Deponia 4: Deponia Doomsday
I find myself reluctantly impressed at how Daedalic handled the fourth Deponia game. I mean, the series was very definitively ended with the previous game, so making a sequel anyway was obviously going to involved gluing together a ridiculous explanation for how there could possibly be any more story given that — wait, before that, I’m going to be giving MASSIVE SPOILERS! for the ending of the third game, right? Right.
So yeah, the improbable fourth installment in the Deponia trilogy starts with a voice-over of Goal explaining the events of the previous three games: Elysium wasn’t actually supposed to be a floating city, but a spaceship, which was meant to be launched across space by blowing up Deponia. Rufus prevented the Organon from blowing up the planet (possibly completely by accident) and eventually falls to his death at the end of the third game. The End.
Oh, you don’t like that ending, asks Goal. Fine, maybe it didn’t end like that, but it’s still probably not going to be a happy ending. On that positive note the playable intro starts, and Deponia is covered in an eternal winter, Elysium has fallen from the sky, and a heavily bundled man with a gruff voice is heading towards the tower that contains the button that the Organon were going to press to blow up the planet, while being pursued by a bunch of yellow spiky lizard things. That man is actually Rufus, who somehow survived plummeting to his death, and he is now old and has a mustache. He presses the button, and bombs all over the world explode destroying Deponia once and for all…
…And then Rufus wakes up, after having an amazing dream about how he saved Deponia and then blew it up himself, while wearing a mustache. He’s currently in the midst of another “escape to Elysium” plan, except he’s back in a time before Toni finally gave up and dumped him. Remembering that, in his dream, Toni dumps him because he broke her glasses (her wine glasses, which for some reason are stacked precariously near his hot-air balloon) he very carefully doesn’t break them himself — only for a time traveler from the future to accidentally back over them with his time-travelling car! Rightfully fearful of Toni’s wrath, Rufus begins his ultimate quest: trying to protect Toni’s glasses by travelling back in time! (And by all means, to never, ever, grow a mustache.) But for some reason, a mysterious pink elephant wants to make sure that those glasses stay broken… (Yes, you heard me. A pink elephant.)
Okay, the whole “make right what once went wrong” time travel plot is a bit staid, but somehow it really fits with Rufus’ character to attempt to “fix” mistakes by meddling with the fabric of time itself, without considering the consequences. And while there are some weird and interesting call-backs to the previous games, the game doesn’t really lean on them too much and definitely has its own identity, which I appreciate. What I find most interesting in this setting is that Rufus, while still a self-centered asshole with a terrifying lack of foresight, really does seem to care about his girlfriend Toni; and while the glasses are definitely the straw that broke the wombat’s back to Toni, she also seems to have some expectations of Rufus as well at this point. It’s hard to call their relationship healthy, but it’s an interesting glimpse of how the two were before Deponia 1, where the loathing between the two had hit its nadir.
As for the game itself, well, the mechanics still all function like they did in the previous three games, which is great. The music I mostly recognized from the previous games, and although it didn’t really help establish 4’s identity, it’s still pretty good. One mechanic I did find interesting: when you go back in time, everything you did previously is reset; so anything you picked up is back where it was originally, and any puzzles you solved have to be solved again. This sounds like it should be annoying; but in reality, you never have to go back in time until you think you have that whole “pink elephant” problem dealt with, so as long as you don’t voluntarily go back you won’t have to start again. Hopefully I stated that properly.
In conclusion, while I’ve had some issues with having to play as Rufus, I’ve mostly enjoyed the Deponia series. I still think the series is a little expensive, but there are plenty of enjoyable elements and funny moments in all the games, so I think they are worth picking up overall.
Pros: More Deponia shenanigans, with all that implies.
Cons: Whatever character growth Rufus went through in the previous games (not much, admittedly) he hasn’t gone through any of it yet.
Worth playing: I enjoyed it, yes.
Worth the price: Once again, $20; in total, the entire series is priced at $70. That just feels very expensive for four adventure games, even four good adventure games.
Random observation: Pink elephants. Doesn’t get much more random than that. 😛
Arbitrary grade: B-
My Series Ranking: I still think I liked 2 the best, back when the series (and its music) were freshest. 4 is next for being interestingly ludicrous, then 3 for the knowledge that Rufus plummets to his death, and 1 is my least favorite for introducing me to Rufus at all.
Tomorrow: Depths of Peril, by Soldak Entertainment. I actually haven’t played this one before, but if it’s anything like the other Soldak games I have played, I expect it to be…okay. Not amazing, but decently good. Faint praise, I know.