Final Thoughts 21: Deponia - SnakePlissken722 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Final Thoughts 21: Deponia

Final Thoughts 21

Deponia

 

Note: This is not a review, but merely my musings after having recently completed a game as part of my Rogue's Adventures playthrough of my backlog. Follow @RoguesAdventure to keep up with my playthroughs and check out my live streams at twitch.tv/gorbash722.

 

Developer: Daedalic Entertainment

Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment

Release Date: August 7, 2012

Comedy is difficult, and certain game developers have made a name for themselves by offering quirky, fun, and legitimately funny games (Double Fine and Zeboyd come to mind). I never thought of Daedalic Entertainment as one of those quirky devs, with both previous adventure games I've played of theirs (The Whispered World and The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav) being very emotionally mature and dark stories. But it's easy to see from Deponia's cartoony art style, goofy characters and unique junk-planet setting that Daedalic has crafted a light-hearted and silly adventure game that captures a lot of the pure fun and enjoyment I get from classic point and click adventure games.

Initially Deponia's art style and animation was slightly off-putting; it drifted into the realm of anime, which I've never been a fan of. Overly goofy animations are actually at a minimum, with most of the humor coming from voice acting and writing, both of which are top notch and what I've come to expect from Daedalic's adventures.

Deponia takes place on the ruined, junk-filled planet of the same name - beginning in a town called Kuvaq, home to one very unsatisfied Deponian named Rufus. He's an immature, selfish troublemaker with an ex-girlfriend that's sick of him and a whole town that wouldn't mind if he just disappeared.

Rufus is all too ready to oblige, the very first puzzle tasking you with packing his bags for his latest escape plan. His plan goes hilariously awry as he only just reads the invoice for his screws after he's lit the fuse to his rocket pod. The screws are back ordered! Cue perfect comedic timing of the walls falling apart, the chain wrapping around his leg, and Rufus is unceremoniously rocketed skyward toward an Organon cruiser.

The plot quickly focuses on the mysterious girl he meets on the ship, unfortunately named Goal, and his desires to help her out for his own selfish desire to get to Elysium and leave Deponia behind. I was looking forward to another interesting dual-protagonist adventure as I just had with The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav, but Goal is never fleshed out as more than an object of Rufus' affection, and more importantly his key to Elysium.

I will give credit for at least not going down the tired road of having the two slowly fall for each other over the course of the adventure - mainly as Goal is literally unconscious for about 80% of it. At one point a puzzle tasks Rufus with literally having to move her body from a wheelbarrow to a mine cart using a crane. It's a bummer that her character is completely squandered, but Rufus has funny enough running inner dialogues to carry the whole adventure by himself.

Of course the world is also made up of equally colorful and funny characters; I found the setting to be very Terry Pratchett-esque with the entertaining people you meet - from the black-market scientist with confusing scientific metaphors about love and women to the giant mannish secretary with the growling deep voice, every character I met in Deponia was a lot of fun, and exploring more of the red and brown world proved lots of fun.

It's unfortunate then that the puzzle designs, while varied, were not nearly as intuitive and enjoyable as Daedalic's previous outings. Much of my issue stems from the open-ended nature of the first Act, which took over half my total playtime. While it's interesting exploring the few screens of Kuvaq and talking to its residents, there are a ton of puzzles going on at one time, and it's never explained which are used for the immediate overall puzzle (initially, gathering ingredients to make an espresso to wake Goal) and which are supposed to be saved for later.

I was fine with this approach initially but once I started getting stuck and exhausting every avenue of interaction my frustration grew and I grew tired of wandering around the same few screens. It's a bummer as the pacing improves vastly once you finally get out of town (in another humorous cutscene) and Acts 2 and 3 roll along at a perfect pace without any issues.

I did appreciate some of the puzzle variety. Many standard inventory puzzles and combinations are present, but there's also a few logic puzzles, code deciphering, and an especially intriguing task of flipping switches to turn the maze-like mine cart along the correct path.

I also liked the option of just skipping some of these puzzles, as most are simply trial and error and can quickly get frustrating, but if you can work them out you get a nice achievement for your trouble; it's a great method to incorporate achievements into an adventure game.

The climax leads to an interesting conclusion, even if it does fall into the very obvious trope of the backup item (if there's a backup, the ol' switcheroo will be employed). Rufus remains trapped on Deponia, and it's up to Goal to determine Deponia's fate on Elysium. Daedalic crafted two more sequels - Chaos on Deponia and Goodbye Deponia, and after ending my adventure here I'm definitely interested in playing them just based on story and production values alone.

The art style was bright and fun, the voice acting was fantastic, and the writing was legitimately funny. If the puzzles and pacing improve in the sequels they could easily become one of my favorite adventure gaming series, but taking Deponia's encapsulated adventure as a whole it has to be my least favorite of Daedalic's adventures that I've played - mainly as I really enjoyed the others. Which is to say, Deponia is still a pretty great game and recommended to fans of high quality, narrative-focused adventure games.

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