Deponia Review – Trash or Treasure?

It’s a good time to be an adventure gamer. After years of struggling after the reported death of the genre at the end of the 1990s, indie developers have brought the lifeless corpse back to life, delivering dozens of new adventures every year. Deponia is the latest point-and-click adventure to come across my desk, and while it does a number of things right, it fails to hit the mark, held back by a reliance on hit and miss humour and puzzles that defy the rules of logic.

Meet Rufus; a misguided layabout who seems like a living clone of Guybrush Threepwood yet is nowhere near as funny nor as likeable. His attempts at offering up a whimsical retort to each and EVERY line of dialogue often hit the mark, leaving the comedy feel forced and overdone. However when he does land a good joke, he can be quite hilarious, yet after spending more than a few hours with him, you’ll be happy to see the end of the game.

The central story here is that Rufus lives on the trash-filled planet of Deponia, and in an attempt to leave his excess baggage and smelly home behind, he gets caught up in scandalous tale involving the rich and entitled. It’s up to our hero to save the day with the help of his friends, creating a heartwarming scenario that actually touches on some important issues in today’s society with our excessive trash problems.

The first act of the game certainly sets up the foundation for what becomes an interesting story, but it simply drags on for far too long and paints Rufus in a negative light.

My major gripe with Deponia lies within the puzzles. While some of them can be solved without breaking a sweat, however, a good portion of them defy all means of logical thinking. While cast members will often give you hints that will tell you how to combine two completely ridiculous items together to create a solution, the fact is you shouldn’t need to rely on them to solve your problems. When you absolutely must ask a NPC in order to solve a problem it ceases to be a hint.

The first act of the game certainly sets up the foundation for what becomes an interesting story, but it simply drags on for far too long and paints Rufus in a negative light. Once you make it to the city hub things get a little more bearable, and the game really picks up steam towards the end, but by then it’s too late to really count.

When it comes to presentation, Deponia is one of the better looking adventures we’ve seen this year. Bright and colourful graphics pop from the screen, providing highly detailed characters and environments that go a long way to making this game worthwhile. The impressive soundtrack is quirky and original, and will surely please gamers who like something different.

Despite the fact that Rufus seems to try too hard at times, his supporting cast often provide some of the most hilarious lines throughout the adventure. The obvious tension at the beginning of the game between Rufus and his ex-girlfriend Toni will hit home for those who dated a psychopath in their past and Wenzel’s constant snide remarks hit their mark almost every time.

That is why it is so disappointing to see Deponia fall short of it’s true potential. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, sticking to the conventions of classics such as The Secret of Monkey Island or Full Throttle, yet it doesn’t pull it off with as much style or panache, which is sad considering those games are over a decade old.

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