Imagine a world made of trash. There’s garbage as far as the eye can see. A world where hills are merely mounds of junk. But high above the horizon, floating in the sky, is another world where everything is pristine and everyone is happy. That is Elysium. Sadly, you’re stuck on this trash heap called Deponia with nothing but your wits to help you escape. That’s the predicament we find Rufus in at the start of Deponia. Crazy antics ensue as Rufus falls in love with an unconscious girl on his way off the planet.
Deponia is a humorous point-and-click adventure with cartoon-style graphics. While fun and genuinely funny, Deponia is also held back by how ardently it holds to the format of point-and-click adventure games of old.
Deponia’s greatest strength and greatest flaw lie in the nature of it being a point-and-click game. Like virtually all point-and-click games, Deponia gives you an inventory that you will fill with the most random items imaginable. The predicaments you come across will require everything from socks to glowing cotton candy to some nasty looking espresso. Also, like so many games in the genre, you will be tasked with combining certain items in order to create new ones (or at least give old items new functions).
Intermixed with the traditional item gathering and combing there are also several logic puzzles interspersed. The first one requires you to move a target reticule across a grid to a specific spot. The catch is that the reticule can only move two spots forward and one spot diagonally, similarly to the way a Knight moves in chess. These puzzles are rare and skippable, but they do add a nice change of pace. One of them in particular, a puzzle involving pigeons and Deponia’s magnetic field (I told you there were crazy antics ensuing) was especially difficult. It was not difficult for the right reasons, but merely because I had no idea what I was trying to accomplish and there’s no notification when you get the puzzle correct.
This leads me to my biggest issue with the game: there’s almost no communication of what your next goal is. I often found myself progressing almost by accident because I didn’t know what I was actually trying to do. Thankfully, I’m no stranger to the point-and-click genre. I know that when you’re in doubt, click on everything in sight. If that doesn’t work, try to combine every single item in your inventory with every other item both in your inventory and outside it. While I understand that adventure games have always been this way, it was sometimes frustrating not knowing what to do or where to go. It would have been nice if there were some sort of objective list that gave even a vague sense of direction or, in the case of the pigeons, if Rufus said something that suggested what you were trying to accomplish in the puzzle.
The graphics of Deponia have a sharp cartoon style and the design of the world is superb. Being that the world is made of trash, Deponia has a western in space feel to it and being the Firefly fan that I am, I enjoyed that look immensely (As you can tell by the large amount of screenshots I’ve included in this review). If there’s anywhere that the visuals are subpar in, it is in the animation. Characters often move faster or slower than the movement of their feet would otherwise indicate. They also shrink or grow unnaturally when going into the background or coming from it respectively. Also, the lip-syncing is off, rarely matching what is being said. None of these issues necessarily took away from my enjoyment of the game, but they were very noticeable and annoying.
Deponia is definitely a fun game but only if you think point-and-click adventure games are fun. It does nothing to revolutionize the genre but tells an interesting tale in an interesting world. My favorite part of the game would actually be its writing. I honestly laughed several times throughout the course of the game and was a little shocked with how they ended it. It has a refreshing end that does not tie things up too neatly but is still satisfying.
Deponia is an adventure game for people who like adventure games. It’s not going to convert any admirers out of detractors but it is a solid game that any fan of the genre will most likely enjoy. It has a unique world with an entertaining plot, great visuals and solid gameplay that is only held back by some old game design. Here’s hoping that the good folks at Daedalic take a few more chances with Deponia 2 because it’s definitely a place worth a return visit.