Deponia is the first in a series of four games that were initially produced in Germany for the PC and has since rightfully earned a worldwide cult following and been released on nearly every platform out today. If Niell Blomkamp made animated Terry Pratchett game, it might just come out something like this.
Your mileage may vary, but for better or worse Deponia has an undeniable Lucas Arts, classic 90’s, point and click sense of humor and gameplay style where fans of Sam & Max or Grim Fandango will be right at home. Without veering too often into the full-on wacky territory, the irreverent humor, on the whole, made me chuckle pretty consistently, although if you get stuck at points, you do end up hearing the same quip over and over.
Speaking of, every line of dialogue in Deponia is voiced by very competent actors that give life to the jaded inhabitants of the titular Deponia’s dieselpunk wastelands. Everyone walks around the place acting like they’re in an episode of Daria snarking their way through every interaction. There’s a clear love for cartoons of the turn of the century and the nineties, so characters look like recolors of Recess or Codename: Kids Next Door while others could have stepped right out of Red Dwarf, Star Wars, or Mad Max.
The charming characters of Deponia are each illustrated with very distinctive character facial designs, I was not a huge fan at first but once I got into the noseless shoes of the amoral protagonist Rufus and investigated the titular world of Deponia I was won over by the vast amount of detailed art filling every pixel of every background.
The ruined streets are piled high with trash and rusting machine parts, and in a traditional pixel hunting point and click adventure game the detailed environments could potentially be a hindrance, however, fortunately in Deponia, you are provided with an intelligent lock-on system that easily allows you scroll through any intractable objects or characters. No more pixel hunting and clicking on everything on the screen.
This exceptional feature is let down by the rest of the user interface which is clunky and archaic, revealing the PC stylings of yesteryear which doesn’t quite fit on the Nintendo Switch. It’s a shame for a game whose greatest strength lies in its fantastic art, the menus and pause screens are so underwhelming; obviously, this criticism is far more of a nitpick than a reason not respect the massive amount of work gone into the global production of Deponia.
The main problem of Deponia is the same that plagues nearly every other Point and Click Adventure game, and this is the fundamental reliance on Moon Logic. For those of you that are not familiar with the trope; Moon Logic is when your character has to complete a seemingly simple task but have to use a convoluted thought process to work out the solution to the seemingly simple task to progress with the story.
An excellent example in Deponia is at one point you have to make a coffee, but instead of activating powdered java with a cup of boiling water, you will have to complete a long series of itinerary puzzles to get a stimulant, then another set of problems to acquire hot bean and black powder, then more head-scratchers to get 3 kinds of water, several hours later and after combining innumerable seemingly unrelated items you will eventually get the desired cup of coffee. While this may sound like harsh or ignorant criticism, like saying there’s too much football in a FIFA game, as this is a fundamental part of nearly every entry to the genre.
It is almost certainly not as bad as it sounds with every single interaction having amusing dialogue given life by spot-on voicework and quirky animations bursting out of every single screen. If Moon Logic Puzzles put you off, then I’m afraid the point and click genre is most definitely not for you. Pro Tip all this can easily be circumvented with an online FAQ or guide, of which there are many for Deponia. However, really should we have to refer to a walkthrough to satisfactorily progress in a game?
To be honest, I can not think of a point and click adventure game that I have played through without referring to a guide at some point. I don’t play these games for the puzzles I play for the characters and to explore the well-crafted worlds plucked from the twisted minds of Daedalic Entertainment, in this case. The creators of Deponia seem to have been aware that people will play this game purely for the story as the severely archaic minigames that bookend story chapters can be skipped entirely with a simple button press.
If you are looking take your first dip into the genre, a latent point and click adventurer that fondly misses Futurama or can’t wait any longer for the next season of Rick and Morty, then Deponia may just help to fill that gap! While going a completely different route from With the ease of puzzle solutions (with occasional glimpses at a guide) and exceptional voicing and artwork Deponia comes as close to playing through a semi-mature, sci-fi, comedy cartoon or graphic novel as you can get.
While Deponia may not be absolutely everyone’s cup of post-apocalyptic tea, I was highly entertained with my time in the wastelands and very impressed by the volume and quality of the in-game artwork. Have you ever completed a point and click adventure without using an FAQ?