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Hey, so, Deponia, right? It’s pretty OK. The first lushly drawn adventure was worth a few laughs (at least, between all the thinly veiled sexism and crudeness), and the second one, er, significantly less so. Still though, Daedalic is by no means untalented, so its new project, a dark fantasy turn-based strategy called Blackguards, definitely inspires curiosity. For better or worse, humor appears to be taking a backseat this time around, especially given that you’ll be stepping into the sullied shoes of a convicted murderer. It’s a premise that certainly could> wind its way down some fascinatingly gray trails, but there’s always the danger of venturing into grimdark-for-grimdark’s-sake territory.
It really is only three months since the first part of the Deponia trilogy was released. A German point and click adventure from Daedalic, it managed to wobble along the line of decent and frustrating, mostly making up for its biggest mistakes with some fun puzzles, decent voice acting, and a good number of laughs. So what about this time, with sequel Chaos On Deponia? Here’s wot I think:>
Released today on Steam, Daedalic Entertainment's point-and-click adventure game Edna & Harvey: Harvey's New Eyes is a gloriously twisted tale of a broken mind. Young Lilli is doing the best to survive convent life, quietly suffering banal neighbors, sadistic bullies and the even more sadistic convent leadership. Her voice is whimpers and squeaks — she's retreated so far inside herself that barely anything comes out.
Her only solace is her friend Edna, fresh from German import Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, a game about a young woman escaping from a mental institution with the help of her stuffed rabbit friend. Separated from Harvey, Edna now hides at the convent, doing her best to stay out of trouble. Her best isn't very good, unfortunately, and soon she attracts the attention of the twisted Dr. Marcel, the antagonist of the first game.
Edna enlists Lilli's aid in escaping Dr. Marcel's attention, and people die.
Not that Lilli notices. He mind replaces scenes of intense gore with pleasant pink paint being applied liberally by potato-shaped gnomes. Her heinous crimes are never acknowledged — nothing bad happens in her fractured mind.
Eventually Edna escapes and Dr. Marcel and Lilli meet, the psychiatrist utilizing his latest brainwashing technique — a repurposed Harvey — to install mental blocks in the young girl's already seriously screwed-up head. She is given a set of rules to follow. Children must obey adults. Children should not play with fire. Children should not drink alcohol.
To overcome these rules Lilli must confront the mind-weaponized Harvey within the cluttered landscape of her psyche. One-by-one she gains power over these rules, but can only turn off one at a time. These restrictions in place she wanders out into the world to rescue Edna. Just a lone little girl in a world already mad enough without her.
Edna & Harvey: Harvey's New Eyes is a delightfully dark and twisted tale. The problems that plagued the first game in the series — largely a poor translation — have been eradicated in this sequel, the dialogue sharp and witty and completely unapologetic in its humor. In the hallway of the convent hangs a picture that strongly resembles The Last Supper, only Jesus is holding the last cookie and doesn't plan on sharing it with anyone. I'm still giggling, days later.
Eventually I'll stop smiling. Maybe then I'll find myself as disturbed as I should be about this sad young girl's journey through madness.
Edna & Harvey: Harvey's New Eyes [Steam]
In a never to be repeated adventure game news roundup, I bring you trailers and release dates for two – count ‘em – two> adventure games of the pointing and clicking variety. First up is The Testament of Sherlock Holmes in which the the world’s first consulting detective goes on a murder spree. Or perhaps he doesn’t and the whole thing turns out to be an overwhelmingly obtuse setup, but the trailer would not have you believe that. It is dramatic in a way that only occurrences within the pea soupers of Old London Town can be. The second trailer is for Chaos on Deponia, second in the trilogy. John shared his thoughts on the first, concluding thusly: “I spent more time being frustrated than entertained, and perhaps too much time somewhere between the two.” Watch both trailers now.
Stranded on a world that's literally one gigantic garbage dump, the adventurous Rufus dreams of escaping his sub-lower-class life to live among the world's elite in a gleaming floating city in the clouds. He'll probably kill himself first, the idiot.
Adventure gaming fans will surely recognize the name Daedalic Entertainment, the creators of gorgeous hand-crafted games like the Edna and Harvey series and The Whispered World. In an industry where much of the big money comes from 3D blockbusters, this German developer keeps the 2D point-and-click dream alive in masterful fashion.
What traditional adventure games lack in action they make up for in character and story, and Daedalic's latest effort, the wonderfully bizarre and twisted Deponia, is a prime example. Only in a point-and-click could such a completely hopeless and hapless figure rise from mediocrity to slightly less mediocre, and nowhere else would his incredibly slow and low-to-the-ground meteoric rise be so damn entertaining.
The game begins with Rufus attempting to cobble together his latest attempt to escape the trash heap he lives on. It actually seems like an exciting place to live, but our hero's living situation isn't exactly idyllic. He's shacked up (in an actual shack) with his girlfriend Toni, a mean-spirited, chain-smoking store owner that would probably be a lot easier to live with if Rufus had some sort of job and wasn't technically her ex-boyfriend. Toni's only source of amusement is watching Rufus damage himself attempting to get away, which makes the whole situation depressingly familiar.
After gathering the usual array of convoluted adventure game equipment necessary to make his rocket escape pod launch, Rufus' rocket escape pod, of course, malfunctions, stranding him on a passing ship from the shining city of Elysium. His goal within reach, Rufus throws it all way to save a beautiful Elysian princess named Goal, and by throw it all away I mean throwing both of them off the ship, right back where he started from.
Back in the trash pile the townspeople have found the unconscious woman and men are lining up to harbor the refugee in their homes. No one believes Rufus' side of the story — he's the town's explosive and dangerous laughingstock. And so he sets about to helping Goal wake up and rescuing her from any trouble she might be in. And if that gets him a one-way ticket to the city in the sky, then so be it.
But then he goes and falls in love with her unconscious body.
The first in a planned trilogy of games that I like to think of as the Rufus Saga, Deponia is sharp, pretty and quirky-as-hell, just the way I like my point-and-clickers. The pacing is a bit off, especially considering I've spent a good couple of hours attempting to brew a simple cup of coffee-like substance, but the fact that I'm attempting to brew it via an ancient espresso machine complete with a joystick and piano keyboard makes it completely worth it.
Deponia — $19.99 [Steam]