Deponia 2 Preview: A Really Funny Adventure Sequel
Deponia has been on my radar for a while now, although I still haven’t managed to slip over to GoG.com and pick up a copy because I’d struggle to find the time to play it. Still, the art style and tone of the game definitely intrigue me, and already a second edition of the game is on its way stateside, at least in a digital form.
Deponia 2: Chaos on Deponia, the sequel to the first title, looks to be more of the same, in a good way. Checking out a preview build of the game, I found that even the undubbed, subtitle-only version of the game (developer Daedalic Entertainment is German) was very funny and a lot of fun — although a few of the game’s puzzles stalled me for quite a while.
Players enter the world of Deponia as a character called Rufus. The ins and outs of the world are a bit confusing to the uninitiated: Deponia itself is a trash planet, the dingy counterpart to the much nicer nearby world of Elysium. Rufus wants to go to Elysium, and during the course of the first game, met a woman from that planet called Goal who he apparently fell in love with. But there are other events that have imperiled Deponia and everyone who lives there, so Goal needs to go back to Elysium.
The Deponia games are part of a planned trilogy, so picking up with Chaos on Deponia with little understanding of what’s going on the story isn’t advised. I found myself taking control of Rufus as he was trying to reach Goal, who was heading to Elysium in an escape pod bound to a cable that would, I guess, take her ski-lift style back home. Rufus was trying to intervene for story points I won’t get into, and my first puzzle had him wandering around, interacting with other characters and picking up items for his latest gadget.
The dialog in Deponia is where it shines, definitely. Rufus is a sarcastic bungler, but he’s charming in his way, and everything I saw in the preview was pretty funny. The situations in which Rufus finds himself, and gets himself, tend to be pretty great too — his first gadget is a giant saw blade with rockets attached, to which he ties himself, the plan being to slingshot himself at Goal’s escape pod.
It’s worth noting that even though I wasn’t really up to speed on the story, I was able to follow along well from the beginning of Chaos on Deponia. What’s more the game was funny enough that it instilled in me a desire to drop what I was doing and go check out the first game, which feels like a pretty powerful endorsement from one game to the next. One scenario in which Rufus was preparing to talk to Goal and psyching himself up was particularly good; another, in which two characters were having a conversation about Rufus in the foreground while he created larger and larger disasters in the background, was a phenomenal way to meet a character, whether for the first time or after the gap between the two titles.
Being an adventure game, Chaos on Deponia does have some of the weirder eccentricities that plague the genre, like puzzle solutions that stretch beyond the limits of common sense. The major part of the demo had me in a town called the Floating Black Market, in which Rufus had to solve what was essentially a giant, hours-long puzzle with many smaller parts. I was wandering back and forth among the eight or 10 different screen-sized areas, trying to figure out what the game wanted of me, and stalling out quite a few times. Toward the end, I hit a speed bump big enough to trigger a sort of adventure game fatigue, and no amount of funny dialog could keep me stumbling back and forth, trying to combine random objects and hoping to figure out what exactly the game wanted me to do with them.
This isn’t a criticism of Chaos on Deponia only, as lots of adventure games get like this. Still, it’s tough when you find yourself banging your head against one wall, only to try a different section of the puzzle and come up against another. It helps that Chaos on Deponia’s puzzle and scenarios are entirely goofy — at one point, I had to play Rock Paper Scissors with one character (which required me procuring an official “tournament hand” with which to play). At another point, I worked to find and hatch various varieties of platypuses.
But the end result makes me feel like Chaos on Deponia might be one of those adventure games that requires a little Internet help or strategy guide assistance to avoid stalling, and giving up, for good. That would be a shame, because I really enjoyed the story and humor of the preview — the localization is phenomenal, and I can’t wait to hear the jokes delivered by actors instead of bouncing around in my brain.
And as mentioned before, the preview I tried made me want to play the first Deponia, and I still do. Further, I’d recommend checking it out to others, because if it’s as solid as the sample of its sequel that I tried, it’s more than worth the price of entry.
As for Deponia 2, it seems worthy of more than a cursory glance from what we’ve seen, but it may be the kind of game for which you’ll want to keep an online game guide handy in case you get stuck.