Title: Chaos on Deponia
Platform: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Release date: December 6, 2017 (PS4, Xbox One), PC (out now)
TL;DR: A wonderful love-letter to the classic point and click adventures, Deponia’s rich in whacky characters and even whackier logic
Price: £25 (PS4 and Xbox One)
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How do you turn a lion fish into a zebra fish? And how do you do it with only a handful of items to use? Now, the answer would probably be simple for those of you who’ve already developed a twisted logic from the likes of Discworld and Monkey Island, but for those of us – like myself – who are relatively new to point and click adventures, the answer would be a little more elusive.
But that’s why Chaos on Deponia, making its way onto PS4 and Xbox One five years after its PC debut, is such a joy to play. Everything the game does is seemingly a throwback to those titles and far from coming off as a cheap imitation, Deponia holds its own in a genre that already has so much to offer.
Straight off the bat, I need to bring up the game’s design. Now everything in the UI is fairly straightforward which, let’s face it, is all we really want. Though the real beauty of the game is how it looks (that’s right, apparently I’m a fairly shallow person…) And I have a feeling that the game’s style will be fairly divisive. We were told that Deponia takes inspiration from the Discworld series and Matt Groening’s animation – it doesn’t. The closest thing I could compare it to is the design of Adult Swim’s Rise & Shine – which again was a great aspect of the game. Deponia does look great, offering tonnes of different animated characters and environments that – whilst covered in literal junk – are nonetheless great to look at.
The biggest selling-point Deponia has is, of course, its puzzles. With a series of quests that will tease and delight, the only issue is that they do go on perhaps too long, with a noticeable and unnecessary mini-game attached to the end of some quests that only serve to baffle the player. The good news is that the majority of these mini-games are skippable, so if you find they’re not quite the thing for you, the game doesn’t require you to finish them – which kind of underlines the pointlessness of them.
Overall though, the puzzles are incredibly fun, offering a series of varied tasks that will undoubtedly have you scratching your head for a while (and probably have you reaching for a guide more than once) but each time you do solve a puzzle, it does feel like a real accomplishment. This is partly due to the fact that you’re able to do such mental acrobatics that using sunglasses to trick a robot is a natural thought process, but also because when you’re playing the game those kinds of action really do make sense. There were only a handful of puzzles that really had me at a total loss – and even when I finally gave in and used a guide to help me, the answers still made sense within the logic of the game. It’s a tremendously difficult balance to get right, but Deponia does it brilliantly.
Good puzzles in a point and click game? Check. Well, what about the characters? Those of you already familiar with Deponia will have a good idea of what kind of character Rufus is. But for those who don’t, the best way of putting it is perhaps that – in all honesty – he’s a steampunk rip-off of Guybrush Threepwood. That being said, Rufus is still a fun character to guide around on his quest to rid Deponia of the planet’s would-be destroyers, the Organon. A healthy dose of delusions of grandeur, a horribly cheesy romantic, and a self-obsession that surely veers on sociopathic, help make Rufus a ridiculously stupid – yet somehow endearing – hero.
Though, I should make the point that the cast that surrounds Rufus are, well, something of a mixed bag. The immediate circle of allies, which include a junk transporter (who Rufus continuously accuses of being a pirate), the obligatory scientist – whose inventions include a time machine made from a cuckoo clock, and Goal, who has moments of being acutely interesting but nothing more than that. It’s a shame that the charisma of Rufus couldn’t be spread amongst the rest of the crew, who failed to leave much of an impression on me, though it’s easy to see why the whacky stupidity of Rufus wasn’t spread too thin – you don’t want to have to babysit a rag-tag group of morons, nobody does.
Though, far more endearing are the resistance group fighters you encounter fairly early in the game. The small group are the epitome of poser revolutionaries and the game provides some genuinely witty moments that work through them. It’s a little baffling why your crew are relatively bland compared to the rest of a genuinely colourful cast, there’s no real reason for it except as a natural offset to said whackiness.
Does Chaos on Deponia do anything new with the point and click genre? Perhaps not, but its strength is that it doesn’t try to. It’s a game that offers a truly ridiculous adventure that sure, will grate on the more impatient players, but for those who are willing to think outside the limits of sanity – or willing to find a guide – Deponia is a game that tries to recapture the “golden age” of the genre. And in many ways it does this well, so if you’ve already played through Thimbleweed Park earlier this year and looking for another tales of the strange to jump into, Deponia is most certainly a strange tale.
- The game’s puzzles are an excellent example of top-quality logic puzzles
- The game’s cast is overall a fairly fun bunch
- It look great, fans of cartoons will bloody love it
- The mini-games are pointless, serving only to ruin an otherwise great quest
- Some puzzles do go on a little too long
- I do wish Rufus could run, but I guess a casual saunter is just as good (it isn’t)
Chaos on Deponia is rated 12+ in the UK and “T” for Teen in the UK. There’s a handful of swear words but honestly, if you kid can figure out the first few puzzles, they deserve to play the game.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail version of the game provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.