It’s been awhile since I’ve played an honest-to-goodness point-and-click adventure game, but Daedalic aims to breathe a bit more life back into the genre with their newest title: Deponia.
You begin your journey in a pretty charming little tutorial. Your character (Rufus) has a delightfully pointed back-and-forth with his “friend” Wenzel, after-which you learn all the finer points of grabbing items, looking at them, and combining them. From there on though, it’s all on you to figure out what to do next.
The town of Kuvac, which certainly isn’t going to win any awards for tidiness, is the place you call home. It’s alluded that this planet used to be Earth, and Kuvac is one of many townships that are now just piles of junk in the sun. Of course, like the main character from any good adventure game, you have a desire to see new places. After several failed plans to get free of Kuvac, you decide that you have finally created the most ingenious plan to see the glittering city of Elysium and meet one of their gorgeous city girls.
Eventually you find what you’re after, but of course it’s not in the way you expected.
What you can expect, however, is a game that has been created with a loving hand and a sharp eye. The visual style of the game gives the appearance that everything has been molded out of clay. This delightful smooth-yet-faceted quality brings out the whimsical nature of the game, and — for my money — hearkens back to a bit of a simpler time of Saturday morning cartoons.
Along with the visuals, you’ll also find top-notch audio. The voice acting is hilarious, well directed, and emotive. When characters are as defined and well-written as these, it makes it all the easier to both empathize with them, and begin to actually believe their story. You start to root for Rufus, guffaw at his awful jokes, and sneer at his nay-sayers. It’s been too long indeed since I’ve heard writing and acting this spot-on in a game, and I think some bigger companies could definitely take a page from Daedalus’ book.
Speaking of the writing, Deponia has managed to create a lighthearted world in an otherwise bleak existence. As I played, I got the feeling that the developers could have taken an entirely different approach to the game (and made something like Machinarium), but was so glad that they didn’t. I believe that the main character’s wit and (mostly) optimistic attitude help change the tone of the game entirely.
The controls are so ridiculously simple, that I’m having a hard time finding much to write about them. Seriously! You left click to walk/grab/use, and you right click to look at. You can also either use the middle mouse wheel to bring up your inventory, or simply use a button. And that’s it! While there is definitely a place in our world for L3/R3, shoulder buttons, and mapping every action to a spot on your 20-button mouse, it’s still refreshing to play a game that has refined their controls to such a potent singularity.
Just like any good adventure game, there are plenty of dialog options. Some of these reveal plot points or hints to your current objective, while others are just downright silly. Of course, unlike Bioware games of late, the dialog you click is what the character actually says, so you’re always sure of the choices you’re about to make. You may find the area of replayability suffering a tad, though. While it’s cool to go through the game a second time to hear all the dialog, you won’t really be finding much to speak of in the way of new content. Perhaps an unlockable harder gametype would have been a neat thing to add, but for now, we’ll never know.
As you may be expecting, there is no real multiplayer aspect to speak of as well. I’ve yet to see an adventure game try this out, but when I begin to think of ways for accomplishing it, it never quite sounds right. Certain games just aren’t made for multiplayer, and adventure games are one of them. You’ll be able to figure things out at your own pace, complete the objectives in your own order, and even though you’re alone, you’re still having a blast.
Occasionally, there will be a few glitches and hiccups. Every so often I’d catch a typo, a word or two of altered dialog, or something that was on-screen, but not spoken by an actor. Other than that, the game itself is nearly perfect.
In summation, while Deponia is neither the first nor the best point-and-click adventure game ever made, it definitely deserves our respect. It weaves a tight yet engaging tale, allures us with it’s whimsical visual style, and has gameplay and voice acting that are top-notch. If ANY of these qualities appeals to you, you should at the very least take a look at Deponia. It truly deserves your attention.