After more than a decade of mourning the old glories of the point-and-click adventure genre, recent years have revived the genre, with episodic titles from TellTale, the sagas of Daedalic or the ambitious projects of Double Fine. And it must be admitted: in some ways, the return of the improbable combinations of instruments in inventories from infinite space, the need to think outside the box and the beauty of seeing a story literally flow with each of our actions, were a leap to the heart for those who, like myself, grew up with such titles.
Obviously, the other side of the coin of having a fanbase so ready to welcome the genre again with open arms is that the nostalgia effect soon collides with the old glories, and undoubtedly one of the giants of the sector is the Monkey Island saga, which with its absurdities, its irony and its yet memorable characters, has accompanied a generation of players to discover the charm of point & click.
Anyone would have trouble challenging such a "Goliath" on their own territory, and the "David" of the situation is none other than the irreverent trilogy of Deponia.
Welcome to Deponia
On his side, the world created by the Germans of Daedalic Entertainment, however, has some ace to play, first of all, the superb quality of the animated stroke.
In line with the aforementioned Monkey Island series, too Escape from Deponia, Chaos on Deponia e Goodbye deponia they opt for a less realistic and more “cartoonish” style, which helps to tone down the tones heavy themes of environmental devastation and black humor that permeates the entire trilogy. Deponia is a world now collapsing, made up of vast rusty plains and littered mostly with long-abandoned technology and dwindling resources, surrounded by twilight skies in which the only visible things are the gigantic orbital station Elysium (unreachable symbol of a perfect life opposed to the omnipresent pollution), and the towers of the Organon ...
Many small details that make up the picture of a universe at times deliberately unpleasant, but which at the same time provide an immediately recognizable foundation for the characters who move there and their motivations. Characters like the unspeakable Rufus, probably one of the meanest and most egocentric protagonists ever created, but also capable of capturing the attention (and why not, also the sympathy) of the players with his crazy creativity and his tenacious ego. Or like the beautiful Goal, introduced as an ideal of innocence and idealism in the first title, until it evolves, discovering more tenacious, haughty or childish sides in the second, towards a complex and mature character in the third, capable of indulging even in moments of irony or real personal drama.
Obviously the protagonists stand out above all, but in the course of the trilogy they are many supporting actors who emerge from anonymity, at levels of more or less deep complexity depending on their importance. Even the very listless narrator, or even the vocal chorus that sings with him the various intermezzo stanzas between one chapter and another of the three games, manage to get space, thanks also to the help of two other factors on which Daedalic treads. the hand: the narrative and the audio sector.
Huzzah, the Chorus Guys rules!
As the eye wants its part, in fact, the player's hearing also needs to be satisfied in a game that makes the atmosphere a good half of its strength. And even in this respect, Daedalic convinces enough to entice the player to continue discovering the events of Rufus & Co. To be honest, it must be said that the songs present in the trilogy are not many, and which often and willingly are repeated for several occasions, but if on the one hand it may seem the product of a creative lack, on the other it has its advantages.
First and foremost, after the first few hours of play, we will be able to immediately distinguish mood changes, from the seriousness to the pressure for a risky plan to carry out, to the more light-hearted exploration, which will allow us to give free rein to our imagination in solving the puzzles.
Second point, especially as regards the Intermission songs by the Narrator, these will help to put what we have seen and what awaits us in a "right" perspective, which in this specific case is the one best suited to the mood of the protagonist. And this will not always correspond to what common sense would suggest ... Did we just destroy our only means of transport leaving everyone on foot for several kilometers? Why not sing in joy, meanwhile flooding the choir chamber with laughing gas, enjoying the last verse of the song sung with unnaturally raised voices of at least two octaves, while a satisfied Rufus proudly advances leading his exasperated companions?
Third point, the same tracks, often reused, will undergo an "evolution" in the three titles, passing from a simple round of familiar notes, to a gradually more complex melody, which especially in the third game, will accompany the various revelations, underlining them from time to time in a subtle but brilliant way.
Plasma exchange whoop-dee-doo mammoth fur relay
However, if so far we have talked about "side dishes", it is time to bite into the biggest and most succulent morsels of what makes a competitive point and click adventure, and it is precisely on the "taste" of the latter that the decision between elevating the saga among the greats of the genre or relegating it to mediocrity.
Speaking of the puzzles, the three chapters that make up Rufus's story go hand in hand with the maturity and development of the protagonist. If in the first puzzles we have to deal with a reality fed up with Rufus' disastrous bravado (both for him and for most of those present), nevertheless finding ourselves bogged down in complete reluctance of the protagonist to use common sense, we will be forced to make a decidedly creative use of what surrounds us, objects, situations or people who are. On the other hand, in the most serious moments and in which there are much more important things at stake than Rufus' ego (and after a few hours in his shoes, we will learn that there are very few of them for our walking catastrophe!), Make the most important choices. appropriate will come extremely natural, a spontaneous reaction to the excess of lateral thinking that the game forces its players. Which, seen from the point of view of a story to be told with different rhythms for different situations, can only be an advantage.
