Chaos on Deponia review
The Good:

Colorful cartoon art style and well-animated cinematics portray an imaginative world with unusual characters; creative dialogue and inventory puzzles are plentiful; has a more epic story with better pacing than the first game.

The Bad:

Clues and plot points aren’t always introduced in the right order, making some puzzles and story aspects confusing; dialogue drags on with a script that isn’t as funny as it strives to be; scenes lack much-needed animation.

Our Verdict:

Very similar to its predecessor with a few improvements in pacing and story, Chaos on Deponia is a solid adventure that fans of LucasArts-style comedies will likely enjoy.

Rufus is meant to be a comedic anti-hero, presumably one who will experience at least some change and personal growth over the course of the full story arc. But his development seems to be regressing, as I found him less likeable this time around. I originally saw him as a bumbling but good-hearted guy trying his best, who by the end of Deponia was realizing the importance of doing things for others rather than focusing only on himself. In Chaos on Deponia, however, he’s more abrasive, and unnecessarily mean to people he’s only just met. He makes reckless decisions at the expense of Goal’s safety (contrary to the player’s will) and generally treats her more like an object to win than a person he cares about. While his character traits are clearly hooked into the story Daedalic is telling, all of this makes Rufus tough to sympathize with at the climactic moments when we’re supposed to be sharing his pain.

In another apparent inconsistency, some wacky situations and nuances crop up in the sequel that don’t entirely jive with the world established in the first game. In Deponia, the planet was built out of trash and its quirky inhabitants were prone to slapstick situations, but their society and rules of nature were somewhat grounded in reality. Chaos on Deponia, on the other hand, employs some weird science—including a population of supernatural platypuses, time travel, inter-dimensional portals, and the ability to swap personalities between different bodies via remote control—that take the game more into Sam & Max territory than the Monkey Island vibe that’s pervasive otherwise. These oddities contribute to Deponia’s charm and I didn’t necessarily mind them, but some of the weirder moments felt out of place in a world I thought I’d already gotten to know.

After the hefty first chapter, Rufus’s adventure takes him beyond the Floating Black Market to a handful of smaller locations around the Rust Red Sea, including a research facility where dolphins are being trained to help the resistance, the North Pole, and the abode of a mystic who has expanded his fortune-telling practice to include couples counseling. Though there’s much less to explore here, these new scenes provide welcome visual variety—including different times of day and changing weather conditions—that give a more complete perspective of the trashed planet he’s trying to save.

The graphics haven’t changed from the first game. The vibrant 2D cartoon artwork, unique character designs, and creative trash-filled environments provide plenty to look at, and lively animated cinematics are peppered throughout the game. I especially liked the movie of the trawler moving through the water at sunset (very pretty), as well as one set underwater as a trio of torpedo-equipped dolphins converge upon their mark. The locations have more NPCs hanging around, which makes the Floating Black Market feel less barren than Deponia’s Kuvaq (even though you can’t talk to most of them), but the in-game scenes are still sparsely animated. During most of the lengthy dialogues, two characters stand still and talk back and forth with little movement between them. A few dialogues take place with extreme close-ups on the characters’ faces; it’s a nice change of pace, but even an extreme close-up starts to feel old in a game with this much dialogue. I brought this up with Deponia and it’s worth repeating: more animation, gestures, and facial expressions during conversations would go a long way toward making the long dialogues more interesting, and maybe even funnier. No matter how good a job the voice actors do, jokes simply aren’t as funny when they’re delivered by a character who’s just standing there with his back to you.

Most of the puzzles involve inventory manipulation and character interaction, many with a "chain reaction" structure that requires several small steps to be solved before a larger objective can be satisfied. Of these multi-step puzzles, I particularly liked a series related to platypus nesting and breeding habits (because of the logic involved, not necessarily the subject matter!) and another where an annoying gondolier must be thwarted so Bozo and his burly girlfriend can share a tender moment. Figuring out how to outsmart a robotic gadget shop clerk using various merchandise samples is another fun sequence. Like in the first game, I thought most puzzles were fair, with solutions easy enough to figure out—no small feat in a setting as eccentric as this one.

