens when switching to an open, comprehensive field view to close conversations. Additionally, all controls require a mouse click, including menus and the HUD. It would have been an excellent quality of life implementation to at least include hotkeys for examining objects or backing out of selections.  

Syberia: The World Before is a significant next step in the franchise's storyline. Longtime fans will find both challenges and joy in this installment. But being this deep into the narrative means that it is no place for newcomers, even diehard point and click adventure fans. Anyone interested in the game should have recently played and loved the other three Syberia games before even considering Syberia: The World Before.

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Microïds, Astragon
Developer(s): Microïds, Koalabs, Microids Studio Paris
Genres: Point And Click
Themes: Adventure, Mystery, Alternate History
Release Date: 2022-03-19

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