Syberia was acclaimed by critics for its graphic design and intelligent script. The game contains elements of art nouveau and clockpunk fiction. Most devices and tools within the game's world are powered by springs and wind-up gears.
Syberia is a third-person, mouse-driven, semi-realistic/semi-surrealistic adventure game in which the player must solve various puzzles and follow certain procedures in order for the story line to proceed. As a pure graphical adventure game, Syberia follows the guidelines introduced by Broken Sword.
In the game, the player controls the actions of American lawyer Kate Walker (voiced by Sharon Mann), who is sent to a remote French village in order to finalize the take-over of a toy factory. Once at the village, Kate learns that the woman who owned the factory has just died, and she has a brother who must be contacted in order for the takeover to proceed. Her mission takes her across Central and Eastern Europe, which gradually leads her to question her own life. The titular Syberia is a mythical island on which mammoths are said to live (inspiration could be Wrangel Island in Siberia, the last place on earth where mammoths survived).
The game starts with Kate arriving in the fictional French village of Valadilène and witnessing the funeral of Anna Voralberg, the owner of a family-owned spring-automaton toy factory. When Kate visits the village notary to finalize the deal, the notary tells her that just before Anna's death, the old lady revealed that her brother is not dead and buried, but alive somewhere in the North-East. Now that his sister is dead, Hans Voralberg becomes the new owner of the factory, which cannot be sold without his approval. Kate has no choice: If she wants the takeover to succeed, she will have to find Hans. Kate's research reveals that Hans was injured in his attempt to retrieve a prehistoric doll of a man riding a mammoth. It stunted his development, leaving him mentally handicapped, and Hans' sole goal became to find mammoths to ride as the doll depicts.