There are also a handful of minigames, which are generally self-contained puzzles with their own unique interface. These tie into the story, but they can be skipped without penalty if you choose to. My favorite, a unique spin on the Tower of Hanoi logic puzzle, involves adding and subtracting items from a restaurant’s value menu to end up with just one item at a certain price. I groaned when I encountered a scaled-down repeat of the mine maze that I hated in Deponia, but it’s thankfully better executed this time.

A couple of Chaos on Deponia’s minigames did befuddle me, although in neither case was the problem due to the gameplay itself. At one point, as I entered into what seemed like a straightforward dialogue puzzle (e.g. choose a particular sequence of dialogue lines to lead a character into a certain response), a “Do you want to skip the minigame?” box popped up on screen. This might have been a quick fix for a puzzle deemed too difficult, but it made me second-guess my objective and caused unnecessary confusion about what I was trying to achieve. Another minigame that’s supposed to play like a Simon-style matching game was buggy and completely unplayable (a somewhat common issue, according to posts on Steam’s forums). In this case I was grateful for the skip button, but would have preferred the chance to play it myself.

Although I didn’t buy all of the events leading up to the ending, I found it more optimistic and satisfying than in the first game. By the end, Rufus has learned exactly what's going on in the Deponia / Elysium struggle and he has Goal by his side—two elements that were sorely missing last time. From a story perspective, I'm not convinced that so much play time was necessary for what would ultimately translate into so little progression, but at least by the end I felt like my efforts had helped Rufus uncover new information about Deponia's situation that will carry the story forward in the final installment. It’s hard to say a trilogy was really warranted for this series; both installments have covered similar ground and not a ton has changed in the 20+ hours of gameplay so far. But Deponia is still a fun world to visit, and in this middle installment the stakes are raised and the story finally seems to be headed somewhere.

Chaos on Deponia makes multiple tongue-in-cheek references to classic adventures, but even without these, it’s clear that the Deponia team loves and cherishes the genre. While this sequel doesn’t have enough improvement over the first game to earn it a higher score, it is nonetheless a charming and at times clever “old school” adventure that fans of LucasArts-style comedies will enjoy. Personally, I liked Chaos on Deponia better than the first thanks to its improved pacing and ever-thickening plot, and am looking forward to the trilogy’s big finish to see if Rufus can finally get his act together well enough to get the girl... and, more importantly, save the world.



AD Chaos on Deponia can be purchased at:
GOG   • Amazon  

Game Info

Chaos on Deponia

Platform:
PC

Genre:
Comedy

Developer:
Daedalic Entertainment


Game Page »

Digital November 6 2012 Daedalic Entertainment

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About the Author
fov's avatar
Emily Morganti
Staff Writer

Comments

Danaroth
Nov 26, 2012

Wow, you really are pretty strict with votes; the review doesn’t seem that harsh to me, so I guess you actually use a 10 points grade. I didn’t find any problem with the humour myself so that’s why I had a better overall impression by the end (as in one of the best games of the decade kind), but oh well, fair enough to have different tastes.

Keregioz
Nov 26, 2012

If I were the reviewer I wouldn’t have bothered to play the second game (and certainly wouldn’t play the third) since it’s quite obvious that she doesn’t “get” the humor of these games which in my opinion is one of its stronger points. This is not meant to offend the reviewer, since as we all know humor is subjective, I just think that it’s really unfair for the game.
Personally, under no circumstances I would rate this game any lower than 4 stars.

Zin Zin
Nov 26, 2012

Danaroth, 3.5 stars is hardly a bad score; quite the contrary.

I have yet to play the original Deponia, but will definitely get to it and this sequel in the near future, despite the shortcomings in the writing department. I’m glad to learn the cutscenes are great, too.

peterdk
Nov 26, 2012

Really liked this game, but I played it in German, so that may be the cause of me extra liking it. (I am Dutch btw, so not a native speaker or German).

Anyways, I found the story to be much more likeable, and also liked the fact that it mainly took place in one large area. I would rate deponia 1 a 6.5 and this one a 7.5.

I must say that I disliked Rufus in Deponia 1, but kind of liked him in this new episode.

Good review though.  I don’t agree with the lack of animations, and didn’t found the dialogue to be dragging on, but do agree that sometimes the characters tell you stuff you should have found out on yourself. Smile

Great game, and looking forward to the ending episode.

