With the sheer variety of fantastic adventure games released in 2012, it’s looking like the genre is making a comeback, and in a big way. Point-and-click tales have seen a huge resurgence with both indie and mainstream releases that have gone “back to basics,” so to say as far as both inventive stories and characters go with the excellent Book of Unwritten Tales and Telltale Games’ recent storytelling exploits. Deponia is an interesting beast in that it primarily relies on humor to weave its tale, something of a rarity in these times of dust gray shooters and self-indulgent narrative, and for that it should be celebrated.
Interestingly enough, Daedalic Entertainment was previously responsible for some decidedly darker subject matter, releasing games like The Whispered World, which is leagues beyond what Deponia has to offer — much different. That’s why it’s so intriguing, especially when you consider Deponia’s lighthearted and quirky humor as well as its backdrop: a big ball of trash. Literally. Deponia is actually a planet made entirely of garbage. Don’t ask us about the specifics, as it doesn’t really make sense to us, either. But regardless, its many citizens are proud to inhabit the disgusting planet. Of course, conveniently, our protagonist Rufus is not. Who can blame him? He lives atop a disgusting pile of garbage. That’s (surprisingly) not the reason for his discontent, however. Deponia only reminds him of his father’s cruel abandonment. Now Rufus wants to go back to where he was born.
Thus, the stage is set for a sufficiently goofy adventure that channels so many of the early LucasArts games many of us grew up with. Rufus, channeling some of the greats from adventure games’ past and especially bad jokes — straight out of Guybrush Threepwood’s mouth. As you join Rufus on his journey to leave Deponia, you come across a girl named Goal, who Rufus knocks out, and from there the game is one big jumble of self-serving Rufus’ descent into silliness, using others to get off the planet and coming into contact with a cast of characters who just, well, don’t like him all that much. But their hatred of Rufus is where many of the jokes actually lie. There’s some corny humor here, but that’s the tone and what works. While the pacing can absolutely drag at points, it’s clear that Deponia is all about the development of its incredible characters and their interactions with each other.
Puzzles are sprinkled between sprawling dialogue sections that some players may find last a little too long, but they’re never too mindbendingly tough that you feel like giving up. There’s a good balance struck between solving said puzzles and hilarious plot exposition, so you never truly feel as though you’re left to your own devices too long before the story picks back up again.
And even if you were, there’s plenty to discover whilst roaming the landscapes of Deponia. Most notably, the art style should keep you captivated. It’s a mixture of some gorgeous colors and rounded aesthetics that nearly bring to mind the style the popular webcomic Penny Arcade is drawn in, with similar character designs and locales that would fit right in with the series. Pleasing aural accompaniments abound as well, even in the midst of bad puns and silliness. It’s truly a sight to behold, especially the liveliness and frenetic energy of the art style.
Deponia is a throwback title of the best caliber, faithful to the greats that paved a way for humor to find a place in adventure gaming and forward-thinking in ways that should attract a younger audience looking for something a little different from dust-brown shooters and samey platformers. If you’re looking for your next adventure Deponia comes highly recommended, especially from someone with Purple tattooed on her arm.
Deponia is an interesting beast in that it primarily relies on humor to weave its tale, something of a rarity in these times of dust gray shooters and self-indulgent narrative, and for that it should be celebrated.