Saturday, May 25, 2013

Deponia [Review]

Deponia is the latest title to come from German developer Daedalic Entertainment, a company who has given us some of the best classic adventure games of the past few years. Following a more or less similar style to the company’s previous titles, Deponia is a solid game with a rather original premise which is executed quite well.

The story is centred on Rufus, a rather self-absorbed and sluggish character that initially does not seem to care much about anything or anyone around him. Rufus’ main goal is to finally make it out of his trash-filled planet, Deponia, once and for all, and reach Elysium, his dream destination but also his only option. The main problem is that no one before has managed such a task, but of course Rufus is set to succeed. Not surprisingly, he fails, and his plans eventually backfire and instead of him escaping, he ends up knocking out a beautiful Elysian girl named Goal, causing her to fall on Deponia, leaving them both still trapped there. Our hero not only finds himself smitten by Goal, but also sees in her his one chance of actually making it out of the planet. Unfortunately for Goal, she does not have much to say about Rufus’ or everyone else’s plans about her since for a great part of the game she remains unconscious.

The story is interesting enough to get the player engaged. The game’s cartoonish style and wit work very well in setting up a light-hearted atmosphere. Rufus and the rest of the characters feel fresh and unique, and the voice actors do an overall excellent job, managing to make the numerous dialogues of the game feel entertaining and not at all dull or dragging. This of course is also due to the great writing and clever humor of the game. On the whole, Deponia is definitely more than an average old-school adventure game. Alas, the only issue with the game’s story is that it follows the current trend of leaving its ending bland in order to set up the way for a sequel. This is partially excused for Deponia, since the game is part of an already announced trilogy, nevertheless, the ending could definitely have been wrapped-up better.

Graphics-wise the game looks remarkable. The cartoon/animated style suits the title quite well and Daedalic’s trademark style is definitely there. Though there isn't a vast range of locations for Rufus to visit, every setting looks impressive to say the least, using a vivid color palette and completely hand-drawn graphics, which manage to look sharp even in high resolutions. Add to that the beautiful animations and it becomes clear that the visual aspect is one of the strongest points of the game. Moreover, the game’s soundtrack, though it is not something to write home about, definitely suits the title quite well and adds to the general mood.

When it comes to gameplay Deponia uses the classic old-school point and click adventure style, using the left and right mouse buttons to interact with objects and other characters. In the very beginning there is a small introduction/tutorial explaining the main controls of the game to the player. There is also an option to open the inventory using the mouse wheel, which is definitely a welcome additionl; even though it may seem like not much, it is really handy when you need to interact with objects. To assist the player in their ‘pixel hunting’ there is also the option to highlight all the hot-spots in an area by hitting the space button. The majority of the game’s puzzles involve finding and combining items. The difficulty and logic of the puzzles vary; the player is required to use their imagination in order to solve some puzzles, and they also need to pay attention to both the environment and things mentioned in the game dialogues in order to get a clue on what they need to do. On the downside, some of the puzzles are completely out-there and don’t seem to make any sense or have a logical basis, even after we have solved them.

The game also features a number of mini-games which mainly involve the fixing or creating of a certain key item. The mini-games and are fun but also a bit challenging so there is an option for the player to completely skip them if they wish. Unfortunately there is one major issue with Deponia that can affect the gameplay significantly if one happens to come across it. A bug causes inventory items to sometimes vanish and also makes the cursor completely invisible when a certain item is selected, leaving the player with the option to blindly try and guess where the cursor/item is on their screen or reload a previous savegame. An online search shows that quite a few people have faced such a bug, which is unfortunate, as it takes away from an otherwise great game experience.

Daedalic has certainly given us a few excellent adventure games in the past and Deponia is unquestionably one of them. The title has a great story with smart and witty humor, pleasantly weird characters and a very unusual love story. The graphics look gorgeous and full of details and the animation manages to look good and run smooth even in high resolutions. One could argue that some of the game’s puzzles could have made more sense but that wouldn’t be much of an issue if the game did not suffer from a couple of annoying bugs which will hopefully be fixed by an upcoming patch. Additionally the ending could have been less rushed and still maintain the anticipation for the sequel, but of course one cannot reach a definite conclusion for that part until the sequel is finally released. In general, Deponia does not disappoint, as in the end it is a good game with only a couple of flaws which prevent it from being excellent.

Overall: 80/100

Originally written for New Game Network

Deponia [Review]
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