SplinterX
Nov 26, 2012

because of this score you decrease value of your opinion.

fov fov
Nov 26, 2012

@Keregioz - Of course humor is subjective, and that’s why I tried to give a balanced look not only at what I liked and didn’t like, but also an explanation of what’s *there*, so the reader can make a personal choice about whether the game has the elements he/she finds important and enjoyable. It’s true that if I’d found the game a whole lot funnier, I probably would have scored it higher. But as a reviewer, I have to go into the game with an open mind and then call it as I see it.

Deciding who reviews a game isn’t my job, but I personally don’t think that assigning this one to somebody who was guaranteed to laugh is the answer. There’s a lot more to this game (or any game) than its dialogue, and just because someone is known to like one aspect doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll like the rest.

On the one hand, you think it’s unfair to the game to have it scored by someone who didn’t like a particular aspect; on the other hand, I think it would be unfair to other players who might not “get” the humor (but could still enjoy the game overall) to deny them an analysis of its pros and cons. Just another way of looking at it. Smile

Jackal Jackal
Nov 26, 2012

SplinterX, now THAT is funny in any language!  I’m sure you’re joking, since everyone knows the value of a reviewer’s opinion is in their words, not the score. (And that one person’s opinion is every bit as valid as another’s, even if you disagree with it.)

Keregioz
Nov 26, 2012

@Emily - I agree with everything you said, except that I believe that the “particular aspect” you didn’t like (the writing/humor) is basically the main attraction of the game and its biggest strength (IMO), so it’s a big disadvantage for the game if it wasn’t your “cup of tea”.
  I found your opinion on the rest of the aspects of the game pretty fair, more of less, and I appreciate your effort not to be biased overall on this review.
  Anyway, I know it’s not your fault, but I used to hold the reviews on this site in very high regard and I just felt pissed that deponia didn’t get the praise it deserved and instead I see other games like “book of unwritten tales”, which I consider the most overrated adventure game ever, be praised for its writing/humor (I still can’t believe that) and receive a ridiculously high rating.
Rant over…carry on Wink

Zifnab Zifnab
Nov 27, 2012

This was a really good review. Every point Emily raised was spot on except for Chaos being better, which I didn’t agree with. Although I think 3.5 is appropriate for both games, the “freshness” factor is always something that I think should be taken into consideration and I would rate Deponia higher if only for that reason.

But beyond that, Chaos didn’t bring quite enough to feel like a proper sequel rather than an extended add-on, some of the humor was stale, and I didn’t like the mini-games. Still a very much worthwhile purchase, as usual for Daedelic.

Sefir Sefir
Nov 27, 2012

I agree with most aspect both with the rating and the review in general. I must admit that while the humour, riddles and story were vastly improved since the first game, what IMO becomes more and more irritating is Rufus himself. He doesn’t seem in my eyes as the “goofy a la Guybrush” type of hero. His character becomes from plain idiotic to plain evil (there are 2-3 moments in the game that this becomes clear). Even his motives with Goal seem more lust than real interest and I expect vast improvements in the third game towards his character to really like the series…

Tramboi Tramboi
Nov 27, 2012

Humour is highly subjective, yes.
For instance, I much prefer Deponia’s to Back to the future’s.
(In fact I don’t see a single thing that is better in BTTF)

Matan
Nov 27, 2012

I bought the first Deponia on steam two weeks ago and I really wanted to like it, but about two hours into the game I came upon a game-breaking bug (http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2872351).

Apparently this game is not completable on mac Frown
This got me pretty mad, especially since this issue was already reported a few months ago and a solution still hasn’t been patched. I wonder if these bugs persist in the sequel. This review was done on the PC version, right?

fov fov
Nov 27, 2012

I reviewed both of the Deponia games on PC. (The first was an early review copy provided by the publisher of the disc version, and Chaos on Deponia was through Steam.) So I can’t speak to any issues on the Mac version… but that sucks. Frown

Two suggestions - make a post on Daedalic’s official forum (on the assumption that they monitor it more closely than Steam’s), and post in the support forum here at AG (if you haven’t already). One of their suggested workarounds is to play through that part on the PC and then transfer your saved game back to the Mac. I don’t have the first game on Steam so I’m not sure if I can help, but I’m sure someone else can.

