Goodbye Deponia, Hello Finale!
Storytelling in general is at an interesting stage of development right now in the realm of video games. Fans, critics, developers, and most importantly the public are discovering that not only can video games deliver high-caliber cinematic entertainment, but they can do so in a unique manner that surpasses traditional media formats like films or books in many aspects.
The Deponia series has always understood the importance of this kind of emphasis on character depth and narrative design as the main pillar upholding the title. Throughout the franchise, the games have always blended a fantastically crafted story with classic point-and-click adventure mechanics and engrossing puzzles. Goodbye Deponia, the third and final installment in the series, holds true to fan expectations, and delivers a fun, silly and hilarious adventure pointedly designed to entertain all ages.
Enter Deponia. Okay, bye!
No genre of games relies more on good storytelling that point-and-click adventures. There is no mechanical action, and so all of that engrossing entertainment must come exclusively from a narrative of extremely high quality. If these cinematic elements are phoned in, all that’s left is point, click, snore. No matter how intriguing the puzzles, or how inventive the mechanics, these won’t amount to much fun if we’re not vested in the characters and their adventures.
Fortunately for us, Goodbye Deponia (as well as prequels Deponia and Chaos on Deponia) is absolutely brimming with the kind of entertaining hijinks that are required for a solid point-and-click title. Our main character, Rufus, is not a very likable guy. And not in a “roguishly charming lady killer” kind of way. Rufus is a dick. He’s overly self-interested, a con man, ignorant, insufficient and slightly sociopathic. You may ask yourself, “what just happened?” Well, no one knows, but it’s Rufus’ fault… somehow. You would not want to be friends with Rufus. Hell, I barely even want to play as Rufus.
Oh god, Rufus, do not do what I think you're thinking about doing to that parrot!
And yet, Rufus is a fantastic character, thoughtfully crafted and a perfect counterbalance to the somehow sane (mostly) cast of supporting characters. Fortunately for Rufus, being a good person and being a good character are not mutually reliant. It’s quite a blast to watch these poor people have Rufus inflicted upon them. And to see him end up, somehow, as the center hero of all these hijinks is the most hilarious part of all.
Nonsense is the best sense.
I feel like delving into much of the plot of Goodbye Deponia might spoil the fun for players old and new, largely because the entire experience is pure story, and to try to tell it in short would be unjust. But, suffice it to say that this is the grand finale that the Deponia trilogy deserves. The whole of the story is a fantastic adventure that takes place in a gloriously terrible and dangerous setting.
The whole of Deponia is a mess, literally. It’s a garbage planet; garbage mining is an industry here. There’s not much sense to be made from many elements of the plot. But, then again, these elements aren’t really supposed to make sense. It's not really the kind of nonsense of a Lewis Carroll or Douglas Adams (though the humor of the latter author certainly shines through). Yet, the end result of these stories is a wonderfully fun adventure through the highest calibre of story, character, setting and design. Though there are a few minor issues with pacing, and some tricky spots where a player could use a hint or two, this feels exactly like the very best of classic point-and-click.
Similar to the previous sequel, Chaos on Deponia, new players can jump right in to the story without missing a beat. Surely, there is some character backstory going on and a few inside jokes here and there, but nothing that would make the player feel like they’re out of the loop.
"Sure, she's unconscious at the hands of some crazed... person? But, ooh, what's in this closet?"
It's hard to review when you're stuck.
If the story is the main centerpiece, the puzzles are the crown jewel. Ranging from traditional spatial pattern puzzles to the usual range of inventory mix’n’match experimentation throughout varying environments that has long been a staple in the point-and-click genre. Though some of them are less original than others, they’re still good puzzles; engaging, stumping, downright tricksy. These vital gameplay elements compliment the existing story, and result in a compelling and challenging experience. This, not quite unfortunately, is the only element in the game that might keep the younger audiences out.
How could this possibly be a bad idea?
Who knew trash could look so good?
A review of this game simply cannot finish until the art is mentioned. The hand-drawn style of Goodbye Deponia perfectly matches the unique flavor of the world. Not to say it’s garbage; just the opposite. The hodgepodge of trash heaps, slums, rail motels and more are all beautifully drawn, with care and detail. It’s not animation of the highest caliber, but it’s more than enough to stand up alongside the gameplay, the puzzles and the storyline.
Make sure to check in next week, when we sit down for an interview with Tom Kersten, lead producer, and Poki, the creator and lead writer of the Deponia series!