Genre: Old-school graphical adventure!
Rating: Teen for Mild Language, Use of Alcohol (second only has Mild Language)
A rather odd story, but still an endearing one, as well as beautiful pre-rendered art and suitably epic music surrounds this grand adventure written by Belgian comic author Benoit Sokal, the first installment of which released way back in 2002!
Kate Walker is a lawyer representing a toy company. Not a profession you’d expect as a protagonist for an adventure, but her story is quite amazing; she is sent to the French Alps to secure the takeover bid of a quaint yet amazing toy factory. The factory once produced clockwork implements of all kinds, not just toys. Most of their stock in trade was automatons, known in other fiction as robots, but here the word is a strangely applied racist slur for those who respect the “soul” of these creatures.
That “soul” came about as a result of the automatons’ inventor, Hans Voralberg. A brilliant yet reclusive young man, he suffered an accident in his youth which caused his overbearing, perfectionist (and some might say short-sighted) father to lose all respect for him. His intelligence ironically skyrocketed after the injury (which I will not spoil here), but he remained physically and mentally stunted. This didn’t keep him from working on his creations, which were powered by wind-up mechanisms very similar to clocks.
On his eighteenth birthday, Hans suffered another accident, this one tragically costing his life… or so his father would have the townspeople believe. Your first mission in the game is seeking out the sole remaining owner of the factory, Hans’s sister, Anna. Unfortunately, she too has died, of old age this time. As you talk to the townspeople, you will find what Hans and Anna’s work meant to them, as well as discover a lingering secret, and go on an epic journey with a wonderful train and eccentric automaton conductor…
Gameplay proceeds much like the classic point-and-click adventures of old, which I love dearly. Walk around four major “worlds,” all tragically failed utopias which were nonetheless touched by Hans’ influence (as we’ll find, Hans was quite a traveler in his life): the small, isolated village of Valadilene, home of the grand toy factory and origin of the wind-up train and Oscar, its conductor; the university at Barrockstadt with an automaton bandstand; the Russian space-race-era industrial city (complete with massive improvised pipe organ!) at Komkolzgrad, and the opulent spa at Aralbad. Will Kate find the signature she’s looking for, or will she discover something altogether new and grand which causes her to forget about the mundane and embrace the improbable?
A sequel was also released (and another is also due to be released, next year perhaps) which chronicles Kate’s further adventures with Hans (yes, he’s very much alive after all this time!) and their amazing wind-up train, in their continuing journeys to find Syberia, the ancient land beyond Siberia where Hans believes mammoths to still exist. More strange and wondrous lands and people await your interaction!
A lovely and wonderful series very worthy of your attention! Five stars all around! Pick them up for $10 each on Steam!