Deponia wasn’t even on my radar until about a month ago. I was browsing upcoming games on Steam and I found an adventure game with beautiful, cartoon style graphics set in a world of trash. Rufus is a dreamer who wants to live on the utopian city in the sky, Elysium, and find the girl of his dreams. After an almost successful attempt to blast off of Deponia and up to Elysium, he knocks a beautiful girl down with him and sets out to get her back up to the city in the sky.
If you’ve played a point-and-click adventure game in the 90s, you know exactly what Deponia has in store for you. Even in the modern era, adventure games haven’t evolved a whole lot. Deponia does sidestep the trend of putting in a built-in hint system, which I think it could have used, but beyond that, adventure games have mostly just given us more puzzles that actually make logical sense and prettier graphics.
That’s where Deponia hooked me; its visual design is absolutely beautiful. Well, as beautiful as a world made of trash can be. I was constantly reminded of the beautiful, cartoony visuals of The Curse of Monkey Island, and that is a good thing. I wanted to keep moving to see what new locale my eyes would be treated to. The characters themselves had a certain charm about them and the cartoonishly violent situations some of them experience brings about memories of a time when games didn’t have to be so serious.
Adventure games live or die on the back of their story and puzzles and Deponia does an admirable job with both. Main character Rufus is an egotistical, vain, self-serving ass and I loved him for it. Most games either put you in the shoes of a hero or someone diabolic, so it was nice change of pace to play someone who deluded himself into thinking he was a hero. I rooted against him as he hurt those around him so he could accomplish his dream, yet I was happy to enable him. It’s like watching Walter White in Breaking Bad, though much funnier.
Storywise, Deponia raises quite a few narrative questions that it never quite answers. This is Rufus’s tale and everything else is setting. The majority of the game is set in his hometown of Kuvac and not much of the outside world is really explained. It works in context and I feel that what happened to the world and Rufus’s missing father are worthy of further exploration in a sequel, if it gets one. It’s not so much a complaint as it is a burning desire for more. If this world is abandoned, it will be at its detriment.
I was missing a hint system on a few of the puzzles throughout Deponia, though when I eventually did figure them out I was kicking myself. I was never presented with a situation I couldn’t get out of without using logic. If anything, adventure games have trained me to solve puzzles in nonsensical methods, so when they decide to actually be logical, its comes as a bit of a surprise. Deponia does, however, typically give you all the tools you’ll require before you can actually do the puzzle. At least I could enjoy the fantastic soundtrack while I banged my head against the wall trying to solve the puzzle presented to me.
I absolutely love point-and-click adventure games and Deponia brings me back to when they reigned supreme. Though, adventure games have come a long way since the 90s. As beautiful as Deponia is, as interesting its plot and characters and as intuitive and logical its puzzles are, it is still lacking some of the features of a modern adventure game. I still absolutely recommend playing it and I really hope Daedalic give it a sequel.
Editor’s Note: Front Towards Gamer received a review copy of Deponia from the developers.