A puzzling survival puzzler
If the above trailer confused you, intrigued you, or some...
When Daedalic Entertainment first introduced us to the world of Deponia, it was little more than a series of humble towns and ruins set amidst endless piles of junk. Series protagonist, Rufus, was – and occasionally remains – one of the most arrogant characters ever seen in the history of video games. His abrasive personality, and Daedalic’s sometimes-lacklustre narrative delivery, made for a flawed game; but Deponia shined like a gem regardless. The potential was certainly there, but has Daedalic made good on it’s promise with Goodbye Deponia; the final game in the series?
Daedalic’s narrative delivery has certainly improved as has its use of jokes, at least for the most part. The few, powerful, moments in Goodbye Deponia are executed well, and the narrative itself has improved significantly since Chaos on Deponia – the second game in the series. This represents a major step forward for Daedalic who has struggled mightily to perfect its narratives. Indeed, the stories are often the weakest link in Daedalic games, so its improvements in this area brings them much closer to reviving the golden age of point-and-click adventures.
Daedalic have made another large step forward in their use of the environments. Many of Daedalic’s environments would serve as simple areas in which to complete a given puzzle or crack a joke or two, however Daedalic have managed to tie them into Goodbye Deponia’s story well and they now tell the stories of Deponia’s residents. This is significant because, previously, Deponia felt like it existed simply to tell Rufus’ story; the people of Deponia didn’t have lives and were essentially a part of the furniture. This made it hard to care for them in any way and made Rufus’ quest to reach Elysium and prevent the destruction of Deponia seem unimportant. The story lacked weight because the world wasn’t convincing.
The addition of environmental storytelling isn’t the only improvement that Daedalic has made to Deponia’s environments. Previous entries had areas that felt far smaller, these were often enclosed spaces – rooms, junk-caves and so forth – whereas Goodbye Deponia has a much greater focus on wide open areas. This may seem like a small thing to change, but the result is that Deponia no longer feels like a small world. There’s the suggestion of a vast planet beyond Rufus’ immediate surroundings, and – once again – this adds weight to the story, adding a suggested depth to Deponia’s world.
Sadly, as much as Daedalic’s narrative delivery has improved, some of their humour has not. Deponia always skirted the knife-edge between good taste and bad – not always successfully – and Goodbye Deponia is no exception. While fair amount of this is down to poor delivery, some is clearly down to jokes being lost in translation due to Daedalic’s German roots. Even Rufus admits very early on that a joke had to be removed due to the language gap.
Possibly the best example of this is a joke about sexist attitudes in general. Rufus, who has always been the punching bag when it comes to delicate topics, is briefly sexist about some female soldiers. Whilst I must salute Daedalic’s courage in addressing the topic in such a brazen way, I must also pick fault with their execution. Some topics just aren’t suited to Rufus’ personality; his way of running roughshod over every sensibility often just makes him downright unlikeable and this both ruins the effect the joke might otherwise achieve and damages the story as a whole. Once again, I found myself struggling to care about Rufus. It’s not that I didn’t ‘get’ the joke, it’s that I didn’t find it funny or insightful, and I’m doubtful that anyone will find much value in that particular joke.
As I’ve already said: I salute Daedalic for having the courage to address the topic, but I feel their execution needs to be better with regards to sensitive topics lest they risk coming across as tone-deaf and insensitive themselves.
Beyond the occasional bungled jokes, however, Goodbye Deponia runs like a well-oiled machine, turning out the brand of humour, with jokes both small and grand – which fans of the series have come to expect. The singing Narrator and the Chorus Guys have established themselves as a series staple, being probably the slickest part of GoodBye Deponia’s presentation: offering many a chuckle, as well as useful summary of the past chapters and Rufus’ current state of misadventure.
Ultimately, Goodbye Deponia is what fans of the series have come to expect. As mentioned in our preview Goodbye Deponia feels more like an episodic release than a direct sequel. But it definitely has the heft of a full title and Daedalic has definitely improved as a developer over the course of the series and it shows in the smaller details. Goodbye Deponia is a strong, fitting ending to a series, however for all the value it offers returning fans, new players to the series would be well advised to play the previous instalments before beginning Goodbye Deponia.
Audio/Visual: 3/5 – Strong visual design and an equally strong personality and tone with audio design that can be fantastic at times, but slightly underwhelming at others
Gameplay: 3/5 – Highly polished, with a complete absence of bugs or obtuse puzzles. Plenty of handy features to mitigate the more laborious tasks inherent in point and click adventures
Innovation: 2/5 – Far more focused on refinement than innovation, but there’re enough new mechanics to prevent players from feeling like they are playing ‘the same game’
Value: 2/5 – Excellent for returning fans, but new players may find themselves lost as knowledge of the previous games is essential, and little overview is offered