Deponia review
The Good:

Beautiful 2D artwork with some nicely animated moments; eclectic landfill setting makes for unique locations and puzzles; gameplay is creative and generally fair; beefy game length.

The Bad:

First half of the game drags; story could be punchier; dialogues are too long and too static; ending is disappointing.

Our Verdict:

With its 2D cartoon aesthetic, simple point-and-click interface, and challenging puzzles, Deponia is classic old-school adventuring in many ways, making it worth playing even when the storytelling falters.

I’ve played some trashy adventures in my day, but none quite as trashy as Deponia. No, wait, that’s a compliment! At least, it’s a statement of fact, as this game takes place, quite literally, on a trash heap. The landscape is made up of trash. The items you stuff in your pockets are trash. The puzzles… well, actually, those aren’t half bad. It may have some rough edges, but this unflinchingly traditional point-and-click adventure from Daedalic Entertainment has a lot to like—garbage and all.

Deponia’s protagonist is a wanderlust named Rufus, a young man who’s singularly fixated on getting off his junk-filled planet as soon as humanly possible. His only escape option is Elysium, a utopia floating far above. Problem is, no one has ever managed to get there. The game opens with Rufus prepping his latest escape attempt, which involves lighting a parcel of dynamite to shoot a makeshift escape pod into the sky at the very moment an orbiting Elysian vessel flies past. What could go wrong?

Everything, of course, and very quickly. This early attempt ends with Rufus falling back to the surface with a pretty Elysian princess, Goal, in tow. Rufus sees her as his ticket out of here (and also hopes to make her his new girlfriend), but he’s not the only Deponian with his sights set on the pretty damsel in distress. First Rufus must convince the townsfolk to release the unconscious Goal to his custody, a deceptively complicated task riddled with puzzle-solving that ends up taking more than half the game. With this finally achieved, he’s free to tout the still incapacitated princess across the rubbish-strewn countryside to another possible escape route. But when other, questionably trustworthy Elysians enter into the mix, a larger plot begins to show itself—larger than this one game can address, in fact, as Deponia is just the first installment of a planned trilogy.

From the artwork to the people to the humor, everything in Deponia is just a bit off, and for the most part it works. The steampunk cartoon art style depicts a gleefully oddball world made up of the garbage dropped from above. (Fun fact: “deponie” means “landfill” in German.) The 2D hand-drawn aesthetic is more refined than in last year’s Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, but equally colorful and distinctive, featuring a number of idiosyncratic supporting characters who help bring Deponia to life. Take Rufus’s nemesis, his ex-girlfriend Toni: a sarcastic chain smoker who sports a frumpy patched overcoat over a pair of denim overalls, and perpetually nags at Rufus to wash the dishes, clean up after himself, and get a job. Nearly every character in this game is equally specific (even those who don’t have to be) with their own traits, quirks, and backstory. This, along with the in medias res opening, really makes Deponia feel like a world that existed before the opening credits ran—which, in a game about the main character’s desperation to leave and eventual realization that he may be on the wrong track, makes a difference. And while the game has only three main locations, each looks sufficiently different from the last and time shifts from daylight to evening to dusk as Rufus reaches them, giving a nice sense of movement and scope to his quest.

The game’s cartoon style wholeheartedly lends itself to robust animations, but I found much of the game to be disappointingly static. To be fair, many of Rufus’s simple actions are well animated and there are a handful of extended slapstick sequences (usually the comedic results of his ineptitude), but conversations have practically no animation at all. Since dialogue tends to drag on (and Deponia has a lot of it), this lack of gesture really stands out. Especially annoying: characters often stand idle even as the script strongly implies that they’re supposed to be moving around. Such inconsistency between spoken word and visual action suggests that corners were cut during development or, at the very least, the artists and writers weren’t on the same page in putting together these scenes. Either way, it’s a letdown in a presentation that’s fairly polished otherwise.

The lack of in-game movement is made up for somewhat by the cinematic cutscenes scattered throughout. Cinematics have a slightly different look than everything else; the perspective is flatter and the character depictions are just a bit off from their playable counterparts, as if you’re now peeking in on the game’s web-comic doppelgangers in motion. When a cutscene commences, the difference is noticeable, but in general the two art styles mesh well.

The interface is traditional point-and-click with a few handy shortcuts tucked in, such as the ability to scroll with the mouse wheel to open the inventory, or to press the scroll wheel to display all of a room’s hotspots (very useful in such cluttered environments!). For the left-brained among us, keyboard shortcuts are available, too. The game has way fewer interactive possibilities than Daedalic’s frenetic Edna & Harvey, but you will collect a good number of inventory items and sometimes need to combine these in unusual ways to solve puzzles. Although its disorderly backgrounds are true to the landfill setting, Deponia sometimes falls into the annoying adventure game pitfall of displaying items that seem like they should be useable, but aren’t. (As an example, at one point Rufus must look high and low for a “container” when a pot, a coffee cup, and a handful of other seemingly appropriate receptacles are in plain sight.)

