System: PC, PS4, Switch | Released: Aug 2012
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment | Reviewed On: PC (Steam)
You're not getting rid of me that easily. I am like herpes. A cool version of herpes. — Rufus
Enter Rufus; one of the funniest protagonists ever to be played on a Point & Click adventure game, and what an absolute joy to bear witness to his escapades in this first installment of Deponia by Daedalic Entertainment.
The game, released in English in August of 2012, sees you take on Rufus's role as he accidentally embroils himself in the politics of the floating city Elysium when he tries to leave the junk planet Deponia and start his new, unsanctioned life there. Originally a large population of humans, Deponia has since become the junkyard for Elysium's ascended supremes to dump their crap and has forced the remaining populace to form settlements in the excrement of the ameliorated. Rufus is from one such settlement.
In the first few steps of the game, Daedalic sees you involved in one of Rufus's plans at gaining access to Elysium in the most comedic of ways. An almost successful but ultimately failed attempt leads you back down on Deponia, but with one complication; Rufus's clumsy approach to anything and everything, has led to an Elysian to fall to the surface of Deponia with him; a girl; Goal.
This is just the first of many hilarious antics from our loveable rogue Rufus. The sheer brilliance of some of the ways this quirky story plays out is astounding and the complexity of some of the surreal puzzles is commendable. We love a good challenge, and this game certainly delivers on that front.
Like any classic Point & Click game, the gameplay mechanics are fairly standard in the sense that you manipulate or collect objects, combine them in some cases, in order to solve puzzles embedded in the environment, and progress through the story. What I loved about Deponia is that the interfacing is simplistic and runs with the same style of art seen everywhere else. A typical multipurpose cursor is utilized which shows you what actions you can take with objects when hovering over them and a very appealing scroll-down (mouse wheel) inventory accompanies this for speedy entry into your coat pockets - no need to drag the cursor to the edges of the screen.
The puzzles range from easy to rock bloody solid, and it doesn't help that logic isn't always your friend in this game. Sometimes the illogical modus operandi is the approach you should take to solve some of these whacky brain twisters - and believe me, it does twist your grey matter, right round the bend in some cases. I found myself befuddled at more points in this game than any other Point & Click I've played in the last ten years, and that's purely because the format or construction of the puzzles is flipping stupid, in the funniest and best possible sense of the word. I loved them.
A distinct positive about Deponia and its creators is how well thought out puzzle aspects appear to be. A considerable amount of thought has gone into the items that are usable in said puzzles and how they are constructed together is both intelligent and bat-shit crazy. For example, an item that is attainable in one area will be essential to the solution of a puzzle further into the story, but don't worry the story can't progress past the point of accessibility to that area unless you have attained the item and solved the puzzle.
A discussion point for the puzzling aspect of Deponia would be the ability to skip certain puzzles if you cannot solve them after a number of attempts. Now I know this caters for the non-warriors of the Point & Click world and aids fluidity of progression, but as a personal preference, I don't want it as an option / an easy way out. I want the glory of solving a puzzle after a period of time, there's nothing better than this contextual victory. This is neither here nor there, just an observation.
Despite being classic Point & Click, the game isn't without its unique quirks. Before even starting the game, you are met with a comedy rendition-styled tutorial in which Wenzel (a character in the game) is teaching Rufus how to play the game. You can also change all dialogue to the local dialect 'Drogglejug' upon completion of the first playthrough - serving no other purpose than to be awkward and funny (I can't imagine it being used much).
The environments you find yourself in are crazily well-drawn and I can only imagine that the artist(s) either had a nightmare or loved every minute, whilst creating them. As you can guess, everything is junk and aside from the concept being interesting in itself, the result was a set of whimsical scenes that are pleasing to the eye. The avatars are in the same style and fit well into the world albeit slightly noticeable that they sit on top of it, but this can be ignored as they're blended quite well, or rather, the seams are hidden through the vibrance of the art.
Animations in-game are equally as noticeably superimposed which is understandable with such original foundation artwork being used as opposed to digitally created environments. Having said this, more often than not in Point & Click, this is the case. The cutscenes are few and far between which is common for this style of game and I should say that the cutscenes are short but do their job adequately.
The music is a complete mixed bag if ever I heard one, ranging from orchestrally regal pieces to tracks made with what appears to be junk sounds and tracks from the HUZZAH! series featuring ultimately comedic lyrics to tell pieces of the story and mark the end of parts of the game. Whilst being mildly appealing, the OST generally becomes unnoticeable and unremarkable in the game but suits the story playthrough quite aptly. The junk-simulated sounds arranged in the musical form are somewhat pleasing as well.
Daedalic's exceptional skill in creating extremely diverse characters has once again been displayed in their media. Deponia hosts a full set of distinctive personalities that are profusely gratifying, and it's by virtue of casting amazing voice actors for the English version. Rufus, to name but one and in particular, is near-on perfect for his role and the actor handles the humourous anecdotes with natural ease.
A slight negative to take away from Deponia is its story pace and is entirely dependant on the cognitive skill of the player. Being able to think outside-the-box and as a complete loon plays a big part in being able to carry the story through fluidly and it will more than likely be the case that the story is glacial in momentum.
Other than that, this game is a breath of fresh air from the norm and is a comedic take on the standard deviation of a SciFi story exploited heavily within the genre. Yet again another game to provide a hiatus from intense back-to-back gaming that will have you in tears at certain points (especially whilst drinking alcohol - not that I'm inebriated often...honest!).