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Low-Spoiler Guide to Syberia

Welcome to my Syberia hints page. (-: If you're new to this series of low-spoiler computer game walkthroughs, the idea behind them is to point gamers towards things they might not have tried in each game rather than giving step-by-step instructions or divulging puzzle solutions. There's not much point in playing an adventure game if you know the puzzle solutions in advance, after all, and there's no point at all in playing a mystery game if you've already had the plot spoiled for you.

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So these pages are as close to spoiler-free as possible while still providing some valuable Syberia hints and tips. If you are looking for the solution to a particular puzzle, I recommend the UHS site--due to the way their pages are set up you can only see one hint at a time, so you can get the answer to one pesky puzzle without ruining all the others for yourself. Here's the UHS page for Syberia, if that interests you. My site, meanwhile, focuses on exactly the things UHS and other traditional walkthroughs don't: the non-critical parts of the game, little detours you can take, extra details you might miss if you did only what was strictly necessary to complete the game. If you want even fewer spoilers--you're considering whether or not to buy the game, for example--please try my Syberia Review page to find all the pertinant information in one convenient spoiler-free package.

Now, on with the game!

Syberia Hints and Tips
Syberia Walkthrough
Syberia Cheats and Links
The Backseat Game Designer: Syberia Critique

Syberia Hints and Tips

Syberia is a recent adventure game put out by the prolific Adventure Game Company. Like their other titles, Syberia gives you a simple 3D point-and-click interface with which to move a pre-assigned character through a sequence of puzzles and a largely linear plot. This offering is a mysterious fantastical epic with a profoundly poignant feel. There are no bugs in this game (at least, none that I found), and no serious gameplay issues. However, there are a number of things you may want to be aware of before beginning to play in order to get maximum enjoyment out of the game. Without spoiling anything:

Time Management: Time does not pass in Syberia. There are occasions on which you will need to wait for another character to contact you or move to a different location, a door to open, and so forth. However, the only way this event will ever occur is if you take an action to trigger it. You could leave your computer running all week, and your cellphone will still never ring until you have completed the previous quest. So first of all, don't worry about deadlines (even when one character warns you his lecture may start without you)--it is impossible to miss them. Second of all, if a game event is not occuring, it's your responsibility to scour the map finishing all the old quests and puzzles, even stepping into every unrelated map square, so that things can progress. Five o'clock will not arrive without some unrelated help from you.

Kate's Cellphone: There are four points in the game at which you will need to call somebody on Kate's cellphone, and for those purposes, it is a useful tool. Unfortunately, Kate has two numbers saved in her cellphone's memory which she can never use (they will always be busy, picked up by an answering machine, or a bad connection) and two others which are only useful at certain junctures in the main plot. Never bother trying to call anyone back in New York unless it is directly plot-related; they will frequently call you to pester you about personal subplots going on back home, but you will never have any input into this nor be able to initiate any conversations about it. You do need to listen, though. One of the New York crowd lets a useful plot-related clue slip during conversations with Kate.

Inaccessible Areas: At many points in this game, you will find yourself presented with an exit Kate refuses to take, explaining "No need to go down there!" This is a game flaw, not foreshadowing. You will never need to go "down there." They're dummy exits. If an exit will eventually be accessible, Kate will either declare it locked or try and fail to open it.

Quest Order: You can spend a lot of time wandering around the large locales in whatever order you like, but it's all to no avail as Kate refuses to enter any of the useful areas. Trusting the apparent non-linearity of this game will just waste your time and frustrate you. Do each quest in the order Kate instructs. You're going to have to do it that way eventually anyway--you can't do a task until the previous one's been finished--and wandering around on your own will increase the amount of time spent watching Kate walk and listening to her tell you there's no need to go down anywhere, while providing no extra fun.

Main Character: You control one character, Kate. You will never have any input into Kate's personality, attitudes, or reactions to anything, so if you want to enjoy this game you will need to think of her more as a character in a movie you are watching than as 'your' character. This is unfortunate, as greater identification with Kate would have made the game even more affecting than it already is, and it wouldn't have been too hard to at least let you choose from multiple conversational options during gameplay (as you can in Grim Fandango or role-playing games like Baldur's Gate).

Movement: Movement is terribly slow, and unlike in some graphical adventures, there's no way to shortcut past it. If you have four screens to pass through to get back to an NPC you need to talk to, you're going to have to watch Kate walk (or 'run,' which she also does slowly) across all four of them, every time. If you get stuck, try walking Kate right up to the edge of the screen. Screen exits function inconsistently--most areas are exactly one screen in size, but a few are larger and you have to move to the other side to get them to scroll completely. Your cursor does not change when this happens, so you'll just have to walk to the edge of the screen yourself to see if there's an exit there.

Conversations: Conversations in Syberia can be a real pain. Save before engaging anyone in conversation. The 'escape' key has two functions: skipping past a line of text, and closing the conversation. This means that when an NPC is talking at an interminably slow pace, or is saying something you have heard before, you can't reliably skip it without running the risk of booting the conversation. (At first, I didn't realize this and thought it was the NPCs cutting the conversations off abruptly. If you're finding your conversations keep ending before you're out of topics to inquire about, avoid pressing 'escape.') Topics do not disappear from your list once you have heard them before--if the NPC has nothing new to say about a topic, clicking on it will just give you the exact same dialogue all over again. Since NPCs sometimes have new comments to make about old topics as the game progresses, you'll just have to grit your teeth and listen to long and difficult-to-skip replays of stuff you've already heard at several points in the game. Luckily they've fixed this problem in Syberia II. For now, in my walkthrough, I make a list of any time an NPC has more to say on a previously exhausted subject. Sometimes the music will get pointlessly loud in the middle of the other person's speech (there is a captioning option on the Options page and I definitely encourage everyone to use it for this reason.) Also note that talking about 'Kate' occasionally introduces her, but often results in her talking about herself instead. This is interesting and not to be missed.

Savegames: Syberia does not let you name your savegames, so if you're used to saving them every five or ten minutes, you could easily wind up confusing yourself. Since there is no way to die or lose this game, no substantial bugs, and only one makeable mistake, you don't actually need to worry about saving your game very often--once upon arrival to each new location and once before talking to each NPC should do you fine.

Problem Spots: There are no realtime sequences in Syberia, and only one potential dead end. In Aralbad, when you are searching behind the concierge's desk, you MUST take the brochure with you. If you leave it behind, you will not be able to read it again once the concierge returns to his desk, and you will need the information in it to progress in your game later on.

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