Difficulty ramps up as Deponia progresses, with a few simpler puzzles easing you in before the more complex, multi-layered ones begin to surface. Even the challenging puzzles follow a certain logic that’s not unexpected in a world built out of trash, but many require more than a little out-of-the-box thinking. Inventory manipulation, dialogue riddles, and mechanical puzzles are all represented here, and many involve multiple steps across several environments, harkening back to the “good old days” when attention spans were a bit longer and we didn’t have cheats at our fingertips. Even so, they’re generally puzzles that can be solved without a walkthrough, and that’s satisfying provided you have the patience. Puzzle fans should enjoy these offerings, especially those partial to the offbeat logic of games like Monkey Island.

Deponia also has a smattering of pattern- and logic-based minigames that can be skipped without penalty. I resorted to this once when I knew what the solution should be but, after much trying, couldn’t figure out how to achieve it (and I was grateful for the option to do so). Unfortunately, this skip option is missing from Deponia’s most infuriating puzzle: a maze through a mineshaft that can only be navigated by trial and error. Adding insult to injury, the chart you’re supposed to decipher to solve this offers no clues or instructions, not even a close-up view, and the navigation sequence plays out with no way of pausing it to compare it to the chart. Though sometimes difficult, the rest of Deponia’s puzzles are at least fair, so this one seems horribly out of place. You’ve been warned.

Continued on the next page...





Buy it at:

Game Info

Deponia

Platform: Mac, PC, PlayStation 3

Genre: Comedy

Developer: Daedalic Entertainment

A comic adventure from the creators of Edna & Harvey.

More Game Info »

Releases
Territory Date Publisher
United Kingdom June 29 2012 Lace Mamba Global
Download Q3 2014 Daedalic Entertainment
Affiliate Links

User Score

Average based on 40 ratings

Log in or Register to post ratings.

User Reviews

Posted by SamuelGordon on Jan 20, 2014

A Great beginning

Bad: - Illogical puzzles and annoying mini games. - The sequence of puzzles and trigger sequences (the store example) puts a dent in... Read the review »

Posted by Houie on Nov 24, 2013

Great, Quirky Humor. Tremendously nice hand drawn visuals. Great voice acting.

The game looks great, sounds great. It also has humor oozing out of it every minute of the game and it is executed very well. Some of the... Read the review »

Posted by jannar85 on Aug 4, 2012

Wow.

After I heard about this "great" game, I had to play it. What met me was totally different from what I'd expect. It was annoying, slow and... Read the review »



Screenshots
Showing 6 of 30

About the Author
fov's avatar
Emily Morganti
Staff Writer

Comments

SplinterX
Jul 2, 2012

five stars system is too not information. ten stars is better to make desision about playin game or not playing.

Jackal Jackal
Jul 2, 2012

That’s what the actual review is for.  The score is just a bonus.

SplinterX
Jul 2, 2012

Score is your official opinion, involved in opinion of “world’s critic”. Every people perceive score (number) directly like something original. To say it’s just a bonus is the same to say we do something but we do it specially wrong. If you do something, do it as it should. Or why do you use score at all, if you treat it that way.

(Sorry for critic and bad english. It’s just what i think).

Jackal Jackal
Jul 2, 2012

Yes, the score is an official part of our review, and by far the least important.  If you can’t tell whether we’re recommending a game (or not) from reading the text, the score certainly won’t answer it no matter what scoring system is used. 

As for what our scores mean, the full description of our scoring system is linked to right under the score itself.

SplinterX
Jul 2, 2012

What if i dont want read the text, because i dont know english well enough. I need just a score.

“If you can’t tell whether we’re recommending a game (or not) from reading the text, the score certainly won’t answer it”.

As for me, score certainly do it.  Its kind of “we know better what viewers want than viewers themselves”

Anyway I know to change a scoring system is very difficult and of course you will defend it.

Jackal Jackal
Jul 2, 2012

Actually, it would be quite easy.  There’s just no reason to do it.  If all you care about is a score, it’s not hard to figure out what we’d give a game out of 10.  But it would still mean exactly what it means now, and still won’t tell you why it got the score it did.

Anyway, this isn’t the place to debate policy.  Back to Deponia.

ADan ADan
Jul 2, 2012

Well, I had hoped for a higher score but taking the points of critique that are laid out in the review into account I guess it’s okay.
I’d like to address two of those points though:
Deponia was never *planned* as a trilogy but as one big, epic, 50-hour-Leviathan of a game very much like The Lord of The Rings was supposed to be one (rather big) novel.
So, on the one hand I understand how one could ask for a more rounded (or final) ending but that would make as much (or little) sense as asking for Sauron to be finished off after the first of the (rather arbitrarily edited) novels of TLoTR.
As for the humo(u)r:
If you have to ask yourself if you’re “supposed to laugh” the humo(u)r presented might just not be your cup of tea. Doesn’t say anything about the quality thereof. In this case it certainly is different from Edna and Harvey. (Rather character driven and situational than linguistically explorative).

