Deponia is a point-and-click adventure game by Daedalic Entertainment, a company that makes a lot of point-and-click adventure games, some of which I enjoy very much. As you might suspect, it is a very solid game from a technical standpoint, and the setting of the story is interesting. But there is one major issue dragging the game down, and that is that the main character, Rufus, is an utter, unredeemable ass.
Deponia is a dump. That is to say, the planet of Deponia is entirely covered by trash, dumped there by trains that travel to and from the floating cities of Elysium. Rufus, a barely competent handyman who is currently sponging off his ex-girlfriend while living in her house, dreams of escaping the junk heaps of Deponia and travelling up to Elysium, which in his mind must be a paradise where no one would ever try to make him do any work. (Which he doesn’t do anyway.) He has tried various methods of escape that never panned out, usually causing harm to himself and those around him. But this time, while his attempt to attach his escape pod to a train went amusingly wrong, he actually made it up onto the train in question; whereupon he caused another accident, and caused a young woman from Elysium to fall off the train before getting thrown off himself. Rufus believes this young woman, Goal, is his ticket off Deponia at last, and starts trying to ingratiate himself with her. Unfortunately, she’s lost her memory…
So yeah, Rufus. I understand that he’s supposed to be “comically” unlikable: he’s an idiot who never thinks things through, he is completely unreliable, and he is a self-indulgent egomaniac who blames other people for his problems. The only saving grace he has is that he causes far more harm to himself than anyone else — especially physical harm: that incident with the train in the beginning, for example, sees him dragged through rusted metal scrap, live electrical wires, and giant cacti. Nobody in town likes him, including and especially his ex-girlfriend Toni, and it’s clear that he doesn’t understand why. I don’t want to imply that the rest of the townsfolk are good people, since they treat Rufus pretty badly in all honesty…but he kinda sorta really deserves it. And I’ve got three more games with this tool… Seriously, I hope he undergoes some severe character development. Preferably soon.
Other than that, the game has some good points. The artwork is good, and I actually like the background music. Mouse controls are pretty standard with right-click for examining things, and left-click for interacting. Interestingly, you can choose between a standard “click to open” inventory, or using mouse-wheel down to open the inventory, and up to close it. The animation is a bit hit and miss: it’s usually pretty smooth, but occasionally character sprites will teleport around, or certain animations won’t play (or don’t exist, I wasn’t exactly clear). Voice acting was a bit questionable in places as well, and often subtitles and voiced lines didn’t match. But Rufus’ VA was actually pretty good, which…almost makes it worse, since he was voicing Rufus.
In sum, the main character didn’t really feel that funny to me, so a bunch of humor fell pretty flat for me. Oh, and because of the dedication to having a comedic tone, some of the puzzle solutions get really bizarre. But there were some cute gags in there, and an obvious amount of effort was made to make unique responses when you start using items on everything and each other in an attempt to figure out what to do next. I can’t pan it entirely, in other words; but if Rufus doesn’t improve over the next three installments, I don’t know if I’ll be able to stay positive…
Pros: Good artwork; good music.
Cons: Rufus; bizarre and illogical puzzle solutions; also, Rufus.
Worth playing: …Let me get back to you on that.
Worth the price: At $10, it’s the cheapest of the Deponia titles. Hm.
Random observation: Honestly, I feel bad for Toni; the biggest plot hole in the game is why she hasn’t actually kicked Rufus out of her house. Wonder if that ever gets explained. 😦
Arbitrary grade: C+
Tomorrow: Deponia 2: Chaos on Deponia. To be fair, anywhere Rufus stays for longer than a day will probably experience Chaos in any case.