GAME NAME: Chaos On Deponia
DEVELOPER(S): Daedalic Entertainment
PUBLISHER(S): Lace Mamba Global
GENRE(S): Adventure, Puzzle
RELEASE DATE(S): 6 November 2012
Adventure games are a dying genre. Much like schmups and rougelikes before them, they’ve more-or-less disappeared from the corporate machine and exist now mainly as fond memories from the previous generation of gamers. However, like the proverbial bad guy that refuses to die, these genres still keep popping up as incarnations by aficionados with a desire to prove to the world why they fell in love with a particular category of games in the first place. Chaos On Deponia, by German developers Daedalic Entertainment, is one such example.It’s pretty hard to mention adventure games without at least a passing reference to Lucasarts, and Chaos On Deponia is no different. All the staples are present and accounted for: cartoon graphics, goofy humor with subtle references and various accounts of breaking the fourth wall.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s begin with the story. The game is in fact a sequel to Deponia, released just months before this current title came out. Players take control of Rufus, a goofy, bombastic klutz with a knack for misplaced priorities and whimsical ideas. Beginning where the aforementioned title left off, you find that a previously-attempted escape plan has failed and now you’re once again stuck on the junk-heap planet that you were originally trying to leave. Making matters more complicated, Rufus has to return a princess — aptly named Goal — to Elysian, a paradise of sorts and Rufus’ ideal choice of relocation. Unfortunately, Goal has a brain implant that Rufus has managed to damage, resulting in her developing three distinct personalities.
Did you get all that? Yeah, it’s pretty weird, but that’s the essence of the game’s incredibly fun silliness. If you got lost somewhere between “escape” and “brain implant”, fret not, as you’re welcomed into the game regardless of any knowledge that is lacking. Just be warned that a few references will go over your head if you don’t possess at least a passing familiarity with the first game, so it may be in your best interest to give it a go before tackling this one. The game gets even more off-the-wall as you progress; we’re talking time manipulation, personality-swapping and platypuses from beyond. Yeah. Really. Fans will instantly be reminded of the completely reality-bending set-up of Sam & Max, and indeed, at times this game almost feels like a spiritual sequel.
If you have played the original, you’ll notice that this sequel follows a very similar formula. There’s quite a lengthy first chapter which takes place in one location, followed by a couple of shorter but edgier adventures that push Rufus to new locales. The puzzles flow along nicely and the screens are always interesting and offer plenty of interaction; there’s always just enough items to click on, people to speak to and objects to investigate to make it interesting and keep the player enthralled.
There are a few issues, though. Some puzzles employ a degree of logic that is entirely too obscure and will leave players scratching their heads and murmuring to themselves just how on Earth they were supposed to figure that out. On the other hand, the game sometimes tries too hard to solve the puzzles for you, dropping hints when they shouldn’t be quite so obvious. While the former offense is forgivable, the latter is not because it nullifies the game’s appeal and comes off as slightly patronizing.
Fortunately, the game is not just standard adventure puzzle-solving. Smaller mini-games are included and the player is under no obligation to play or complete them, but they do serve the purpose of breaking up the monotony. Fans of the original Deponia will be pleased to know that a tweaked rendition of the mine-maze mini-game makes a welcome return.
At its heart, Chaos on Deponia is a light-hearted comedic romp which ensures that players can never get too mad with it, despite whatever misgivings it may possess. The humor is closely aligned with that from other classic point-n-clickers such as Monkey Island. Rufus’ antics as a bumbling buffoon are a source of many jokes; think of him as a snappier Homer Simpson and you’ll know what to expect. The look and feel is second-to-none, featuring a superb hand-drawn look and absolutely top-notch voice acting and effects.
Chaos On Deponia is living proof that the adventure genre is still alive and most certainly has a devoted fanbase. However, the game is not merely just another entry in a catalogue, but a rare example of how a product can actually beat its inspiration. The game takes all the factors that made Lucasarts-style adventures great, multiplies them and improves on them. It’s fun and funny and fans of the genre will love it.