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Review: DeponiaDeponia adventure point and click PC Steam
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
ESRB: N/A (Teen suggested)
Release Date: Out Now
When you think of adventure games, what comes to mind? There's probably the thought of contrived puzzles and loads of pixel hunting. Thankfully, most adventure games in the modern era have evolved to rid themselves of these problems and leave players with a good story. When looking at Daedalic Entertainment's Deponia, it's easy to tell they wanted very much for it to be a streamlined, fantastic title. Although there is a fair amount done to modernize it, there are still some things that hold it back from greatness. So, where does it fall on the scale - better or worse than your average adventure?
The heart of any point-and-click adventure title is the story. In this game, the story focuses around a young man named Rufus. He's spent his life on a trash heap of a planet named Deponia. More than anything he wants to get off it and head to a supposedly majestic and heavenly planet. The only problem is that no one ever makes it off Deponia... Well, no one except Rufus's father who left without him long ago. Will you be able to get Rufus out of his horrific home or is the guy doomed to live out his days on a wasteland?
The setup is fun because it helps set the stage for where you're going to spend your time in the game - Deponia. The planet is a complete mess and it makes for a very lively environment. Each screen is packed with mechanical doodads, trash heaps, and rusty junk. You can tell there was a lot of work put into making sure the art accurately represents what the planet was said to be like. Because everything is just such a mess it also makes sense that you might find various items within the trash. Having so much on screen also often presents the player with many objects to look at although it may be a bit overwhelming at first.
When it comes to the hero of our story though, the game doesn't fare quite so well. Rufus is not a nice guy. He's a self-centered jerk who is completely unlikable. Maybe others will find him funny, but for me, he was pretty detestable and I didn't find myself agreeing with any of his ideas or assertions. It's not a requirement for a piece of fiction to have a likable lead character but it bothered me all the same. What poses a bigger problem is that he really undergoes no change as the story progresses. Typically you expect to see a lead go through trials and come out changed. Rufus changes, but only in the slightest amount. Because of his wholly gross demeanor I was unable to enjoy the game as much, which is quite a shame.
Ignoring the possible Rufus problem then, the thing worth looking at is all the other characters. It's apparent Daedalic understands how to make characters that aren't jerky because they did it well for others in the game. For example, Rufus's ex-girlfriend is a fantastic character who is likable despite her quirks and overbearing nature. Similarly, the short friend of Rufus is an entertaining guy even if he's a smartypants know-it-all. As you come across other characters, they all have charming, strange demeanor. Encountering characters often gives you many possible lines of discussion, even though the majority don't help you solve puzzles. Simply talking to these unusual people is a joy and would have been better if the main character were simply a funnier guy to bounce discussions off of.
Point-and-click games don't just survive by their stories. They also require good puzzling mechanics to keep players going. Deponia provides a mostly sane puzzle-solving experience with only a few hard ones. For the majority of the game you'll find yourself sailing through puzzles. While they are not completely inane, they are puzzles that simply thinking about logically will solve. There is no hint system, but usually there are hints slyly put into item descriptions or conversations. The only problem with this is that sometimes the hints are put in places that aren't directly related to the puzzle at hand. Either way, this method of hint-giving just trains you to pay attention to everything you hear.
It's a good thing that most puzzles are relatively easy to solve because the game is bursting with them. Almost every second has some puzzle in your face no matter how simple it is. A handful of puzzles are harder and more involved and these may pose a challenge to gamers. Even being used to adventure games isn't a surefire way to get through them. There were times when I knew basically what had to be done but couldn't figure out the one point necessary to set things in motion. It's a good thing that these puzzles weren't more common, but it doesn't seem like they follow logic quite as well as the rest in the game.
One problem with the game is that it leaves you hanging. There is probably hope for a sequel but right now this is all we have. After working through puzzle after puzzle and seeing the story build it's natural to want to get some kind of resolution. Instead, all your work is put into the game to leave you with a cliffhanger. It doesn't invalidate the rest of the game or anything, but is kind of annoying after putting so much effort in.
Weighing the various pros and cons, Deponia still ends up as a pretty good title. The humor is pretty nice (minus Rufus's entire character) and the story keeps things interesting. As you venture onward, more is revealed and you start to understand more about the "importance" of the journey. Overall, the game isn't as funny as classics in the genre but is still a good attempt. If nothing else, this is definitely a game with high production values (for a point and click game). As was stated earlier, the backgrounds are excellently designed. Every character has voice acting and a lot to say - they'll even talk more if you unlock the bonus mode. It's easy to see that a lot of time and effort was put into making it a very involved experience.
There are a few glitches that were encountered in the game, although none ruined it. There were times when items in the menu would simply be "invisible". They were in the inventory slots, and could be used just fine, but the slot itself would look blank. The first time this happened to me it was early in the game and I thought I'd lost a necessary item. After searching around a few more times I realized it was there, just not displayed. It's an annoying thing that happened with multiple items so hopefully a patch fixes it soon. Once, the game switched languages on me when attempting to combine an item. This was funnier than it was a bad thing as right after that the language switched back to English. Finally, the last cutscene in the game froze for me so I was unable to view it until after beating the game. None of these problems are game-breaking but they should be fixed to help make the game a nicer experience.
If you're looking for a humorous point-and-click adventure then Deponia will definitely fit the bill. If you want something with puzzles that aren't incredibly difficult then this is also a great choice. If you'd like to see a game with a story that isn't the same as everything else then this is still a game worth looking into. Basically, Deponia is a nice adventure game with only a few unfortunate flaws to keep it out of the classics club.
+ Fantastic environments
+ Humorous writing and lots of it
+ A fairly long adventure filled with puzzles
- Main character fails at being a likable jerk
- Story ends without any resolution
- Inventory glitches will definitely confuse players until they figure it out
Overall Score: 8 (Out of 10)
It might not be the next great adventure game but Deponia is still a solid addition to the genre.
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