Iznogood Iznogood
Nov 27, 2012

I agree with everything Zifnab wrote.
(You saved me the trouble of phrasing it myself Smile )

fov fov
Nov 27, 2012

Just curious, for those who thought the first game was “fresher”, did you play them one right after the other? Or the first one when it came out, and Chaos on Deponia just recently?

I played the first Deponia back in May, so that might have something to do with my perception of it (compared to someone who plays them both in a row).

Fearabbit
Nov 28, 2012

I can’t believe what you’re saying about the puzzles. I expected the highest of praises for the most fun and innovative puzzles that the adventure gaming genre had seen in a long time, and here you say that they’re illogical or spoilt by the game itself.
Just to clear things up - the umbrella scene was an ERROR. If you follow Doc’s advice on the ship, you’ll figure out that you need an umbrella before you find the umbrella. They forgot that people might not do this puzzle in that order.

Primate Ryan Primate Ryan
Nov 28, 2012

I played both games right after each other and I prefer the second game, which manages to improve on most things from the first game. 

The humour really worked for me (English version). Rufus isn’t really likeable, but that doesn’t matter. What’s funny is the situations he gets himself into because of his arrogance, egoism, stupidity and short-sightedness. This was already the case in the first game, but they managed to capitalize on it better this time around. 

He’s an ass and many characters (particularly the recurring ones of course) in the game know it, which is also reflected in their funny dialogue responses. Some don’t even bother arguing with him or already know that he won’t listen to them.

fov fov
Nov 28, 2012

@Fearabbit - I think you’re putting words in my mouth. For the most part I thought the puzzles were very creative and fair to the player (meaning they could actually be figured out using the info provided, without having to “read the designer’s mind” or turn to a walkthrough). It’s kind of hard to talk about why a puzzle is good without spoiling it completely, which I obviously didn’t want to do, but on pg2 of the review there are a couple of paragraphs devoted to some of the puzzles and minigames I liked. I definitely didn’t think (or mean to imply) that all of the puzzles were “illogical or spoilt by the game itself”.

Yes, I did feel a few were marred by inappropriately-timed dialogues or clues (like the umbrella thing) or tried too hard to be funny at the puzzle’s expense. But in general I enjoyed the puzzles, and even called them out under “The Good” right at the top of the review.

Hanged
Nov 28, 2012

I’m currently playing this game and I generally like it - it’s very well polished and there’s a lot to admire about it, especially the graphics. The dialogue is actually funnier than I expected - it didn’t exactly make me laugh, but it wasn’t cringeworthy either.

The biggest problem with this game as I see it is that it relies purely on humour. The plot seems to be there just to connect the jokes, and the main character is basically an evil ass with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It’s fun, but it doesn’t give you much to really care about. So it’s not that the humour is bad, it’s just not good enough to sustain the whole game.

Also, the game uses the kind of humour that relies heavily on body language and timing. The script might have been hilarious with experienced comedians (just think of what Steve Merchant did for Portal 2) or pixar-quality animation, but it isn’t quite as great with more or less stiff characters in an adventure game.

Interplay Interplay
Nov 29, 2012

Honestly, I don’t know why Emily is responding to all these comments.  She left her honest opinion of the game.  Your mileage may vary.  If people feel differently, they should leave a score for the user rating.  That’s what it’s for and why it’s part of the new site.  As of my posting, the user rating is 3 stars, less than her review’s.

Zifnab Zifnab
Nov 29, 2012

I think it’s great she’s responding to our comments. It helps to clarify her stance and I enjoy interacting with reviewers.

Emily:(“Just curious, for those who thought the first game was “fresher”, did you play them one right after the other? Or the first one when it came out, and Chaos on Deponia just recently?”)

Same as you - when it first came out.

What I meant wasn’t so much that Chaos didn’t feel as “fresh”, but rather that both games were like two parts of the same game - same style, same graphics engine, etc. So for me, Deponia was the more original game and should be credited for that. It’s much easier to copy the style and format of a game than to start largely from scratch in the way that the sequels to Gabriel Knight or Discworld did. Even the folksinger animation was exactly the same. As much as that might have suited the game and you might say that no changes were needed, people like to experience novelty. I didn’t really feel the two Deponia games had a distinctive “feel” to them - which is something you can’t really say about the first two installments of Broken Sword or Monkey Island.

