You thought Deponia had ended, right? You said Goodbye to it, me too. But no, there a new entry in the series and its name is quite fitting: Deponia Doomsday.
Genre(s): Point & Click Adventure
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: March 2016
Played: Full story
Purchase At: Steam
At the end of Goodbye Deponia, Rufus sacrifices himself so that Goal and Cletus could make it to Elysium and convince the high council that there were people living on the surface, cancelling the plan to use thermonuclear explosives to destroy the planet and propel their city into space. It was a moment of selflessness for a character that is otherwise a complete monster, using people as playthings and tools to get what he wants.
Then comes Deponia Doomsday and we once again control Rufus, but now waking up from what he thinks is a very convoluted nightmare. But the house he wakes up at isn’t he one we knew during Deponia 1, nor does the town look even remotely as it did back then, making me confused about what point in time he was in. Was this before Deponia 1 or did that game even happen?
At first, I groaned at the “everything was a dream” approach, as I believed they were copping out of the past three games by sweeping it all under the rug. Now I wish they had done that. Instead, we have a time travel story, with multiple timelines and paradoxes that don’t make much sense at the start and just become progressively more convoluted. It’s made even worse by the fact that the game plays out as a Groundhog Day scenario, where days and sequences repeat without end until you find the right actions to move ahead. And this means watching the same cutscenes, the same conversations, picking items all over again and then trying to figure out the solution. The first time this happens, it’s infuriating, and it doesn’t get any better. The last sequence, which includes an escape from a Pink elephant (won’t spoil that one), is appallingly bad.
But perhaps, Deponia Doomsday’s worst sin is that the plot is pointless, as it doesn’t lead the characters anywhere new. There are no new lessons to learn, no growth left. The new characters coming into the game have the barest of characterisations, once again a collection of stereotypes and bland mannequins whose only purpose is to be Rufus’ victims.
Also, if you have a character sacrifice himself at the end of the previous game, bringing them back completely invalidates the sacrifice and the emotional investment the audience has in him, so when he makes the same choice again, it has no impact, no soul. Your audience will go “meh.” At least I did.
Rufus is as he’s always been, a completely unforgivable and unlikeable monster. To play as Rufus is to pretend you’re a sociopath. It gets very uncomfortable to keep playing as he continues to destroy people’s lives wherever he goes, uncaring of anything but his own interests. The opening sequence had Goal as a narrator—let’s not get into her name, that’s old news—and for a moment I thought she would be the new protagonist, something I was looking forward to, as she needs that spotlight and character growth. But no, we get the same monster from previous titles.
If the plot and characters weren’t bad enough, Deponia Doomsday continues the series’ tradition of badly designed puzzles with solutions only someone who breathed in lethal level of chemicals would consider logical or coherent. In my Goodbye Deponia review, I said the puzzles there had gone beyond Moon Logic and into Mars Logic, and Deponia Doomsday’s puzzles go one-step beyond yet again into Pluto Logic, where not even “click on everything” works. At one point you rip a piano key and put it into a xylophone but the computer tells you it’s doesn’t sound “red enough,” so what do you do? You go and paint the key red in the most circuitous way imaginable and then when you play it again, it’s all good. It’s still the same damn key, just painted a different colour! At another point, you need to find materials for a time portal, and one of the ingredients is Feta Cheese, so of course you trick a goat into a trap and then milk it for the cheese…right…
And those are just two of the astonishingly bad puzzles in Deponia Doomsday. I didn’t even go into the nonsensical ones from the first section in the game, such as making ear mufflers from jacket potatoes, or taking advantage of a traumatised Trans character. I won’t even go there. It says a lot about a point & click adventure game that its minigames and arcade sequences are better than the rest of the puzzles. In most cases at least, there is one new gameplay mechanic they added that I found appalling and incredibly out-of-place: button mashing timed sequences. Yes, your good-old-fashioned God of War QTE mashing is here in Deponia and it’s as appalling as you’re picturing it.
In my article on adventure game protagonists and whether they were actually heroes, I mentioned that sometimes you can see past the appalling actions of the protagonists because of the humour in the game, but once again Deponia flies way off “funny offensive” into just offensive.
Visually it’s the same as always, one of the strongest points of the series, with brightly coloured and beautifully drawn characters and environments, even if this time around the locales have very little in them, Just a couple of hotspots, nothing else to see or explore. Sound design is also very good, with strong background music, and good voice acting, though the once great singer for intros and outros is now off-key, offbeat and off-rhyme. The opening song for Deponia Doomsday is horrible, just bad.
Deponia Doomsday is an unnecessary game. It adds nothing to the franchise and feels like a retread of the worst elements of the series. Daedalic entertainment got a ton of brownie points with me for Memoria, a game I loved, but they’ve lost all those points and are in the negative once more thanks to Deponia Doomsday. It’s definitely a fitting name.
1.5/5 – Bad