This title was reviewed on Xbox One, but is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC.
At the risk of getting too heavy, we’re at an ecological tipping point here on Earth right now. With more and more nations declaring a ‘climate emergency’, the mind wanders to what might be our future. Deponia might just be an incredibly timely (if we gloss over the fact that the original release was in 2012) tale of the result of centuries of dumping trash over the surface of the planet, and the challenges faced by those less privileged that have been left behind in squalor.
Deponia’s visuals are bright and detailed – somewhat surprising for a game centred on a planet full of rubbish! The characters and backgrounds retain the pen and ink charm of Lucasarts point-and-clicks of past, but with modern sharpness. Playing on a 4K TV or older 720p monitor, Deponia is definitely a handsome looking title. Animations are suitably over the top and daft, too; everything about the visuals compliments the humorous story and sound perfectly.
If I were to nit-pick, it would be that the polish given to the rest of the graphics doesn’t extend to the rest of the presentation.
Rufus, the protagonist, is a down on his luck inhabitant of the titular planet Deponia. Following in his father’s footsteps, he’s keen to leave the dilapidated surroundings and head to Elysium, a mysterious land of promise. It becomes apparent early on that this dream of his has been attempted half-arsed many times, to the frustration of his friends. The plot follows his latest attempt to ascend, subsequent encounter with a mysterious amnesiac (classic), and sinister dealings by the Organon – the ruling military force, who are responsible for creating the surface into the garbage heap. The characters are zany, wacky, and unique, and really give the rather serious eco-story a nice comedic edge.
However, this title is rather short. It almost feels like a ‘chapter’ in the style of Telltale Games due to the very minimal closure and promotion of a wider story arc/epic. This sort of approach doesn’t really benefit budget-tight gamers, or those looking for a nicely enclosed tale.
Let’s get this out of the way early – Deponia doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel. Daedelic Entertainment’s core is producing point-and-click adventure games.
Yet, this is a compliment. With the puzzles becoming gradually more fiendish, it’s nice to have the tools to your success so plainly laid out. Some of the more abstract puzzles may frustrate, but one of the nice additions that Deponia has is the ability to request a hint at any time; I have a tendency to get frustrated and stuck in titles of this genre, so it makes things much more palatable!
Being so focused on the story, it’s my personal opinion that these sort of adventure games actually benefit more from decent voice acting and audio than the graphical aspects. Machinarium had some divisive comments around the ‘gobbledygook’ language used throughout, but Deponia has full voice acting. The performances are not bad too, ranging from the haughty Elysian “pixie” Goal, to the laconic praise from your best friend Wenzel.
Sound effects and music are equally as impressive. The clunks and crashes of the haphazard machinery in Kuvaq are perfect with the mechanical beats of the soundtrack, and the heroic themes that play during your (usually doomed) daring deeds are well matched too. There’s clearly a lot of love put into the audio of this game, and it definitely reinforces my earlier opinion!
If you’ve ever even remotely had a good time playing point-and-click adventure games, you can’t go wrong with Deponia. It’s a short ride, but a rollercoaster of good humour, varied puzzles, and great visual world building. It may not be a new game to those of the PC Master Race™, but it makes me really happy that pretty much everyone can pick up this wonderfully crafted little tale. Roll on the sequels (which are due later this year on console!).