Saturday, April 27

Review: Deponia [Nintendo Switch eShop]


There’s no question that though the classic PC adventure genre took a beating at one point and had pretty well disappeared for years it has come back with a vengeance, the sheer number and variety of titles in the genre on Switch serves to thoroughly prove that. With a mix of ones that are more old school or modern in their control sensibilities as well as tones ranging from more thoughtful and dramatic to even gross-out humor there are many options for genre fans. Adding to the mix is now Deponia, the first game in a trilogy of four titles that steers firmly in the direction of humor with middle of the road control mechanics.


In the game you’ll play as Rufus, a character that falls pretty firmly into the “lovable loser” template who mixes brash overconfidence with a general lack of self-reflection, but who can probably grow on you as you get to know him better. Determined to finally leave his trash-covered world of Deponia for the fabled (and lessy smelly, no doubt) Elysium, he gets distracted by his mission by the lovely young woman named Goal. He does manage to “save” her before crashing back down to his world, with his initial goal being to simply revive her, and then teaming up with her for the balance of their adventure… and hilarity ensues along the way.


Mechanically while the game isn’t as streamlined as some other titles have been, usually trying to cut down on the classic genre problem of obtuse and confusing puzzles, it does try to help keep things moving. Being able to easily identify everything you can take action on in the screen at any time is a big help, especially in some of the larger and more detailed areas like Deponia’s hub. That said, expect to hit some of the old school roadblocks of adventure game logic when it comes to solutions to problems, what makes sense rarely rules the day, you’re going to have to be creative, lucky, or armed with a guide in places to succeed.


While the game leads with humor as its hook whether or not you warm up to Rufus may be a fair question. While by the end of this adventure he’s redeemed himself quite a bit he can be tough to love initially, not just being wise-cracking but at times being a bit of a jerk even. While typically games that are firing on all cylinders in the classic LucasArts mold make you want to try out as many dialogue options as possible the lack of consistent funny payoffs actually had me skipping options at times, the attempts at humor feeling a bit hit or miss in general. I’m actually quite curious to see how Rufus will continue to (hopefully) grow and whether later games in the series smooth out some of the rough patches. Finally, while I normally don’t comment directly on pricing I’d consider the game’s launch MSRP a bit shockingly high considering the breadth of options at much more reasonable prices on the platform and taking into account respective qualities… it’s just unusually expensive and a bit baffling.


Overall, Deponia has quite a bit going for it with some great and detailed animation, a sense of humor, and bits of quirkiness throughout. Whether or not you’ll find yourself rooting for Rufus in his quest may be a fair question, at least early on, as he tends to be thoroughly self-centered. But if you’re a fan of silly situations, strange characters and puzzles, and the classic elements of point-and-click adventuring it’s another decent option to explore on the platform.

Score: 7

Pros:
  • Great and detailed animation as a whole
  • Includes some quality of life helpers that make it more approachable than more classic titles in the genre
  • While not all of the jokes may land with everyone it has many funny characters and situations

Cons:
  • Initially Rufus can be hard to love
  • Some other genre titles have done a more effective job of minimizing the aggravating obtuseness of puzzles than this one does
  • The initial MSRP feels oddly high among its peers on the system