Deponia is an independent PC Title available on Steam for a decently low price, a measly twenty US dollars at the time of this review. The game takes place primarily on the planet of Deponia, a planet used as a sort of galactic trash dump for the richer societies. Will this indie title shine like a diamond in the rough, or does it belong in the rubbish bin? Will I trash it, or will I espouse it a game you can’t refuse? I won’t waste any more of your time, let’s get to it.
Deponia is an imported game from indie developer Daedalic that harkens back to the retro days of PC gaming in that it is a point and click adventure game along the same lines as titles such as King’s Quest or Escape from Monkey Island. It features an art style that is entirely unique, featuring hand-drawn 2D graphics and full voice acting in English. The animation is for the fluid and engaging, and the story is a heartwarming and funny love story that at times becomes highly unusual. Unfortunately, this is were things turn south.
Being a point and click adventure title, it has all of the great things we remember of those games. Sadly, it also has everything we hate about those games. The game frequently has you clicking on everything on the screen in hopes of getting some clue of where to go next, or another piece of the overall puzzle. The first Chapter is relatively easy, so as to ease gamers into the style of play that Deponia offers. However, once this chapter is over, it flings you into a complicated mess of non-linear puzzle solving that often leaves you wondering what item you need to collect next.
The puzzles, while needing to be solved in order, are often presented to you all at once, which means you’ll end up collecting quite the inventory of items, and you won’t always know in what order to solve them. I often found myself looking at walkthroughs because I was completely baffled about what to do next, and was given no clear indication from the game itself on what my goal was, or how to achieve it, despite talking to every available NPC.
Movement within in the game is a chore, as your character walks toward each clicked destination as a slow pace. I was often waiting up to two minutes between actions while I waited for the main character to meander his way toward a location. The walking animation is fluid, but the time is takes to move to different locations is entirely unnecessary and only adds to the frustration you feel playing the game as you’re often waiting for the character to move to a location that you later find out you didn’t need to be at anyway.
The translation often has an amateur feel to it, being a German game originally; you can certainly tell that they took the most literal translation of certain phrases. Often, this leaves you wondering if what they said was actually some regional joke that us English speakers don’t get. This is redeemed, however, by the frequently stellar voice acting in the game.
The one redeeming factor of the game lies in its original story. The game often breaks the fourth wall, but does so in a humorous way that feels intentional and funny. The humor seems to be a mixture of Douglas Adams’ writing style, with some Simpsons/Family Guy thrown in for those of us with low brow senses of comedy. The story is a heartwarming love tale that leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling more often than not, and frequently has you doubled over in laughter at the comedy of errors the main character seems to make in his quest to win his true love, taking on an almost sitcom quality.
Overall, the game is great for those of you wanting to relive the days of old point and click adventures, and even throws in some modern features such as full voice acting, occasional short move clips, and fluid animation. However, those of us who have moved on to more modern adventure titles will find themselves frustrated at the archaic control scheme and confusing, all or nothing puzzles that leave you wandering aimlessly about, clicking on everything in sight.
A copy of this game was provided to TheParanoidGamer from the developer for reviewing purposes.