Syberia places you in the role of Kate Walker, a New York lawyer sent to Europe to finalize a corporate buyout. The target acquisition is a family-owned automaton factory in a small village in the French Alps. All that you need to do to complete the deal is to get the factory owner's signature authorizing the purchase. When you arrive in the village of Valadilène, you witness a strange and somber funeral procession moving through town. Unfortunately, the departed soul is the very person who's signature you were sent to retrieve. This launches you on a quest to find the last heir to the factory, a man who left years ago and left little clue behind as to where he went.
The locales and environments that you will travel to and through on your adventure appear almost normal, but lie just this side of the surreal. They are at once familiar and strangely out of place. Adding to this feeling that you are walking through a waking dream is the way that Kate takes all of the strange characters and elements in stride, going with the flow as the story carries her along - behavior that you certainly would not expect from a New York lawyer.
This slightly-out-of-place feeling generated by the game's story can also be used to describe Syberia itself. In an age of 3D graphics and violent games, it is a throwback to the golden age of computer gaming when the adventure game was king. If you played the adventure games of ten years ago, you'll find yourself in familiar territory and will be able to play the game without ever looking at its manual.
All of the familiar elements of adventure games are in Syberia. You'll need to collect objects found in the various game locations and use these to solve puzzles or unlock new areas to explore. You'll also need to converse with people to get information and clues that will help you to advance the storyline. This means that the issues that have traditionally been seen as problems with adventure games are present in Syberia as well. Entering a new location always results in a mouse hunt for interactive objects or items to be collected. Puzzles are not always logical and must sometimes be solved by attempting to use each item in your inventory in turn until the right combination is found. Parts of the game will also make you feel like a gofer, as you trudge across screens to deliver an item to somebody or to act as the intermediary between characters.
So what does this all mean to you? If you never liked adventure games, Syberia won't do much to change your mind about them. However, if you do enjoy these types of games, you should definitely take a close look at Syberia, as quality games in this genre are few and far between these days.