Although sold as a separate game, Syberia 2 is a continuation of the story from the first game and really won't make much sense without knowing what transpired before. It picks up where that game left off and begins with Kate Walker, Oscar the automaton who drives the train, and Hans Voralberg continuing their journey towards the mythical island of Syberia where mammoths are said to exist. Hans is very elderly and his dying wish is to find these prehistoric mammoths - an obsession he has had from an early age. By this time, Kate has forsaken her job, friends, family and boyfriend in order to fulfil his wish.
It's very hard for me to write a completely unbiased review of this game as some of my feelings are based on my own particular journey with gaming. I liked Syberia, however, at the time I played it, point-and-click was pretty much all I knew. I did not own a computer till 2001 and did not start gaming till roughly 2006. My first game was point-and-click and I went on to play a lot of them until I discovered action games. There was no turning back for me after that.
Buying Syberia 2 was more or less the need to scratch an itch. Syberia had left the story unfinished and I always wondered how it might end. However, it was not a bad enough itch to consider going back to that genre until Steam had it on sale and I was just in the mood to purchase it on a whim. So, the thing is, I don't really enjoy this genre any more and to make matters worse, this is just not as good a game as the first one.
Although the graphics and mechanics might be improved in Syberia 2, the story is pretty shallow. It seems like the meaningful content was all used up in the first game. Gone is any real further development of Kate Walker's inner conflict and her off-camera relationships and contact with family and friends is non-existent. These are all in the first game and pretty much abandoned in this one. The story gives a nod to this through showing some cut-scenes of her employer sending a PI to try and find her, but it's very peripheral and inconsequential filler. And even though Kate has caught up with the mysterious and intriguing Hans Voralberg, the driving reason behind her actions, he also has almost no character development and is very wooden.
The wonderful automatons that Kate has been so entranced with throughout are mostly gone as their creator Hans has never been where they are going. There are also far fewer side characters to enhance the story. So a lack of emotional engagement and these missing elements that contributed to much of the charm of the first game have combined to reduce Syberia 2 to a pretty average point-and-click game and nothing more than a venue for puzzles.
As to the quality of the puzzles, they are a mixed bag. During one of these, it took thirteen clicks to walk through nothing-happening screens and twelve clicks back through the same nothing happening screens, all to get one little piece of information to progress the game. This pretty well sums up much of the activity. Walking miles with nothing happening and some puzzles that don't make any sense or are nothing more than click-fests with hotspots that can be very hard to find. There is often a total lack of hints on what to do next and to be honest, much of the way I feel has to do with the mechanics of retracing tedious steps to see if you might have missed something.
The antagonists in the game are two brothers who have the silly idea of stealing the train to hunt for mammoth ivory and basically only lend themselves to providing nonsensical obstacles. One is a bully and the other is an idiot.
The real question about Syberia 2 is how does it fair within its genre and that is something I really can't quite answer as I've not been playing very many of these for a few years. However, fans of adventure games and of this series seem to like it and it receives good ratings. For me, it just cements all the things that I don't like about the genre. However, there is no denying that it's a very pretty game and that point-and-click adventure games have made somewhat of a comeback in popularity.