By Marty Mulrooney
Deponia Doomsday is the fourth instalment in the Deponia trilogy developed by Daedalic Entertainment… wait a minute, come again?! That’s right! Following on from Deponia, Chaos on Deponia and Goodbye Deponia, Daedalic has surprised fans of the series around the world by releasing yet another point-and-click adventure game starring Marmite anti-hero Rufus. The ending of Goodbye Deponia (the final game of the original trilogy) seemed pretty definitive (and indeed, divisive) so… how is Goodbye Deponia even possible? Two words: time travel!
If you’ve ever played a Metal Gear Solid game (with the exception of The Phantom Pain), you’ll no doubt be able to immediately recognise the gravelly voice of David Hayter as Solid Snake. It’s the first voice you’ll hear in Deponia Doomsday, only this time it’s coming from the mouth of a grizzled, older, ‘Solid’ Rufus! It’s the first of many surprises. The trash planet of Deponia is now trapped in a nuclear winter, overrun with giant lizard monsters.
The tutorial (which can be skipped if so desired) is much more streamlined than in pervious Deponia games, simply giving direction during the opening moments. Rufus, the last man alive, must break into a derelict facility – with the occasional mini-game thrown in for good measure – before blowing up the entire planet. The end. Game over, right?
Not quite. We’re then whisked back to long before the events of the previous games – or indeed, old Rufus blowing up post-apocalyptic Deponia – happened. Rufus wakes up in a daze, vaguely remembering a crazy dream/nightmare where he met the girl of his dreams, uncovered an Organon conspiracy and saved the planet, before growing old, growing a moustache (oh, the horror!) and blowing the planet to pieces.
Being Rufus, he simply shrugs it off and starts planning his latest crazy scheme to reach Elysium, the floating city in the sky. Then Professor McChronicle – a quirky temporal scientist – turns up and accidentally messes up the space-time continuum. When he tries to fix the problem with the help of Rufus and his time machine, a mysterious pink elephant (!) turns up and thwarts their plans. It’s time to get creative!
What follows is a lengthy adventure game (15+ hours) that is very much reminiscent of the previous Deponia games… with a twist. Time travel is a major component of the plot and it factors into many of the puzzles too. Rufus being Rufus, it isn’t long before he’s made a small mess into a major catastrophe. Unless he sets everything right, the events of the previous games will never happen and Deponia will be destroyed. In some parts of the game, the player can control when time ‘rewinds’. During others, the decision is completely out of your hands.
The end result is a game that mixes the traditional point-and-click inventory-based puzzles of previous instalments with the mind-bending logic of time travel and a sprinkling of mini-games. There are also a few quick-time-events but as they’re not really ‘quick’, they’re more like ‘timed’ events that can be easily bypassed with a bit of button bashing. The mini-games are brief enough and have enough variety to not outstay their welcome.
The bread-and-butter puzzles can be somewhat obtuse during the first half of the game, a by-product of the game world itself being so crazy. Some of the solutions are pretty ‘out there’ to say the least and require the player to sometimes resort to trial and error (or an online walkthrough). Thankfully, during the second half of the game (especially towards the end) the puzzles take on a beautiful flow as the story picks up momentum. Mini-games and other distractions are forgotten and the player can simply focus on the joys of opening time portals and wreaking havoc. It’s tremendous fun!
Even more fun is revisiting locations and characters from the previous games, alongside brand new places and personalities. The vast majority of the characters are well realised and voice acted and the locations are beautifully drawn. Even better, the sometimes questionable humour of the previous games has been toned down. Rufus is still a jerk, but that’s his character and it makes his few moments of humanity all the more impactful. There are moments that some people might find offensive, but this is nowhere the tastelessness level of South Park and there doesn’t seem to be any malicious intent on behalf of the game’s creators.
Deponia Doomsday is a great sequel that nobody saw coming. Without giving away any spoilers, in terms of the overarching story it’s arguable that this latest instalment wasn’t absolutely necessary – the time travel elements are fantastic and inject a great deal of originality into the tried-and-tested Deponia formula, but they’re still essentially just a way for Daedalic to continue a story they’d already finished telling. Thankfully, it was mostly worth bending the space-time continuum for. Deponia Doomsday is a lot of fun and fans of the series will lap it up. The ending doesn’t add much to the finale of the original trilogy… but who’s to say Deponia 5 isn’t just around the corner?
8 OUT OF 10