Review: Deponia Doomsday

Remember when Deponia came to a conclusion last year? Despite a somewhat abrupt end, it was Rufus’ one shining act of heroism that helped saved the planet Deponia from immediate destruction, ultimately sacrificing his life, or at least it’s assumed so. Well it looks like it was all a dream; or was it? Daedalic Entertainment was not content with how things concluded in Goodbye Deponia and have gone back to the well for even more adventures, and the only way to do such a thing is give the doofus Rufus a time machine for him mess up the space time continuum. There’s nothing like giving one of the most self-centered narcissists on the planet the power to change history as we know it.

Deponia Doomsday takes place essentially before the events of the trilogy where our protagonist Rufus awakes from a nightmarish dream where he not only saved Deponia, but in his later years destroys it. The first part of the game is one of the better moments from the campaign thanks to the immediate recognition of David Hayter (from Metal Gear Solid fame) voicing Old Rufus. Deponia seems to have been turned into an unfortunate state, with giant lizard monsters running amuck and Elysium having come crashing down to its own destruction. This is one of the more bizarre aspects of the game, having a story that somewhat folds in on itself. If you liked the events that transpired throughout the trilogy, well you’re going to have to throw those memories away. Goal’s feelings and experiences with our protagonist are non-existent, meaning we get to see their first introduction all over again but in various chaotic ways.

The plot itself is fairly straightforward for a time-traveling adventure. After Rufus awakes from his daze, he’s distracted by a strange pink elephant that ultimately causes the destruction of his girlfriend Toni’s priceless collection of glasses, something that seems vital in the rift of time. This forces Rufus to use his newly discovered time machine to uncover what went wrong and again save Deponia from its dreary future. Dadeadlic continues to bring their morbid sense of humor to the plot, never willing to sacrifice comedy for the politically correct. It’s not only about the sickly events that transpire, as there are always cute adorable animals being slaughtered with smiles on their faces, but the dialogue lends to this. Unfortunately, the script itself comes off even more foolish than ever before. Maybe it’s just because we’ve heard Rufus consistently rub his ego, but his childish ways continue forward into another ten to fifteen hour long adventure. He does have some redeeming qualities, but sometimes his jokes get old.

In terms of gameplay, this is very much a point and click adventure game. Players take control of Rufus once more as he traverses through the hazardous wastelands of Deponia and even finally makes his way to the bastion that is Elysium. It generally focuses on multi-staged puzzles, meaning that you might pick something up that won’t affect anything until later on. It is still segmented, though, so while there may only be say five areas to explore at a given time, the items you pick up will be limited to those maps – although there are some occasions when they will do completely nothing. Because of this there is more of deception than normal, meaning you may believe an object in the world is important when in reality it’s there to distract you from what needs to be done. This only happens a couple of times as the rest of the game itself is purely connecting the dots wherever necessary. Sometimes it’s as simple as combining two items, other times it requires a lot of backtracking.

This is where the biggest problem lies: Deponia Doomsday is riddled with convoluted puzzles. Most of them have been good in the past, but there was a certain absurdity to them that may have had players scratching their heads. Unfortunately, adding time travel only aids to the confusion as there were multiple occurrences early on where you need to go back in time, but the game doesn’t directly tell you when this applicable. Because of this, players will have to go through the same puzzles over and over again to figure out the correct way to progress, and it doesn’t help with some of the time sensitive events. When you figure out what you need to do, there will obviously be the “AHA!” moment, but there were multiple times when we were left with an unsatisfying look upon our face. It can be as simple as figuring out you can take an item or combining something within the world. For example, why would you wurst a piano key, and how are you supposed to know you can grab a star from the sky when there’s no icon and you must click on it three times? There are just some ridiculous puzzles here that test your patience.

What Deponia Doomsday does well are its mini-games. While you’re solving the adventure aspects of the world, there are a few mini-games per location that test your puzzle solving abilities in a more confined space. The puzzles themselves are actually relatively enjoyable, frequently testing your determination to progress. There are even satire mini-games scattered about; for example, there’s one that puts Rufus and a group of “knights” into an old school first-person dungeon RPG that has them facing a wombat with various weapons. It’s not all hunky-dory, though. While there can be challenging mini-games, a lot of them feel underdeveloped and could have been better realized. The RPG, for example, is incredibly short and very easy to accomplish, and a lot of the others can take as little as half a minute to figure out. It’s gracious of Daedalic to include a skip button, but it feels completely unnecessary. In addition, there are a couple added mini-games with different function in Elysium that contain either terrible controls (in the ball pit) or the simplest actions (mashing the mouse). For the “Fun Zone” it makes you want to stay away as much as possible.

From a presentation standpoint, Deponia gets a lot of points. The game has always looked visually impressive, containing a highly colorful cartoon art style, and Doomsday is no different. This artwork serves even better on Elysium as, while Deponia has a certain flair, the paradise in the sky contains a cleaner, more elegant design. Nothing has really changed in terms of character designs, but there are quite a few new characters around. Unfortunately, while the visuals are great, we came upon a number of technical issues with Deponia Doomsday. We ran into at least one instance where the dialogue not only changed to German, but it repeated the same exact phrase whenever someone spoke. We also had the cursor completely disappear from the screen and a couple of crashes, although that is becoming a standard for PC games. There was no game breaking bugs, but these did catch our attention in the well visualized experience.

Closing Comments:

Deponia Doomsday is a charming adventure that brings back all the humor from the past, but derives its puzzles on obscurities and trial and error. The puzzles are occasionally overly complicated thanks to the time travel aspect, not to mention running back and forth over and over again to best suit every Deponian or Elysium’s needs is tiresome. The premise of “everything you played before was a vision” also won’t play very well with fans, no matter how many fourth wall breaking references are stuffed into the script. With that said, there are some intelligent and highly-comical puzzles to be found, and the world is as lively as ever thanks to the terrific art style. If you can get past some of the rather tedious moments plagued throughout the campaign, Deponia Doomsday becomes a rather comical adventure.