After its golden age in the 90s, the point-and-click genre could have easily gone the way of the dodo in the modern games industry. With increasing demand for fast-paced action titles, it seemed like the genre was no longer aligned with players’ expectations. That is, until former LucasArts staff Dan Connors, Kevin Bruner and Troy Molander created Telltale Games in 2004 and managed to almost single-handedly revitalise the entire format.
Of course, Telltale wasn’t the only studio to bring point-and-clicks back from the brink. Double Fine played its part with 2015’s Kickstarted-title Broken Age, and so have Square Enix and Dontnod with Life is Strange. Thanks to those titles, point-and-clicks now encompass a much broader genre that’s synonymous with adventure and story-driven games.
The Syberia franchise is part of this trend and has steadily evolved over the past decade alongside the point-and-click’s renaissance.
“The first instalment of the Syberia saga, released in 2002, was hailed as an international success,” Stéphane Longeard (pictured, top right), CEO of French developer Anuman Interactive, tells MCV.
“The second chapter was also critically acclaimed globally when it was released two years later. Over a decade later, we were still receiving messages from fans all over the world asking us a sequel. After several years of discussions, [creator and artistic director] Benoît Sokal and [Anuman-owned adventure publishing label] Microids have joined forces again to offer players a brand-new Kate Walker adventure.”
"Syberia 3 is poised to be the ideal next step for this new wave of adventure game fans."
Anne-Lou Grosbois-Favreau, PQube
Syberia 3 takes place a few weeks after the end of the second opus, with heroine lawyer-turned-adventurer Kate Walker stuck in the middle of the Siberian steppe in pretty bad shape.
However, this brand-new title didn’t come to life without a few setbacks. Originally announced in 2009, Syberia 3 was due to release on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in 2010, but disappeared from radars until Sokal himself said a year later that work on the title hadn’t even begun. Eventually, a partnership was signed with Anuman Interactive in 2012 with a planned release date in 2015.
“To give you all the details, [the original 2009] announcement was made by the previous company who acquired Microids before Anuman Interactive,” Longeard explains. “At this time, they announced a sequel of Syberia but the project had never started at all. Later in 2009, Anuman Interactive bought Microids but Syberia 3 development started in Q3 2013.
“The game is Microids’ greatest ambition so far and seeing the expectations it created 12 years after the release of Syberia 2, we want to deliver the best game experience possible. That’s why the development took some time.”
Syberia 3 is now releasing on PS4, Xbox One and PC on April 21st, with a Switch version currently pencilled in for Q4 2017.
In French-speaking markets, the name of Benoît Sokal is enough to be a strong selling point for Syberia 3, as he’s not only known for his involvement in the games industry through Microids but he’s also as a best-selling comics author and artist. However, in the UK, Syberia remains a niche series, so bringing new players to this third iteration could prove tricky.
“We work closely with PQube, our distributor in the UK,” Longeard explains. “We appreciate our collaboration and they know the UK market very well.”
PQube’s marketing executive Anne-Lou Grosbois-Favreau (pictured, top far right) continues: “The adventure genre has come back in a big way in recent years. Syberia 3 is poised to be the ideal next step for this new wave of adventure game fans, [as] it brings back the more traditional mechanics of point-and-click gaming from the 90s and early 00s and mixes them with modern technology and 3D environments.”
3D is one of Syberia 3’s biggest evolutions compared to previous entries in the series – and one that proves Anuman understands what players now expect from modern point-and-click titles.
“Syberia 3 is the first in the saga to be entirely developed in 3D,” Longeard says. “It was important to retain the authenticity and graphic style of Benoît Sokal that earned the first two Syberia [games] such praise and success. 3D brings Kate Walker more liberty to move in the different environments and other new gameplay mechanics that were not possible before.”
"We expect to sell 1m units in 2017 and reach 2.5m units in the next three years. Syberia is a long-seller compared to other game genres.”
Stéphane Longeard, Anuman Interactive
Syberia 3 can also be played independently from the first two games: “The story acts as a standalone chapter in the franchise, so new players needn’t feel that they’ve missed out if they didn’t experience the first two titles – though a comprehensive summary of the plot is included in the opening cutscene,” Grosbois-Favreau explains.
“However, here in the UK, the Day One PC edition also includes Syberia 1 and 2, enabling all PC players to play through the full trilogy in its entirety should they choose to.“
Longeard adds: “[There are] some references and Easter eggs from Syberia 1 and 2, but the dialogue and NPCs from Syberia 3 will give players all the background information they need.”
That said, Longeard still took the decision to delay Syberia 3 in October last year in order to make sure the game was completely accessible to players all around the world.
“[We added] new cinematics and background story through optional gameplay,” Longeard says.
“We are aware that fans around the world are eager to embody their favourite heroine again, but we needed additional time to provide them with an adventure that can live up to their expectations. We also added new languages for the voice-over, including Spanish.”
Despite its niche status in the UK, Syberia is still the most popular and successful Microids franchise. With this in mind, Longeard has high expectations for this third iteration of the series.
“The total investment for this game is around €8m (£6.8),” he explains. “We expect to sell 1m units in 2017 and reach 2.5m units on all platforms in the next three years. Syberia is a long-seller compared to other game genres.”
He also hopes that Syberia 3’s unique gameplay features will help it benefit from a quiet April at retail: “Retailers are enthusiastic, either in the UK or in other territories, because they consider Syberia 3 as very unique compared to other adventure and action games.”
Grosbois-Fabreau concludes: “We’re delighted to be able to introduce the series and its mesmerising world to a new generation of gamers across all major platforms – all fans of adventure titles and story-led action epics such as Uncharted and Tomb Raider will fall in love with Kate Walker’s latest outing.”