Syberia developer Microids confirmed yesterday that Benoît Sokal had passed away while battling a long-term illness.
Sokal was a Belgian comic book artist and video game developer best known for his work on the Syberia series.
He started his career drawing and writing for the magazine À Suivre in 1978. Sokal created the Inspector Canardo series, which featured a depressed anthropomorphic duck detective who smoked and drank heavily.
His first foray into gaming came in the form of Amerzone, a first-person fantasy graphic adventure game. Sokal was unique at the time, as he was one of the first visual designers to oversee the entire development of a video game.
Following on from Amerzone, Sokal headed up the development of Syberia. Released in 2002, Syberia is an adventure game that follows protagonist Kate across Europe and Russia.
The game was a commercial success, selling over 500,000 units worldwide and bagging Sokal an award for Person Of The Year at the Phenix Awards.
Syberia’s success helped secure the series’ future, as Sokal led the team in creating numerous sequels in subsequent years. Up until his death, Sokal was leading the team on the development of Syberia: The World Before.
Syberia: The World Before will continue the story of series protagonist Kate. However, it will also introduce Dana Roze, a new character in a timeline of 1973.
The team Sokal worked with over the years confirmed his death yesterday (May 29): “The entire Microids team share the grief of his family and friends.”
Amerzone, Syberia, Sinking Island marked our adolescence, so we are grieved by Benoit Sokal's death. The 1st Syberia remains one of the highest points in adventure game history, an unforgettable journey in a world of extraordinary imagination and humanity that will live forever. pic.twitter.com/1vNQ7FWHTP
— Adventure's Planet (@APlanetIt) May 29, 2021
— ShivaWalker | art giveaway (@shivawalkerart) May 29, 2021
The Microids team described Sokal as “a true visionary and extremely talented artist”.
“Benoît left an indelible mark on Microids’ history. He worked hard to share his vision with the world,” added the team.