Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Syberia and Digital Art Part 2

Arriving at the rustic inn, the polite and understated innkeeper confirms that the funeral parade was indeed for the enigmatic Anna Voralberg. Thus the first complication of the story occurs. In writing this description of the game, I will narrate the events from the perspective of one who has finished the game and is highlighting the crucial points. This approach is necessary for succinctness, as much of playing a game involves exploring the same areas, solving puzzles both minor and major, and speaking to a variety of people, some of whom are granted small parts in the journey. This detail must be left out of the description, which would otherwise become a walkthrough or guide, and be experienced through one’s own playing of the game.

The passing away of Ms. Voralberg complicates Kate’s job, but it is nothing our young lawyer has not dealt with before, and she soon sets off to see the town lawyer and clerk. Valadilene is a snowy, well-kept town with rustic wooden buildings. The town was prosperous in the hey-day of its industry, but the abandoned buildings and rusting automatons speak of a community left behind by change.

The handful of remaining residents go about their lives amidst the decaying beauty, still using the few remaining automatons (such as the elaborate, small figure attached to the door of the clerk’s house, arm outstretched to hold official documents, and binoculars raised for the clerk to read them from inside). The residents are obviously hanging onto their history of automation, but are nonetheless gracious to Kate and quite eager for the business deal to take place, so the town can be economically revitalised and its young people return.

The formal, portly clerk calmly explains that normally in a case where the last remaining estate holder dies, the town would inherit the Voralberg factory, and the process of deciding whether to go ahead with the acquisition could be completed in the town through local community representatives. Unfortunately, a letter left by the deceased Anna Voralberg throws a cog into the mix, as she reveals her brother Hans, thought to have died years ago, is still alive somewhere in the far reaches of Siberia. Without the signature of the last heir, the clerk apologetically informs Kate, the deal cannot legally go through.

Thus, a quick trip to the middle of nowhere to complete a simple, yet immensely profitable, deal becomes more complicated. Kate’s mobile phone acts as a passageway between the surreal world she currently is adventuring in, and her normal, modern life in busy New York. Calls from her boss make it clear she works for a rude, demanding employer. Her personal calls reveal a caring, casual relationship with her feisty, sometimes embarrassing mother; and seemingly good, solid relationships with a best friend and boyfriend. Her relations with these New York connections will be emblematic of Kate’s journey between the ordinary, adult world of Kate the lawyer and the surreal, dream world that awakens the imaginative and idealistic side of Kate.

The Voralberg factory is in decline, and documents make it clear the company is going under, as well as shedding light on the touching sibling friendship between Anna Voralberg and her brother Hans, who suffered brain damage as a result of an accident. It becomes clear that their father shunned Hans after the accident, mourning the loss of the ordinary, adventurous boy who was to take over the family business after Mr. Voralberg’s death. Hans and his sister went exploring in the wilderness near town when they were kids, stumbling upon a prehistoric cave where once lived a prehistoric family. On a high natural shelf sat something interesting, a toy woolly mammoth, made perhaps out of bone and animal fur. Made by a loving father or mother for their children to play with thousands of years ago, and left behind untouched on the rocky shelf- until being discovered by the intrepid kids. It is while trying to acquire this precious item that Hans had his accident, hitting his head on the unyielding rocky floor.

The last thing Hans saw, or wanted; before the accident, was the woolly mammoth figurine. The now brain-damaged Hans huddles away in corners of the factory and his house, wilting under his father’s disapproving stare. The boy develops an obsession with mammoths, drawing them and building automaton miniatures of the long-gone beasts. Since mammoths were the last thing he saw before the accident, they seem to have sparked his imagination and a secret part of his brain that is normally hidden in people (or perhaps silenced, by the mundane nature of ordinary life).  For now the once ordinary boy has developed a genius for designing and building automatons. His father once again is disappointed that his boy would rather build toys than commercial automatons. Hans reaches out to his sister, building beautiful automaton figurines for her, creations that can play music and recreate events. Hans runs away in his teen years, and his father, unable to bear the shame and grief, engages in a conspiracy with the town priest to fake the boy’s death.

It is revealed that Hans constructed an extremely advanced automaton train and conductor, Oscar, to take a very special passenger on a ride to meet the emancipated Hans. That special passenger was to be his sister Anna, and Hans wanted nothing more than for her to join him in his search to find his dream, his fate, whatever it may be.

Look out for the epic, dark fantasy ebooks of Goodreads-rated author T.P. Grish at:

No comments:

Post a Comment