Chaos On Deponia (PC) Review
Light hearted and funny
Not so much?
Some over the top voice acting
The Deponia series may not resuscitate the point and click genre into mainstream popularity unlike The Walking Dead, but it serves as a strong reminder as to how good they were in the 90s heyday and how great they can be again.
Point and click adventure games run through my blood more than I’d normally care to admit. As a young kid I’d watch my stepmum tackle the Monkey Island games on the Amiga… taking great delight in the wonderful world and atmosphere they portrayed and chuckling at the fantastic humour. As I grew older, I would play other fine examples of this genre such as Full Throttle and Broken Sword. Most recently, the genre has been re-ignited thanks to TellTale Games Sam and Max franchise and of course The Walking Dead.
Chaos On Deponia establishes itself firmly in the same vein as the hallowed Monkey Island games in both tone, atmosphere and complexity of the challenges laid out before you. It doesn’t just offer an entertaining diversion for a few hours, it envelopes you in a light, bright and brilliantly realised world that is a breath of fresh air in an age of mottled brown first person shooters.
Chaos On Deponia is the second game in a trilogy which first started with August 2012′s Deponia. You play Rufus, an inhabitant of a junk world where the upper classes reside high in floating cities whilst the rest of the population slum it on the garbage filled lands and seas. Your character is an arrogant inventor of ridiculous contraptions and contrivances that occasionally (through luck more than anything else) work. The recap of the first game is a little scattershot and I felt I only picked up the detail once I’d played through a fair few hours of the second game.
That all said, it’s a testament to how much I enjoyed Chaos On Deponia that despite not having played the first title, I have purchased it from Steam and will be making sure I have the third title on order as soon as it comes out.
Firstly, the gameplay provides an engaging cerebral workout where common sense, experimentation and eureka moments all help you to move through the traditional point and click puzzle solving challenges. There is a nice mix of both delightfully obvious things you’ll need to do, some that require a bit more thought and others which are downright baffling, but once the solution is laid bare, never feels obtuse or illogical. The game starts off with a very enjoyable opening sequence where you cause a comical series of misfortunes to a poor bird as you go about the simple challenge of trying to pick up a hammer. This was a hilarious opener to Chaos On Deponia and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the game.
Shortly after you are thrust into one of the junkyard port towns where the game really opens up. Sometimes it can be a little difficult to remember exactly what you are doing (or need to do) but that’s also a good testament to how open the gameplay is. Traipsing through the town with its cast of colourful and eclectic characters was one of the many pleasant reminders of the earlier Monkey Island games. Mini-games are neatly interspersed throughout the levels and add an extra layer of gameplay, however these can be skipped over if they prove too much of a challenge which is ideal for those who are more interested in absorbing the world and the storyline rather than spending lots of time trying to work out a puzzle sequence.
Even during the moments where I became really stuck I never got too frustrated thanks to the ability to double click from one screen to the next, which avoids having to watch your character walk from one side of the screen to the other all the time. This means that you can traverse the game areas quite quickly. Even long periods of travelling back and forth whilst you try and work out a solution to a problem never becomes patience shatteringly painful. Chaos On Deponia, despite being the second title in the trilogy, takes great care to welcome even newcomers of the series to both the game world and even the genre itself. Promising a rewarding challenge for those that want it, and as little pain as possible for those that don’t.
Graphically the game features some of the richest artwork I’ve seen in a long time. A wide colour palette and fine details adorn each screen, making progress a joyful delight as you get to admire the wonderful artistry and inhabiting characters. Having a Germanic background, the art style itself is a very abstract mix of European oddness. Some characters look like they wouldn’t be out of place in Bellville Rendez-vous, whilst others have the more conventional appearance of a Saturday morning kids cartoon character. The Deponian world is realised as a series of townships, buildings and interiors that have been constructed from recycled junk, which is reflected by the background artwork and the attention to detail. At no point do you feel like anything has been rushed in the production of this videogame series. Each screen is unique and has had the same level of care and attention lavished on it as the last.
The characters are wonderfully drawn, and although the animation isn’t fluid I didn’t find that particularly bothersome. The lack of voice syncing was a bit of a distraction during the moments where you see the characters up close during the cutscenes, and it’s only here where the artistic quality take a minor dip as they appear to be blown up from the normal character models that you control rather than original standalone artwork.
Underpinning the wonderful visuals is an equally bright and whimsical score that’s enjoyable and never too repetitious. The vocal work on the whole is largely excellent, with the dialogue not suffering as a result of the translation over from German to English. Some of the more over-excited moments of line delivery from Rufus does make the performance less convincing and slightly theatrical, the opening recap from the first game being a prime example of this. But otherwise the eccentric cast of characters are all given a unique voice with great delivery and comedic timing.
Chaos On Deponia should be an essential purchase for Monkey Island fans. A definite purchase for point and click adventure fans, and a recommended purchase for anyone else. The beautifully drawn world serves up curious but loveable characters. An entertaining story is glossed with many amusing moments. The gameplay is infused with brain wracking puzzles that challenge but don’t frustrate. The Deponia series may not resuscitate the point and click genre into mainstream popularity unlike The Walking Dead, but it serves as a strong reminder as to how good they were in the 90s heyday and how great they can be again.