Category: Adventure game
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
System Requirements: 2Ghz Dual Core Intel Mac, OS X v10.7 Lion, 2GB RAM, 3GB hard disk space
Review Computer: 3.2Ghz Intel Core i3 iMac, OS X v10.8.2, 4GB RAM, 512MB ATI Radeon HD 5670
Network Feature: No
Processor Compatibility: Intel
Availability: Out now
Deponia is the kind of game my friends and I would’ve obsessed over in the early ’90s. We all would’ve owned it. We would’ve exchanged offered spoilers. We would’ve called 1-900 hint lines (from work, of course) for tips. And actually, we’d talk about it now if it weren’t easier (and more financially viable) to just write a review about it.
Deponia is a point and click adventure game that perhaps takes its visual cues from the Monkey Island series, and its sense of humor as well. You play the game as the cocky, rude, and largely unlikable Rufus, living a miserable existence on the garbage planet of Deponia. High above are the floating cities for the wealthy, to which Rufus aspires, but his schemes to escape his fate simply never come together…
…until a beautiful woman named Goal falls onto the trash heap. Discovering that he looks just like Goal’s husband, Rufus decides to use Goal to access the upper world. Unfortunately for him (but luckily for us), maturity picks this moment to descend upon Rufus, and his plans become complicated by the feelings he slowly starts to develop for Goal.
And, of course, how can you find love in an adventure game without first having to save the world?
The story’s fine, then. It’s easy to identify the guy who lives amongst the junk, dreams of bigger things, and finds those dreams diverted for the love of a woman. And although it starts slowly, it picks up nicely once the game settles into its groove and finds a decent balance between narrative and puzzles.
Early on, though, this is a problem. Rufus is just annoying, not endearing, and the puzzles don’t seem to go anywhere. Clicking around junk looking for something to do feels more like a hidden object game than an adventure game, and it therefore took me a while to care about was going on. It seems the developers worried more about establishing the game’s sense of humor than the story and characters, and that hurt it on the outset…especially considering a lot of the jokes seemed forced and obvious.
That’s not to say Deponia isn’t funny; I laughed out loud numerous times. But the game needed someone to say, “This isn’t as funny as it seemed last night when we weren’t sober.”
There are also two problems with puzzles themselves. First, they’re hard to identify. The settings, although beautifully illustrated, are quite dense and hard to navigate. So, you spend the first part of a new chapter just finding all the places you can go. Then you try to figure out the goal. Then you try to find all the items. Then you combine them. Then you repeat this until you manage to solve a puzzle. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don’t but you should’ve figured it all out anyway, and sometimes you really just didn’t stand a chance.
But that’s what adventure games are. That’s why you play them. The puzzles aren’t rewarding if they’re not difficult, and you get the same satisfaction from stumbling into the solution as you do by actually solving it. Aside from the slow beginning, there was never a point in Deponia when I didn’t want to see what was just ahead, and what fate awaited our heros.
Is that worth $20 to you? Perhaps not for the younger crowd. I’d like to think Deponia would appeal to more than just those of us wistfully recall playing well into the night after inviting over that one girl you liked to help solve puzzles you didn’t really need help with (yes, that actually worked, guys). By the team you reach the end, the story, humor, puzzles and design of Deponia come together for an ultimately satisfying trip to a rather unique world. I’ve played enough point and click adventure games to have expected that. If you haven’t, Deponia is not the best place to start.