Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chaos on Deponia (Review)

Chaos on Deponia cover art.
Daedalic’s first Deponia game managed to provide a perfectly old-school point-and-click adventure experience while feeling completely fresh. So, Chaos on Deponia, the second part of the trilogy, coming out just a few months after the first game, is definitely great news. Keep in mind that the game picks up directly after the ending of the first, so if you still haven’t played it, you can expect heavy spoilers.
At the end of Deponia we saw Goal finally regaining her consciousness and realizing that her fiancรฉ Cletus, who for some still unexplained reason is a dead ringer for Rufus, has been actually scheming to never reveal to the Elysians that Deponia is in fact inhabited, which would lead to the planet being eventually blown up. Through some surprisingly clever thinking, Rufus managed to restore Goal’s memory implant, sending her back fully aware of Cletus’ plans, in order to reveal the truth and hopefully save Deponia and all its residents from certain annihilation.

Chaos on Deponia begins with Goal and Cletus returning to Elysium, and everything seems to be going just according to plan. Of course, since you can’t really begin a game with a happy ending, Rufus manages to work his magic and complicate things yet again. Through another one of his brilliant ideas, reminiscent to the beginning of the first game, things go awfully wrong and Goal ends up falling back to Deponia with no means of returning to Elysium. This time around our characters know that leaving Deponia is not just a matter of fulfilling Rufus’ dreams, but rather of saving the planet from destruction. As the clock keeps pressuring them, Rufus, Goal and the rest of their unusual  allies, must find a way of making things right.

The first thing one notices playing Chaos on Deponia – apart from the excellent hand-drawn graphics - is that the title takes everything that the first game did well and improves it. Since Goal and Rufus now end up on a different part of the planet, we get to visit a great number of new locations. What’s even better is that the game’s navigation system has been noticeably improved.  Not that the first title had any particular problems in this area, but a friendlier navigation map and overall ease of moving around are certainly a welcome addition.

In general, the second part of the Deponia trilogy seems not only better but also somewhat richer. The gorgeous hand-drawn graphics are yet again one of the title’s best aspects. Also, the whimsical characters we meet in Deponia’s strange world, both new and old, are brilliantly designed. Thanks to the clever writing, the quirky humor and the excellent voice acting, interacting with other characters is great fun and not once does it feel like it drags along. Even though there are quite a few conversations taking place during the game, they on no account get boring. We also get to see some character development, especially when it comes to Rufus, who has admittedly come a long way since we first met him, considering the circumstances of course. Additionally, it’s good to see more of Goal and explore her personality and backstory, since she is a really delightful character who had unfortunately remained unconscious for the greater part of the first game.

The title’s gameplay follows the classic point-and-click style as Chaos on Deponia uses the exact same mechanisms as the first game. Rufus is once again called to use his ingenuity in order to solve all sorts of puzzles, mainly by using and combining inventory items. If you happen to be one of those unlucky people who got to experience the vanishing object bug of the first game, which caused several items to become invisible while in your inventory, you’ll be happy to know that this issue has apparently been fixed.

The game’s puzzles continue to be as crazy and absurd, but also equally hilarious. While the world of Deponia doesn’t exactly function on logic, paying attention to the environment, and more importantly to the dialogues and interactions that Rufus has with other characters, will give you a good clue of what you are supposed to do. Furthermore, the classic environment puzzles make a return, but if you feel like they are too frustrating you can always skip them and get along with the story. What’s more, is that Rufus now seems to be a bit more supportive, dropping several comments and leaving hints, which prove to be quite helpful if you are ever stuck.

Daedalic Entertainment has done great work with Chaos on Deponia, making a game that is everything a sequel should be. They took what was good and enjoyable about the first title and improved it, adding more characters, clever dialogues and locations to visit. Additionally, they have fixed the issues of the first game and also made a few improvements to the gameplay. Even though Chaos on Deponia was released just a few months after Deponia it by no means feels rushed. On the contrary the game seems better on all levels. If you enjoyed the humor and amusing storyline of the first, you’ll surely love the sequel, especially as it sets up the ground for the third and final installment of the Deponia trilogy.

Overall: 83/100

Originally written for New Game Network

Chaos on Deponia (Review)
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