Keregioz
Nov 29, 2012

@ZiFnab - From what I understand “Deponia” was meant from the start to be a trilogy. Basically it’s a single game, telling a single story, divided in to three parts. Think of it like the three books of “Lord of the rings”. So it was actually meant to “feel” like 2 parts of the same game.

Iznogood Iznogood
Dec 1, 2012

@Emily: “Just curious, for those who thought the first game was “fresher”, did you play them one right after the other?”

I played the first one when it was originaly published, and i felt the first was slightly better. Playing them back to back i might have felt differently.

Objectively speaking Chaos migth be better, with its cleaver idea of 3 Goals etc, but i felt the homour was getting a bit stale, and sometimes i just wished Rufus would shut up.

joshwilson44
Dec 2, 2012

I’ve never been one to complain about a review in the past, but the reviews of this game and its prequel have really surprised me. Thankfully this is not the only site I look at to find adventures games to play, because if that was the case I would probably have overlooked what I believe to be the best adventure of the year.

Fien Fien
Dec 3, 2012

A spoiler-riddled review. There’s no reason, none at all, to tell readers what happens after the Black Market (second part of the game), how the game ends, etcetera. AG’s reviews used to be spoiler-free. Not anymore.

Jackal Jackal
Dec 3, 2012

Nope, our policy on spoilers hasn’t changed a bit. Some writers are just more descriptive than others.  And as someone who has played Deponia but not Chaos, I can safely that absolutely nothing I learned here has spoiled my experience beforehand.

Fien Fien
Dec 3, 2012

Policy? I never said anything about AG’s policy. Only about what is going on in recent reviews.  I ‘ve commented on the rising number of spoilers once or twice before. And if knowing how the game ends is not a spoiler in your book, then you have a very unique definition of spoilers.

Jackal Jackal
Dec 3, 2012

You didn’t use the word “policy”, but since the people haven’t changed, a policy change is the only reason we’d do something differently than before. But that hasn’t changed either.

Some very generalized comments on the ending of a middle installment of a trilogy seems entirely reasonable to me. It’s not like it’s the end of the story.

Fien Fien
Dec 5, 2012

Her “generalized commens on the ending” are unnecessary. Her point was that she found the ending more satisfactory than the first game’s ending. She can say that without spoiling my fun. Would you mind NOT knowing how the game ends? Of course not.

Advie Advie
Dec 5, 2012

it is obvious that Daedalic aim to represent Deponia 2 and 3 in a similar way as Cranberry represented BM 2 and 3 (one part separated in two because of the story Longness) , so i guess there is no harm in a little suspense with part 2 ending being revealed and the reviewer might dealt with it (the ending) as its not (yet) the end of the story.

threerings threerings
Dec 8, 2012

“He makes reckless decisions at the expense of Goal’s safety (contrary to the player’s will) and generally treats her more like an object to win than a person he cares about. “

This was my biggest problem with the first game and I’m disappointed to hear it doesn’t get better.  I hate that Goal is literally only that: a goal and an object, but not a real character or fully fledged person.  Since the only other female character in the first game was portrayed very negatively I really feel there’s a sexist streak in these games that seriously ruins my enjoyment. 

It’s too bad because otherwise I enjoyed Deponia and its puzzles.  I think there is a loss of humor in the translation and I would class the quality of the humor as average for a comedy game.

Keregioz
Dec 8, 2012

@threethings - It’s true that Rufus still, at times, behaves like a douche towards Goal (which I’m still finding kinda funny personally, seems like you guys take it a little too seriously) but Goal’s character is much more developed and a “fully fledged person” this time around.

Advie Advie
Dec 16, 2012

About Lowering the Volume Settings PUZZLE!!! ,(i noticed no one mentioned that?!!)  Seriously Daedalic should be sewed for making such one. ... next time we may see a Puzzle that requires increasing Brightness setting to be able to see a hidden Hot-Spot/Object!

Stella Artois
May 27, 2013

Overall a good game with interesting locations and puzzles. Unfortunately,  the main character is so annoying and dislikable that it actually diminished my enjoyment of the game. Side note to the Daedalic team -  Cruelty to animal “jokes” are just not funny.



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