Syberia on XBox - First Impressions

My wife and I started playing Syberia last night (the XBox version). I expect it to get better, but my first impressions are a little disappointing.

  1. The writing seems somehow sub-standard. I’m not sure yet why. Maybe it’s the word choice, and the way the NPC’s are expressing things (especially in written-letter form). Was it translated from French, maybe?

  2. This is made worse by wooden voice-acting. The last three games we played were Indigo Prophecy, The Longest Journey, and Dreamfall (TLJ 2). Maybe my expectations for voice-acting are just too high now. Thinking back to prior games – Monkey Island 4, Still Life, Broken Sword 3 – the actors in Syberia just don’t seem very enthusastic.

  3. I know this first part is setting up the story and mood, but it seems kind of… still and boring. I don’t expect big action right away, but there are times when it’d be nice if it was all more immersive… okay, example. When I first called “my boss” on Kate’s cell phone, she was just standing in the hotel, with nothing happening around her. She didn’t go sit down or anything. When it rang later – two calls, actually – she was just walking down the street. She stops (in the middle of the street), with absolutely nothing happening around her, and has a conversation. I’m just looking at a screen with her standing still. If this was Dreamfall, there would be things going on in the background, she’d sit or lean, she’d at least move and give some sign of life.

  4. I have to think the PC version was better in the graphics department, too. It’s not that the graphics are bad – they’re just… lifeless, somehow. And the XBox resolution just doesn’t seem good enough to handle the tiny text on the faxes Kate receives. I had to walk over to the TV – and it’s a fairly new 32" one – to try to make out the blurry gibberish on the pages.

So far, we met with the Notary and have entered the gate to the factory. We’re just getting started. These disappointments aren’t enough to deter us, but I hope it gets better.

We got around to playing an hour or two more last night, and the experience was better. I didn’t find the voice acting so lame, and I found that the left and right triggers will zoom in and out of viewing documents and letters, which makes it far easier to read. Some new locations we found were really pretty, making me appreciate the graphics more then before. It looks like it’ll be a worthwhile game after all.