First posted on 19 September 2012. Last updated on 14 January 2014.
Deponia: Limited Edition
Available only as the boxed retail release, the Limited Edition of Deponia includes a special commemorative soundtrack and poster not found in the downloadable digital release.
Deponia is a point-and-click adventure game from Daedalic Entertainment, the German developer whose previous games include The Whispered World, A New Beginning, and Edna & Harvey: The Breakout. Having already established a reputation for slick production values and fun characters, Daedalic Entertainment has reached new heights with Deponia, a sprawling steampunk adventure set in a lightly humorous universe inspired by the likes of Terry Gilliam and Douglas Adams. With a classic animation art style similar to the earlier games of the Broken Sword series, Deponia is a great adventure game sure to please any fans of the genre, particularly those who enjoy great artwork and music.
The game is set in a junk world named Deponia, home to a cheerful but dirty population of scavengers and ne’er-do-wells like Rufus, the player's character. Deponia is the exact opposite of the off world of Elysium, whose citizens lead lives of wealth and privilege. Unfortunately for Deponia, the citizens of Eylsium are so far out of touch that they are unsure if the world of Deponia is even inhabited. They decide to send out a scouting party to check for signs of humans still living there, and if none is found, they plan to destroy it. Sadly, the leaders of the party sent out from Elysium are dishonest to the extreme and plan to wipe out the unsavory planet regardless of the Deponians who will be killed in the process. Happily for Deponia, a beautiful girl from there named Goal strongly objects to the plan and manages to escape down to the planet. However, her cybernetic enhanced memory is damaged, so it is up to the cocky and self-centered Rufus to save Deponia—or at least himself.
The world of Deponia is visually interesting, with lots of ruined machinery, odd creatures, and bizarre gadgets. The production is just as slick as any animated film, much brighter and colorful than is expected from a steampunk themed game. The level of detail is impressive, encouraging the player to take on a slower pace to explore the world in order to fully appreciate its ambiance. The music is also quite eclectic and nice, complementing the mood of the game perfectly. Several of the transitions are accompanied by hilarious songs performed by a lyrically challenged minstrel.
Probably the weakest aspect of the game is the development of the characters, who are very eccentric and seemingly insane. All of them are routinely milked for chuckles, though there is the occasional strain of dark humor. Despite their existence in a giant garbage heap, most of the citizens of Deponia seem content and not envious of their Elysium superiors. Indeed, Rufus seems to be the only person who wants to escape, feeling that he deserves better. It is clear from the story that he does not, though some players may see this differently. As a character, Rufus comes across as a jerk throughout most of the game. This is exemplified, for example, by his ill-treatment of his ex-girlfriend Toni and his lack of any genuine concern for the injured Goal. The other characters in the game are simply too strange or not given enough screen time to develop properly. Goal spends most of the game comatose, eliminating the possibility for any real romance between her and Rufus. Indeed, interacting with the characters in this game often feels like interacting with costumed characters at a theme park.
Despite being developed originally in German and only localized later to English, the game features naturally sounding dialog and a professional cast of voice actors. Since so much of the game's appeal depends on dialog for its narrative, I am glad to see that the actors chosen to voice the characters are spot-on. My only nitpick is the presence of adult language. I do not object to adult language in games, but here it seems out of place and forced. Thankfully, it is rare enough not to be a real distraction.
The puzzles in the game are mostly fetch quests to find items, combine item, and then apply items in the right place and time. There are a few logic and jigsaw puzzles, though, which can be skipped if the player so desires. There is also an option to show all the hotspots on the screen, a very handy feature for the player who wants to avoid any pixel hunting. As well, double-clicking on the arrow icon at the exit instantly leaves a room. Various segments of the game are restricted to a limited number of areas and items, so the player is never overwhelmed with puzzles and possibilities. As a consequence, the game moves at a very nice pace despite its great length. Probably my favorite puzzle in the game involves some cotton candy and liquid phosphorous, which I think is both funny and appropriate for the tone of the game. I also enjoy the mine cart and psychedelic crane sequence.
Overall, I really enjoy Deponia and recommend it highly to any gamer who likes point-and-click adventure games, particularly those who love classic LucasArts adventure games. I hope someday Daedalic Entertainment will produce a worthy sequel to Deponia to explore the game's full potential as a series.