Deponia’s general premise revolves around the protagonist’s attempted escape from the junk heap, which is all well and good, save for the fact that the character is a total idiot. Never before have I seen a character that plays so heavily, and so eccentrically, on the trope of “The Fool” as this one. Rufus is a nobody, who fails at everything he does, who is absolutely and inarguably convinced of his own greatness. Regardless of his self-delusions, the character is absolutely unbearable and I suppose, in a way, I like that; it means I don’t have to live up to high and exhaustive standards of heroism, I get to see him talking about things as if he understands it, while finding entertainment in the fact that his eyes are probably glazed over and the characters are all – in their own way – calling him out over this supposed wisdom.
Instead, I get to fret over the little things that have no meaning, act like a total slob and hit my head against my desk repeatedly as Rufus manages to defenestrate any sense of aptness for his role as the hero. Yeah, I’ve changed my mind, I hate this guy.. Maybe. Oh fine! I can’t make up my mind. I’m finding just as many reasons to dislike the protagonist as I’m finding reasons to like him.
There, 224 words about why I absolutely abhor, yet love, this game’s protagonist. What? That’s not what I was supposed to be doing?
Uuh… But Deponia?
Admittedly, there is an ample amount of humour in this game, enough to offset the unlikability of the protagonist, but then what do you expect from the likes of Daedalic. Daedalic’s sense of humour seems to be an energetic mash up of sarcasm and fourth-wall breaking, with hints of schadenfreude thrown in for good measure. Then again, Daedalic is a German, and the German sense of humour is my kind of entertainment, just look at how much I loved The Book of Unwritten Tales and The Critter Chronicles.
Unfortunately, Deponia suffers the same drawbacks as Harvey’s New Eyes does, although not surprising as this game predates Harvey’s New Eyes. Let’s cram all the pain into one place huh? The animation judders, regardless of a good framerate, not to mention the tediousness of time you have to wait for the protagonist to get from A to B. Double clicking to go to another area is convenient enough, although not exactly intuitive, yet having to wait for Rufus walk across a large area just to interact with an object is more than a little tedious.
Much to my surprise, the story here is remarkably simple, and the narrative is thoroughly entertaining. The daft ol’ clown of a man, Rufus, wants to escape Deponia, which happens to be a planet covered entirely with rubbish. To do so, he plans to hitch a ride on some kind of space train. While that obviously doesn’t work out, his aim throughout the game remains consistent and the man ends up jumping through an eccentric number of hoops in an attempt to accomplish it. That’s right folks, an entire game focused around the idea of a glorified hitchhiker! Sounds entertaining right? After all, just look how entertaining Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was.
Excessive rant about how dubious the protagonist’s aptness is for his role aside, all of the other characters in the world are thoroughly entertaining. We have a hateful ex-girlfriend; a policeman, fireman and doctor all rolled into one man, complete with eccentric gadgetry and context-dependent memory; a crazy, mad scientist, doctor, inventor and handyman; and let’s not forget the damsel in distress who manages to spend 90% of the game unconscious or muttering utter gibberish. Said damsel may or may not be in distress due in part, or entirety, to the protagonist’s attempt to save and/or woo her. Wow, that was a mouthful.
It wasn’t long before I encountered an unsolvable puzzle. No, I don’t mean I failed to figure it out, I mean the puzzle is literally broken and unsolvable. When asked, Daedalic’s support team offered the following explanation:
“We are sorry for your trouble, unfortunately there is no definite solution to this problem yet, because you can skip the mini game. As the support team, we are unable to decide the importance of this bug but are constantly trying to forward our customers need to the developer. Please bear with the issue. Thank you for understanding!”
In other words, because you can skip puzzles, this isn’t a game-breaking bug. As such, working on upcoming games likely takes priority. Understandable, and if it was another puzzle I’d probably not be as bothered. However, this puzzle is a railway puzzle and everybody loves playing with train-sets… Right?
Fortunately, this seems to be the only problem people are experiencing with the game. Even though one can easily get around the problem, it’s still questionable how this has made it into the game in the first place or, at the very least, why it wasn’t fixed when the game was patched shortly after release.
Face it, we all hate those stories where the protagonist is portrayed as an absolute moron, just to allow for easier plot advancement. A complete irritation it may be, yet what’s going on with the rest of the characters, as well as how their personalities shine through, keep you engaged regardless of impending stupidity. Then there’s the unmentioned awesomeness of the game’s ballads, which are exactly what they should be; relevant to the story and engaging, with a hint of entertainment thrown into the mix. I’m actually somewhat curious as to the sequel has to offer – and whether or not Rufus will gains some measure of intelligence at some point.