TrevorNZ
Jul 7, 2012

I really enjoyed playing the demo so I will probably buy it when it’s ready for download ......looks like a FUN game Smile

Fearabbit
Jul 7, 2012

I can understand many of the points presented here. The pacing definitely is a bit off, and I completely agree about Kuvaq: They gave you the impression that it’s “just one more puzzle and then we can escape” the whole time, and that is kind of frustrating.

What I absolutely can’t understand is that story, dialogue, animation and humour are being criticised. Those are the strong points of the game that actually make it one of the best classical adventure games I’ve played in a long time. The cutscenes are top notch and beautiful to look at, the characters are quirky and funny and just thinking of the scenes with the post robot going crazy on bubble wrap or the doctor “transforming” into a police officer makes me chuckle.

The story was also misinterpreted, I think. Rufus actually is a pretty selfish guy, and you can’t possibly describe his relationship to Goal a romance. He treats her horribly and in the beginning it’s basically pure lust that drives him. Seeing how he slowly starts (!) to change is what made his character interesting.
And concerning Rufus’ father, I’d say that it’s just not true that this plotline gets dropped. Just look at the ending and the characters involved… the cliffhanger ending ties everything together.

Oh well. One last thing we agree on: This was merely an overture, the real adventure is just getting started. But personally, I’m very excited about that.

driver8 driver8
Jul 8, 2012

Almost everything about this game evokes the Monkey Island trilogy for me. The art, the sense of humor, the way the main character moves and talks—it all takes me back. I played the demo two days ago and can’t wait for the US release.

But when will that be? Deponia is apparently already available at retail in the UK. The Adventure shop says they will have it on 7/31 for $20. Steam says 8/7, but doesn’t have a price yet. I couldn’t find any official word on this. Does anyone know?

PadanFain
Jul 15, 2012

Seems AdventureGamers have lost perception somewhere along the road.

Deponia 3.5? Chains of Satinav 3.5? Both qualify for the game of the year. Both have excellent pacing, stories, puzzles and characters, and a wonderfully simple and intuitive user interface. Only Deponia is a comedy, and Satinav is a serious game.

@driver8 The entire game reminds of Monkey Island, and has a wonderful sense of humour, for its entirety. I’ve just finished it, and it’s awesome. The ending is great too (since, keep in mind, it will be a trilogy)

And then I see Resonance gets 4.5. Resonance which has an atrociously boring first third, and a playable rest of the game, a cliche story, irritating puzzles, a turnaround taken directly from Heavy Rain, bad pacing, and a terribly irritating user interface.

So yeah.

edit:
Also, a remark; the mine-maze puzzle (deemed unfair in the review) is actually very cool and straightforward (although not as easy to solve - which makes it interesting).

Majsan Majsan
Jul 15, 2012

Am playing this game right now, just reached chapter 2 and I am loving it so far! It´s really funny and I really like Rufus voice. Haven’t been bored for a second so far…
(The way Rufus is described reminds me more of Simon the Sorcerer, he is very self-centered and obnoxious, but not Rufus)
I so far totally agree with PadanFain about both Deponia and The Dark Eye!

SplinterX
Jul 16, 2012

“Seems AdventureGamers have lost perception somewhere along the road.”

Agree. But i dont like Chains of Satinav myself.

Jackal Jackal
Jul 16, 2012

If “perception” means “sharing my opinion”, then we never lost it.  We simply never had it.  Everyone here has their own.

madmonkey madmonkey
Jul 17, 2012

My Perception of the game:

I am playing this game right now. It’s great. Voice acting is very good and there are a lot of creative puzzels in the game (i didn’t like all of them but momst of them)  Length of the game is fine too.

The only point of criticism for me is that when you combine items for example the comment you get is very much always the same. That can be irritating sometimes especially because there are a lot of items to be found. Some comments are also a bit long, at first very funny but when you have heard them twenty times not so funny anymore.  But more games have problems with this.

My compliments to Daedalic entertainment !  Keep up the good work !!

MoonBird MoonBird
Jul 19, 2012

I don’t know is it my computer or what (intel dektop dualcore e2200) with 3gb RAM and windows xp, but this game seems to be too much for it. I want to see animations. Not a slide-projector show…. cursor moves 5cm’s at a time… cannot enjoy the game.

driver8 driver8
Jul 19, 2012

MoonBird, for technical support, I think you’d be better off making a forum post.

filipstamate
Aug 1, 2012

I’m pretty sure you can skip the maze puzzle too. The skip button appears while you’re sitting in the car not during the animation of the train going through the maze.

Capitalism Ho!
Oct 30, 2012

The maze Puzzle is Skippable, I had to skip it too after solving it, due to a bug -.-

Adventure Adventure
Oct 5, 2013

This game was better than I expected from this review. I think a lot of people miss the point of who the main character is: he’s not a lovable scamp like Guybrush Threepwood, he starts off in this game as a lazy, self-centered, mean-spirited, misogynistic ass and what makes the games interesting is that he is going to undergo change as the story goes on.



Post a comment

You need to be logged in to post comments. Not a member? Register now!

Also check out...

The Walking Dead: Season Two - Episode 2: A House Divided review

PC Mac iPhone iPad PS3 Xbox 360

Conspirocracy review

PC