“Deponia” is actually the first of a series, with the main title hitting Nintendo Switch on April 24, 2019 for $39.99.
The game opens in a future where the world is a trash heap wasteland. Houses are stacked on piles of rubble and each other. Neighbors are clothed in a mish-mash of steampunk-inspired gear, scarves and open trench coats. The water is contaminated sludge. And you play an idiot wallowing through the mess.
The setting for “Deponia” is one of my favorites in fiction, and this game felt like the lovechild of Pajama Sam and Borderlands.
The art style was full of clean lines and intriguing details that felt painted, like a polished graphic novel. Even for a point-and-click adventure, there was always something catching my eye while exploring, and each shift to a cutscene felt nearly seamless.
The game takes the player through a small map of puzzles and character interactions that build the story of the town Deponia—a neighborhood of sarcastic and bemused characters who can’t stand the protagonist, Rufus.
Rufus is a screw-up. He’s spent most of his adult life doing everything wrong, with the least amount of effort he can get away with. When the story begins, he’s packing his bags to escape Deponia for a place called Elysium. By the name and desire alone, it’s clear there is something drawing him there, such as the idea of a Utopian society beyond the trash he lives among now.
When we meet Rufus, he is building an escape pod to get out of town. Thus begins the first chapter of Rufus’ story.
It’s interesting playing an idiot and not a heroic main character for once. This dynamic plays into the amount of creativity I needed in order to get through some of the story. The puzzles were pretty straightforward and expected for this type of game, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit I had to look up a walkthrough for a couple of them.
“Deponia” gives the player a lot of creative freedom in how to solve puzzles and what to do with the items collected. Once I was thinking like Rufus, I had a better idea of what he wanted me to do, but there were still some moments that weren’t completely obvious to me.
Other than sending me into a spiral of “Am I dumber than Rufus?” each time I struggled with a puzzle, once I did figure out the answer, it was worth it.
If I can caution anyone, I would recommend saving after every other puzzle you solve to avoid hitches in the story because you did something backwards.
I missed the chance to use a blow-dart gun on Toni (by combining the funnel, dart and tranquilizer), and because I chose not to do this one sequence, Rufus acted as though he didn’t know how to use the funnel later. This may be a bug, or perhaps Daedalic Entertainment didn’t expect me to play the game in the sequence of events I had. Either way, the blow-dart gun wasn’t an obvious combination from those three objects for me, but after looking it up it all came together.
Nearly everything about this game left me chuckling and saying, “Of course Rufus would do that. Of course.” And that’s his charm. His neighbors may want him gone, but you can tell he’s not been kicked out of town yet because he’s a source of ridiculous entertainment. Even if it’s at his expense.
The world of Deponia is something I want to see more, and I can’t wait to check out the rest of the series when I get the chance.