However, if on the one hand we will have fairly affordable puzzles with a little exploration and experimentation, on the other hand there are also situations in which the resolution is left to chance. Now, even admitting that many of Rufus's plans do, indeed, tend not to come even remotely in the hoped-for way, in a universe that we seem to enjoy functioning differently than the human mind would suggest, there are some cases in which we will have to be able to set in motion chains of events of which neither the final objectives nor the initial endowments are clear.
On this last point, unfortunately, the tendency of the series is to get worse with each instance, with puzzles still for the most part vaguely sensible in the first episode, up to, in the third, to solve (or create) obstacles not so much because we will really need them, but more for their simple presence, regardless of the apparent relevance of the same with our goals.
… Let go.
At the narrative level, this trend seems to be less evident, but only because the series does not have a real descending progression in the quality of the story, but rather high quality peaks, interspersed with big bangs that leave a lot to be desired. The story, fortunately, manages to stand up more than with dignity in the first two chapters, laying the narrative foundations for the third.
As already mentioned, in Escape from Deponia, we will find ourselves familiar with the various characters in their basic characters, with their superficial motivations and their idiosyncrasies. Rufus is an egomaniac unable to see the harmful consequences of his actions on others, but animated by a deep and understandable desire to change his life, fleeing from a world that considers him scum. The apparent egotism, however, will fade when, at the end of the game, he will have to deal with his own conscience and the opportunity to prove his true value to himself. Similarly, in Chaos on Deponia, the main line is to demonstrate Rufus' fortitude to Goal (in all three versions) by revealing from time to time more complex and profound aspects of the personality of both.
As the most hidden sides of the characters emerge, however, the general plot will suffer from time to time a darkening, also losing contact with what is the logic of the situations. All this, up to the point where many characters will have something to say, but the opportunities to demonstrate their humanity and their depth will start from decidedly inappropriate and random elements.
Some puzzles, mostly concentrated in Goodbye Deponia, in fact, will have something grotesque, where not heavily offensive for no apparent reason. For example, after a particularly dramatic and "evolutionary" sequence for the personality of Rufus, in the middle of the game, we will find ourselves as if nothing were falling back into sexist jokes, actions that result in slavery on a black character and free verbal abuse towards minors (clearly presented as nuisances).
Fortunately, to reward us for the uncomfortable sense of guilt of similar, more or less voluntary actions, we will be offered strongly ironic sequences (like a Super Mario cameo), or with high dramatic and emotional potential (Rufus' "plan" for solve the most critical situation in the whole story), or even both (a resounding motivational speech capable of triggering applause and a chorus of approval among a crowd of 11.000 soldiers heavily insulted by a mad speaker).
Unfortunately, after having found the right narrative dimension with two endings, this pleasant but thin balance between madness, drama and irreverence, breaks right in the definitive closure of the story.
With an extremely forced chain of events, the script that leads the player to say goodbye to the world of Deponia not only leaves with a very heavy sense of dissatisfaction and bitterness in the mouth, but also adds the insult of completely removing the right to reply to the player, with two in-game gimmicks (a png that stands as a "player's voice" and the narrator himself) that cancel the user's sense of participation in the story , and relegate him to a mere spectator, brutally detaching him from that bond formed in the thirty and more hours of acquaintance with the characters.Verdict 7.5 / 10 From rags to riches and back, but lots of laughter in the middle Comment For many reviews, written in the past, I preferred to wait a few hours, the time needed to digest what I experienced on the screen and give my brain time to process events . This, however, was not the case with Deponia, for which it is advisable to immediately take stock rather than get lost in sterile reasoning that risks distorting the impact of the gaming experience. Experience that unfortunately, right at the end (intended both as an entire chapter in the trilogy and as the end of the third title), translates into a thud for a series that is nevertheless deeply wrong to consider mediocre. Not a perfect series, mind you: Deponia is not at all free from small defects, such as occasional glitches and puzzles with dubious logical sequencing and a fair tendency (from this last point of view) to progressively decrease in quality. But if the first two chapters result in a very pleasant experience, both from a narrative and audiovisual point of view, Goodbye Deponia, on the other hand, despite having the highest narrative and personal evolution moments of the whole story, is a game that is made up of moments. Many of them inappropriate, made of sudden revelations and inexplicably unable to take into account two episodes of character maturation of his characters. Even in the case of wanting to consider this as a conscious narrative choice, unfortunately, the general sense that transpires is that the trilogy was concluded with a "pulled away" chapter and a series of forcing, which not only badly marry with the general story , but so heavy as to ignore even the evidence in order to obtain a certain result. The icing on the cake is the desire at all costs to take away from the player the right to reply on the final choice with the explanation of a png, which if up to that moment was the player's voice, suddenly becomes that of the developers, as if they were certain that their closure would be heavily criticized ... Pros and Cons ✓ Ironic atmosphere worthy of the best old school graphic adventures
✓ Memorable characters
✓ High quality animation
✓ Repetitive but pleasant audio compartment x Part of the comedy lost in localization
x Quality of puzzles in slight but steady decline
x Swinging third chapter
x Extremely forced finish