Sometimes a man stands up
Life and Death on Rails:
The Symbolisms of Syberia
An exploratory essay by Beiddie Rafól
Please keep in mind that this is not a review of the game. It is
instead an exploration of the ideas and recurring themes that Benoit
Sokal presented through the game's story, characters, and situations.
This essay contains major spoilers for the story but not for any of the
puzzles. It is strongly recommended that you play the full game of
Syberia before reading this essay as to best understand and appreciate
it. This essay is nine webpages long and is illustrated with
screenshots from the game.
ate Walker - Hessian hero, sort of.
Kate Walker is a textbook 'yuppie', an ambitious and sophisticated
young lawyer whose intelligence and resourcefulness are employed
primarily to serve her social and professional status. Though nowhere
near presented to us in a way as developed, complex, and nuanced as,
say, the main character who narrates Hermann Hesse's Demian, Kate
represents the fundamental 'Hessian' hero, an individual lacking soul
and intrinsic direction, whose seemingly procedural business trip to
the Swiss Alps turns out to have life altering consequences for her (at
this point we should allow understanding for the primitive ways
computer games present characters and stories at this stage in their
evolution, Benoit Sokal is one of the very few game designers who
actually care to give narrative motivation to the player to continue).
Kate moves in a world of materiality, deadlines, social obligations,
and ultimately, repression and spiritual stagnation, a kind of
precarious teetering between living and non-living.
© 2003 Beiddie Rafól
If you have haven't played Syberia but still want to read this
essay, I strongly suggest at least downloading and playing the game
demo to give you an impression of the atmosphere and nuances. Download