Publishers: Daedalic Entertainment
Developers: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: August 7, 2012 (NA)
Adventure games may no longer be a huge part of mainstream gaming, but names of some genre specific developers are known also outside the circle of devoted fans. One of them is German studio Daedalic Entertainment responsible among others for the beautifully drawn and hugely entertaining A Whispered World, A New Beginning, and The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav. Another cartoony game, Deponia, just joined this honourable group and it’s definitely every bit as good as the rest of Daedalic productions, though it’s not the developer’s flawless victory. Close, but no cigar.
What distinguishes Deponia from abovementioned games is the tone of the story, which is definitely comical. Our protagonist here is a megalomaniac, egocentric and reckless young man called Rufus. He’s an absolute loser constantly without any proper job and incapable of living an ordinary life like his peers and townsfolk. Rufus has only one dream – get the hell out of titular Deponia, which is a planet resembling a big junkyard, and go to Elysium, another realm, reportedly the land of milk and honey. The rumour has it that Rufus’ father was the only person ever who succeeded in performing this feat. The young man, however, doesn’t give up easily and on one occasion he actually achieve his goal… sort of. When a mysterious girl falls from the sky because of Rufus, he decides to be chivalrous and to protect her with his life… wait, wrong fairy tale. Rufus wants to use her and get to Elysium. Yup, that’s more like it.
The ubiquitous humour is one of the most characteristic features of Deponia, along with the unique setting, interesting plot and beautiful graphics. It’s true that some jokes fall rather flat, but it would be impossible to maintain the highest levels of hilarity among so many comical lines. If you’re a fan of Terry Pratchett’s sense of humour presented for instance in Discworld, both books and games, you’ll instantly fall in love with Deponia, also thanks to the plethora of odd characters populating the game. I’ve heard several opinions that people were generally unfavourable towards the main hero, thinking he’s a rather unpleasant and annoying chap, but I have to disagree. I like that Rufus is not a typical and conventional hero, bravely venturing to save the world and whatnot. He’s selfish, obnoxious and doesn’t have any regards whatsoever towards other people. That’s what makes him rather unique sort among other game protagonists. The rest of the cast is also quite remarkable, just to mention she-male secretary Lotti, Rufus’s snarky ex-girlfriend Toni or all-rounder Gizmo, who can be a police officer, firefighter and the doctor depending on the situation.
The only reservation I have towards the plot is that it ends so abruptly, it almost hurts physically. The game finishes in the most interesting moment, clearly paving the way for the sequel. Many possible stories are only briefly mentioned here (like Rufus father) and we must wait until the second part to know more about them. It’s a shame that the plot is not a closed entity and the finale is so disappointing.
The interface fortunately is not disappointing at all. At the very beginning of the game we can decide whether we’d like to open the inventory by clicking the proper button on the screen or rather by scrolling the mouse wheel. The latter method is recommended, since it’s more intuitive and simply works better. Any potential difficulties concerning the interface are explained in the tutorial, which shamelessly tears down the fourth wall and winks to the player all the time. It’s a really nice thing, even though the explanations are hardly needed, since Deponia is very user-friendly. As in most point’n'click games the left mouse button is responsible for taking actions and using objects, whereas the right button is used to examine something further. Space bar highlights the hotspots on the screen. Nice and simple.
Most puzzles are inventory based and involve using previously gathered junk in proper time and place. I must give the developers credit for making the challenges creative and often on the verge of absurdity, but never being totally unthinkable. You must count on the possibility of being stuck for some time though. Apart from “standard” puzzles in Deponia we also encounter more logical conundrums involving assembling some mechanisms or pressing a bunch of buttons in the right order. If you’re not a big fan of such minigames, don’t worry. The game allows you to skip them, which is brilliant and all the lazy people should be giving thumbs up to the developers right now.
Daedalic Entertainment is well known for the beautiful, painted graphics that is used in their games. Deponia is obviously not an exception. The backgrounds are very detailed and even though the characters look more cartoony than realistic, they still are pleasant to look at. That flippant art style actually really suits Deponia. The animation is flawless as well, which is a nice change from Chains of Satinav where that element was executed really poorly. One must also remember about the funny cut-scenes, especially the ones accompanying the songs played between chapters, which comment on the events of the game in a light-hearted manner. The music in general is great, incorporating various clanks and clatters, creating the atmosphere of a junkyard bustling with life. The performance of dubbing actors are Oscar-worthy. The game would lose a lot without the brilliant voice-acting of characters. Sorry for showering the game with praises but it really deserves it.
Deponia is definitely one of the best adventure games that I had the pleasure to play this year. It’s funny, the graphics are eye-candy and puzzles are entertaining. All the ingredients necessary for preparing a great game are here, but to make the dish the best meal ever, we’d like to have something more, namely a dessert in the form of one, closed and entertaining story from the beginning till the satisfactory end. Splitting one story into two parts is not what the gamers want, if I may speak on their behalf.
+Interesting plot with lots of memorable characters
+Great music and voice-acting
-To know the whole story we need to wait till the sequel