Point-and-click adventure games are enjoying a rennaissance lately, led by Telltale’s episodic series (like The Walking Dead). But we’ve seen some wonderful games released in the genre from other studios lately, like The Book of Unwritten Tales and Resonance. Daedalic Entertainment’s Deponia makes another great case that the genre should be getting more well-deserved attention.
In Deponia, you will follow in the footsteps of Rufus, a lazy, self-centered, egotistical jerk of a dreamer. He spends his days thinking of ways to escape from Deponia, the junk world he’s lived on his entire life. Life there is rough, with most scraping together a living via trash salvage and water prospecting, though Rufus does his best to avoid any real work. He prefers to take advantage of his former girlfriend and his best (possibly only) friend while putting all his efforts toward reaching Elysium, a fabled land of milk and honey where he’ll never have to work (or at least be told to work) again.
The opening of the game has you look for and create the components necessary for his latest plan to get away. And, while it works about as well as you should expect, the enjoyment you’ll get out of the ending cutscene is great. As with most point-and-click games, the gameplay is all about talking to people, finding and clicking on objects in the game and inventory management. You can also combine items in your inventory to make more complex, and necessary, items, though it isn’t always apparent without trial and error what items can be combined.
The second act of the game, just after your escape attempt fails, stands out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of the gameplay. The pacing slows down and the focus shifts from the writing and humor to needlessly complex inventory puzzles that you’ll most likely need a walkthrough to figure out. Thankfully, the humor is still there, and as soon as you finish that section of the game, the focus returns to the narrative and writing and all is right in the world again. The humor never really rises above the level of say, Futurama, but it works within the narrative and presentation and gives it a charm it’d otherwise be missing.
The production values for Deponia are sky-high. All the graphics are sharply detailed, colorful and stylized. The backgrounds are gorgeous and the animations are fluid. The voice acting is very well done, better even than many highly funded games are. The music and sound effects are also great. All in all, this feels like a big-budget game in a small package.
In spite of the staggering in the second act, Deponia is a class act among adventure games. It doesn’t do anything new, but it combines great production, writing and humor with an interesting concept and backdrop to create an adventure game any fan of the genre should pick up.
Pros: Gorgeous graphics, funny, enjoyable story and world
Cons: Second chapter loses focus and is needlessly complex