Chaos on Deponia Review: Weirdness, Humor Elevate the Formula

Chaos continues to find itself hamstrung by adventure game conventions that dictate that simple solutions are not allowed. Sometimes things make sense in the game; other times, they don’t, and there’s quite a bit of trial-and-error that’ll likely go into figuring out a few of the major puzzles. One solution, for example, in which players need to steal an item that seems unstealable from a shop, requires going through a series of steps to acquire an item from another character — essentially, a pscyhotropic pickle. Then you have to bring the pickle back to the shop, eat it there, and have a trippy vision of yourself solving the puzzle. Only then can you actually access the necessary options to solve the puzzle, but the information that might lead you to acquire said pickle and return it to said shop is tenuous at best. In fact, often on the hardest puzzles, the trouble is that there’s something seemingly completely unrelated that you haven’t gotten around to doing. These tangential paths get tough to remember at times.

Still other solutions fall out of the realm of understanding altogether. There’s one puzzle in the game that I absolutely would never have realized how to solve without the assistance of an online guide, something I hate to admit. Once I had the solution, yes, I got the developer’s joke, but my momentary chuckle wasn’t worth the on-again, off-again frustration I felt from spinning my wheels for an hour before finally caving and searching for the solution on YouTube.

That said, provided you don’t find yourself beating your head against a wall made of Deponian trash, Chaos is both a lot of fun and very funny — in fact, far and away funnier than its predecessor. The story here is much more together (though just as nonsensical), and the cast of characters is way better, and that really helps with any of the puzzles that might slow you down. Daedalic’s first game in the series included a few chuckles, but Chaos on Deponia manages a lot more humor a lot more often. Unlike the first game, this one doesn’t have Rufus doing all the heavy lifting in terms of keeping things interesting.

The biggest and most welcome change is Goal. The red-headed Elysian finds her personality split into three parts early in the game, and Rufus interacts with her in her various pieces the rest of the time. This offers some great opportunities to have Goal switch from being wide-eyed and sweet to hard-nosed and annoyed at literally the click of a button, and factors not only into some great puzzle moments, but some even better dialog.

Chaos on Deponia builds very effectively on the foundation Daedalic created in Deponia, and does everything better. It’s still the kind of game you’ll want to be ready to hit the Internet to get through, though, because there are just some puzzles that will certainly lose people. If you can get over those hurdles, the remainder is fun, challenging, and above all, funny.

Pros:

  • Manages to be pretty funny a lot of the time
  • Some really clever puzzles scattered throughout
  • Filled with great, much more memorable characters this time out
  • High degree of complexity in plot and intermixed puzzles early on is actually kind of cool
  • Improves pretty much everything good about the first Deponia

Cons:

  • More of those “I have no idea what to do here” puzzles
  • A few puzzle solutions feel like the developers playing a joke on you
  • Did I mention the puzzles can be hard to logic your way through?

Final Score: 80/100


Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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