Do you remember old PC point n’ click games? You know the kinds which are based around puzzles where you have to throw all common sense and real world problem solving out and instead latch onto the trial of logic of a mental and probably lonely game designer? Logic not dissimilar to “use this stick to distract the dog that’s guarding the olives you need for your voodoo recipes, but you can’t use the stick you got when you broke the broom in half because you need that to attach magnets to in order to steal the key from the pants of Captain McLoserevil so you can get into his storage locker for the sweatbands you need to choke the parrot and take one of his feathers.” Deponia is a classic example of one of those, and retains much of the old faults and quirky joy that have been trademarks of the genre.
Deponia is a game that is trying to be Monkey Island so bad you can particularly hear the disc straining under the pressure. It’s appropriate that lead hero Rufus is drawn with some mild subtle on his face like he’s trying to push out a Guybrush Threepwood style goatee but just can’t manage it, because the entire game feels like that. The cartoon world, the quirky characters, the dumb arrogant but weirdly capable hero, the strong female character and a love interest who is engaged to (one of) the villains, the fourth wall jokes, they’re all here. It kind of gives Deponia a “fan game” feel, which ironically makes a game that is constantly trying to have a personality end up having no personality whatsoever because it’s so eerily familiar.
Well that’s not entirely fair, Deponia is set in a nicely designed “junkyard world” and has some nice artwork and dialog going for it. It’s quite impressive how many lines of dialog were recorded just for the sake of having quick gags about all the items and stupid item combinations you shouldn’t do. The whole game has an enjoyable, fun if not exactly original vibe to it that carries it along nicely if nothing else. Strangely though, there’s the odd swear word and adult joke dropped here and there, which serve no purpose and just feel out of place. It’s confusing to why they’re even there, the game could have easily got a 7+ rating and could have been marketed to everyone but instead got plastered with a 12+ rating just because they didn’t write out the needless bit of pottymouth.
The story follows Rufus trying to escape from his junkyard home to the city of Elysium (named after the Ancient Greek concept of heaven) and is also driven by a love interest called Goal. Goal is by far the worst part of the story, there’s a lot of jokes going around about characters in fiction falling in love despite not knowing each other at all, Goal is literally asleep for over three quarters of the game and is even depicted as unconscious on the box art just to hit home what a respectable female character she is. Yet, when she awakes she’s happy to dump her fiancé and run off with Rufus for no reason at all, and it’s just weak. The game has a rubbish ending as well, cliffhanger endings in Adventure games are a big no-no, stop it.
The first part of the game is set right in the heart of Deponia, a village populated with a ton of characters, characters that the game proudly slaps right on its box like they’re a main focus of the game. However, halfway through the game all but two of these characters are dropped entirely and never seen or heard from again, not even in the ending. The second half of the game is set outside the village in much more soulless environments with barely any characters at all and definitely seems to slow down somewhat.
The puzzles too tell a story of a game in two halves. An early part of the game involves you wandering around Deponia picking up items that can fill up to five rows of your inventory to gather items for recipes. You know when Adventure games are at their absolute worst because eventually you stop thinking and just start rubbing cheese spread on locks and combining the cobra with the funnel as well as every other possibility and you eventually beat a puzzle just by sheer frustration. However in the second part the game is broken down into smaller areas and the items and puzzles are much more coherent. So, just to sum up the last two paragraphs, Deponia is a game that is quirky and enjoyable with annoying puzzles in the first half but is boring with decent puzzles in the second half, OH DEAR.
This is the kind of game where it can pretty much become impossible to advance if you miss items, and sometimes due to the art style and the small hitbox that objects have to respond to your mouse cursor it is easy to miss the old little thing here and there. People who are less stupid than this particular reviewer will realise you can hold the spacebar to reveal all interactive objects on the screen more than 20 minutes before the end of the game, but that’s not the point. There’s also some mercilessly awful minigames which involve more aimless clicking until it’s solved than actual thought, but thankfully you have to option to skip those. Although it should be pointed out that the fact that the option to skip puzzles in a puzzle game is to its credit probably isn’t a good sign.
Overall Deponia is enjoyable for what it is but is too stuck in the usual logic and flaws of the point n’ click genre to be appealing to anyone who isn’t already familiar with it. It’s just about the right length for what it is, and although it is good it’s not especially good in any way so this is one for the hardcore crowd who are just looking for one more game.
The original Monkey Island games were great; it’s good that everyone is in agreement on this, but they’re also very old and relics of a gaming era long gone. Games like Deponia although enjoyable are reminders for why the genre particularly died out at the turn of the millennium, and aren’t as encouraging as Telltale’s modern revivals of old LucasArts franchises. More puzzle games need to take after successes like Professor Layton and focus on making the puzzles enjoyable to do rather than cryptic and frustrating, because now we have this thing called the “internet” which makes it easy just to look things up when we get annoyed.
And that’s not fun developers…it’s just not.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.