Wow... Just finished the game. Just wow...
This game has been tormenting me to finish it from the moment I started playing. I'm not a huge fan of point-and-click adventure games, only because I don't have much experience with them. I've maybe played a few scenes of "The Secret of Monkey Island," and I finished the first installment of The Fall. But that's it. So buying this game on sale was sort of my way of trying something new, so take that into consideration.
Well ok then, on to the review.THE GOOD:The Art & Sound
The look of the game is phenomenal. It's got a great style and has lots of detail. The music and voice acting are pretty good in my opinion. Most of the music is fairly catchy and atmospheric. The voice talent did a great job, too.Great Characters and Setting
I really enjoyed the setting and the depth of the characters right away. Whoever was in charge of character development and scripting did a truly phenomenal job! It really added to the overall level of immersion... which brings me to another great point.Immersive and Thought Provoking Story
From the moment I started playing I was immediately sucked into the world of Deponia: I wanted to know who these people were, who Rufus was and why and how he was trying to get out. This was why I bought the game in the first place: to hear a great story. And the game was certainly great and dramatic and philosophical in its places. And it was the game's great writing that kept me coming back to find out what happens... even when its puzzles frustrated me into a blind rage almost every time I played! Speaking of frustrating...THE BADUser Interface
So, I'm not an expert in Point-and-Click type games, but my experience with the UI was incredibly frustrating. The issue I ran into repeatedly was sometimes you could interact with an item from across the map and Rufus would just walk over to it and use it. Other times the item map would say there's an item I could interact with, but I couldn't actually interact with it until I transitioned (via some other item) into a certain area of the scene. It was a little issue, but it cropped up everywhere. And when you're desperate to use your item inventory on *something* and the game doesn't give you the hint to move over a few inches, it really starts to wear on your nerves. The Puzzles
Because they were such a HUGE annoyance, I break them down into 3 categories:
HOLY CRAP the INSANITY! 5 minutes into he game I groaned as I had to find a way to 'lure' my suddenly animated toothbrush out of a dark hole it was hiding it. WTF am I supposed to do with that? I get that I'm new to Point&Click games, but seriously? What sort of logic am I supposed to use to find the answers to these puzzles when they're this absurd? I guess they were supposed to be funny, but when you've been running in circles for an hour looking for an answer, the laughter dries up fast.
Often times I found I had to use an object for something completely other than it's typically intended function. Again, earlier in the game there was a loose plank of wood I had to remove, and despite the fact that I had several different objects that would be good for prying it loose, I needed one specific item that one would not normally think to use. There were several times where I was stymied because, despite there was some straightforward problem in front of me and I was fully equipped to deal with it (say, opening a car door?) I had to hunt around for a different item or trigger some obscure chain of events in order to beat it. Which leads me to...
[::Pointless Puzzles and Auto-Fail Puzzles::]
Sometimes you'd go through a total nightmare trying to solve a particular puzzle, only once you finally complete it, the puzzle wasn't narratively important to the story. Or that you failed anyway (despite finishing the puzzle in the game) and are forced to deal with the following consequences. It really undercut the feeling of agency in the game, making it seem like you're just going through the motions until you can get the next snippet of plot.
Which segues perfectly into the next section.THE UGLYRufus the Sociopath
I hated playing as Rufus. Not only do I not like playing as a callous @$$h013, but it actually made the first chapter of the game seem more difficult to complete because no one trusted you. And while I'm sure that was the intent for story purposes and to facilitate creative puzzle solving, it really made it hard to sympathize with the main character. This trend continued for the majority of the game as you single handled use, abuse and sell out all the other characters around you to get what you want. And just when you think he'll change, he doesn't. But only because the script said so. Dialogue
Dialogue in the game is fairly useless. It sometimes informed you about the setting, but most of the time it was a means of explaining (in the vaguest terms) how to solve a puzzle or a sad attempt at humor. And don't be fooled by the different "moral" dialogue options. There were SO MANY times I tried to make a different choice, but be assured; there is only ever one choice.Rail-Roading
The player is given a lot of “choice” as to how they may proceed, what moral choices they might make or what things they might say. These are all red herrings. There is only ever one way: the Game's Way. This holds true for dialogue, for puzzles and especially for the ending. This was particularly frustrating to me as I have been raised on such RPG games as Fallout, Elderscrolls, Bioshock, Deus Ex... games where choices mean something.
And don't get me wrong, I don't mind games that lead you by the nose... but typically those games don't give you options when none exist. So the experience of being given a screenful of dialogue choices (typically at least 6 or 7) where there was only one choice that allowed the game to progress was excruciating. This was also the case for many puzzles. Sometimes a puzzle could have been solved by brute force, or creative use of an inventory item you already had. But unless it was *that kind of puzzle*
you were forced to keep doing things until you found the way the game had intended you to beat the puzzle. SO FRUSTRATING.The Ending
I'm not going to say much for respect for spoilers, but it really did leave a sour taste in my mouth. Under other circumstances the ending would have been fine. As I said earlier, there was a lot of great writing that went into the game. A lot of the circumstances had a great moral tension to them. And one of the key driving forces of the game is watching your efforts unfold and hoping that they'll be enough to ensure success.
But because of the Rail-Roading that's prevalent throughout the entire game, the ending doesn't feel like the consequence of an action or choice... I'm merely along for the ride, listening to the story someone wrote, despite the fact that I have been fed the illusion that I have a choice. So the ending felt wrong, only because I wasn’t free to choose it. Like everything else, it just happened that way.
Overall, it has all the seeming of an epic game with multiple endings, but it isn't. The storyline is as linear as the frustrating gameplay.