Chaos on Deponia: review

  • Format: PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Players: 1
  • Site:

Chaos on Deponia tops its predecessor in every way, but so easily could fate’s pendulum have swung the other way. As the second in a trilogy of point-and-click adventure games, entrapment within the original Deponia’s frustratingly open-ended cycle of trial and error seemed all but inevitable. Yet as if to poke pessimism in the eye and call foul its cruel boundaries, this sequel finds success not simply in being bigger, but in being smarter– and that, in turn, means you’ll feel smarter when the puzzles play fair. Most of the old piddling problems inevitably float back to the surface in some form or another, but time and time again they’re beaten back with heroic intent. Kind of like Rufus, actually.

After his humiliating defeat in Part 1, good-for-nothing Rufus wastes no time in tying himself to a giant rocket-powered saw blade in hopes of making everything right. This zany plan lands our tragicomedic protagonist in the Floating Black Market, a sprawling hive of scum and villainy bustling with underhanded dealings and vivaciously animated with care. The scenario may sound similar to the first game’s run-down town, but despite a brief refresher on past events, playing the original game is essential to keeping up with all the… well, chaos on Deponia. Of course, this time there’s a lot more stuff to do and much less gnashing of teeth.

Feast your eyes on the Floating Black Market. Population: Completely out of their minds.

Mechanically identical to the first Deponia, gathering an overwhelming grab bag of items to combine with everything in sight is still the name of the game; it’s the increased feedback that turns things around. Environmental clues are more pronounced, aided by optional advice from a huge cast of characters, and your efforts to follow the right trails are encouraged with Rufus’ musings. This newfound clarity doesn’t hamstring creativity, however, as a fourth-wall-busting sequence straight out of the Metal Gear Solid play book can attest. It’s a pity that unclear translation and stubborn breaks in logic haven’t been eradicated altogether, appearing every now and then to conjure up nightmares of that one puzzle from the first Deponia. Come on, you remember. That one.

Those very same issues should be worse than ever considering how much larger the sequel is. Just at the point when the original game would be winding down, Chaos on Deponia launches into another act that gives you free reign of several small islands on the high seas. With more places comes more people, and thus a grand opportunity for sheer silliness and hilarity– a particular strength of the series.

Look at all those people you can talk to! It’s like a networking meeting for goofballs in here.

Mountains of voice acted dialogue– entirely devoid of crackly quality this time– are devoted to rounding out an amusing cast of friends and foes, both returning and new to the adventure. Uninspired insults and mean-spirited jabs crop up now and then with a crew this sarcastic, but more common are the unexpected gags wrapped in well-written absurdity. This lunacy takes a natural step into drama for the climactic end, which– while satisfactory on its own– parrots the first instalment’s conclusion too close for comfort. The lack of choice hasn’t gone anywhere either, but the option to decide for yourself is downplayed in the first place. It’s a gentle, expected disappointment.

In fact, Chaos on Deponia rarely strays from its roots at all. Plenty of animations, songs, characters, and gameplay mechanics are lifted straight from the original; some of the same glitches even carried over. But a second chance is exactly what Deponia needed, and that’s exactly what it got. The bad was beaten back, the good was grown, and the outcome strays ever closer to the shining potential this series continues to display. There are still kinks to work out, but if the third chapter keeps up the pace, we might be looking at a real award-winner next time. Now if only we can convince Rufus to clean up a bit for the ceremony. 

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Written by Stephen K

A lover of video games in general, Stephen will happily play just about any sort of game on just about any sort of system, especially if it's a platformer or an RPG. Except sports games. Sports games are boring.

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