Rufus is back. If you are a fan of the Deponia series, those words will be joyous, wonderful news to you. After you played 2013’s Goodbye Deponia, you were likely disappointed by the way it ended, with our beloved anti-hero (maybe) falling to his death. Well, in Deponia Doomsday, Rufus wakes up from a nightmare very much alive, before the events of the previous trilogy, and the whole gang is back for another zany adventure. Strap on your thinking caps (and work out your clicking fingers) fans, because it’s time to save the universe.
The Deponia series’ trademark cheeky humor is back in spades this time around. Right from the start, for example, the Tutorial is voiced-over by someone who sounds a lot like Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series – apparently David Hayter himself is one of the all-star voice acting lineup for the game. It turns out, he just needed to clear his throat, as we find out after we finish the tutorial. Nice start! All your beloved characters are back too, especially the anti-hero Rufus, ever the smartass that fans have grown to love. Deponia Doomsday is full of the cute inside jokes, meta-humor and asides that have made this series so popular.
They don’t always quite hit the mark, however, maybe due to Daedelic’s German origins. While the dialogue is pretty much smooth and snappy, it’s the sense of humor that doesn’t always translate completely. In one instance, one of the characters, Lotto, is apparently hit in the crotch. For some reason, he literally becomes a female at that point, calling himself “Lotti” (I guess that’s the female form of Lotto?), wears a dress (pink, of course), and goes on a very long rant about all of his new female traits. I felt like the game’s writers expected me to be in stitches at all of this, judging by the length of the scene. But it just came off to me as a (kinda lame) “kick-in-the-crotch” joke taken way too far.
“The Deponia series’ trademark cheeky humor is back in spades this time around.”
Another familiar aspect of the series that is back is the colorful, cartoon visuals. Characters are well-rendered and have the quality of well-known animated franchises. This makes playing through Deponia Doomsday fun, as you feel almost like you are experiencing an interactive animated Disney movie, rather than a video game. Each environment you encounter is full of color and detail that invites close examination and exploration. The sound adds to the polished feel, and the voice acting is for the most part excellent. Deponia Doomsday is a slick, well-made game that has clearly had a lot of love put into it.
But let’s face it, the core of a Deponia game is the puzzle-solving, and Deponia Doomsday will offer up lots of puzzle-solving action to keep you busy clicking for a long time. Once again, you move through the various set-piece environments, looking at and picking-up objects to use. There is a depth and complexity to the puzzle-solving in this game that is actually quite daunting, right from the start – which seems out of step with the game’s light, whimsical presentation. Some items need to be combined together, others can only be obtained after you go through a correctly-ordered series of actions, and some will only be available after you engage in a long conversation with another character. You will often have to visit one area, get an item, go back to a previous area, get another item, return to the first area, and so on – be prepared to spend a lot of time walking back and forth, and trying different combinations to progress. Die-hard fans of the series (and the point-and-click genre) will be right in their element. Newcomers and casual players, however, will feel lots of frustration and irritation at times.
I felt like some aspects of the game design could have been improved to reduce the tedium of puzzle solving. For one thing, it is annoying to have to trudge back-and-forth through each area, over and over, as you search for items and clues. I felt like I did way too much walking in Deponia Doomsday, and that was made even worse when I made a mistake and I had to do it multiple times. I also wished that I could exit out of dialogue when a character was speaking. Sometimes, characters’ answers to your questions are quite long; I often accidentally clicked on the same question multiple times, and was forced to sit through 30 more seconds of an answer I already had heard. Sigh.
Maybe it was just the fact that I am not a veteran of the series, but I also found the puzzles to be a bit too obscure at times. Before you throw your expensive gaming-mouse at me, I’m not whining about them being hard – I get that they have layers to them, and that you need to combine things together and take objects from one area to use in another. I just felt that the required solution had a bit more element of dumb-luck, or trial and error, than I would have liked. Without giving away spoilers, there were times when I would never have guessed that “that thing” needed to be used on “that other thing” in “that way.” I would have preferred if Deponia Doomsday challenged my brain more, and my patience less.
If you can fight off the frustration, though, there is a very interesting and entertaining story here to discover. The time-travel element adds some cool twists (which logically, I sometimes got confused by as well), and the writing is solid. The well-established Deponia game universe, with its zany characters, provides lots of fun moments, and I kept going through the puzzles often just to see what would happen next. Those who stick with the game will be glad they did. If you played the first three games in the series, though, you might be annoyed by the fact that this game seems to negate all the time you spent so far – but that’s another story.
Deponia Doomsday is another solid entry in the Deponia series, and long-time fans will love it just as much as any of its previous titles. Also, if you love point-and-click adventures like Monkey Island or Broken Age but have somehow not played a Deponia game before, you should definitely check this one out. The lovable-yet-flawed characters, the interesting, detailed environments, and the snappy story are definitely back again this time around. If you are new to Deponia, however, be prepared for some tedium and confusion to go along with the colorful fun.
*** PC code provided by the publisher ***
- Bright, colorful visuals
- Well-written story and dialogue
- Humor sometimes falls flat
- Frustrating, obscure puzzles
- Too much walking back-and-forth