This review contains minor story spoilers relating to the first two chapters.
Is it time to bid Deponia a fond farewell already? Not so fast! Though the main menu has a “now leaving Deponia” message splashed across the screen near the start of Goodbye Deponia, there's one last engaging adventure remaining for series veterans on this garbage-strewn planet.
As in the first two games of Daedalic's comic trilogy, the finale's story focuses on Rufus, a malcontent inventor who seldom lets reality taint his sky-high ambitions. Rufus is imaginative, reckless and wholly self-centered. “Winging it” is his trademark and he knows just enough to make an awful mess of things. Most of the people around him are simply hoping to survive him. The player’s enjoyment of the Deponia series is largely based on your reaction to Rufus – i.e., whether you find his behavior amusingly provocative or shockingly aggravating. Personally, I find Rufus's antics quite entertaining, if sometimes atrocious.
Once again, Rufus plans to use his friendship with Goal – an aristocratic young woman from Elysium, a floating city far above the planet surface – to finally bid Deponia adieu. As a parting gift, convincing the Elysians to abandon their plan to blow up the planet would also be nice. The plot resumes shortly after the end sequence in the second game, Chaos on Deponia. (The story’s ongoing complexity definitely warrants playing the first two games before attempting this one.) Rufus, Goal, Bozo (a fisherman), and Doc (a scientist) are on a coastal cutter heading toward Porta Fisco, where the last highboat to Elysium will soon depart. Rufus thinks he has found a shortcut to their destination, but of course it ends up being a detour.
Overall, the writing has improved since Chaos. Dialogs in Goodbye are snappier, and I laughed a lot more. You can click through these conversations, though the voiceovers are so good that I rarely did. As in the previous Deponia games, the script contain dollops of toilet humor, some sexual innuendo, and a few incidents of deplorable taste. One example is a woman dancing half naked in public as a substitute for an organ grinder’s monkey. (This is not a game for children.) You must access all the dialogs to ensure progress, and you may have to re-access some of them, as essential new choices occasionally appear under old dialog trees.
Like its predecessors, Goodbye Deponia fits snugly into the tradition of classic third-person, LucasArts-style comedic adventures. It features colorful, cartoon-like 2D graphics which create a quirky yet believable world. Everything on Deponia is worn-out, blotchy, and piecemeal (picture a world constructed entirely from dumpster diving). In the interiors, curtains are bedraggled, cardboard is littered everywhere, and congealed substances ornament the walls. The exterior cityscapes display acrid yellow skies, buildings with gaping holes, and jagged metal debris.
In a game with more realistic graphics, this dystopian setting would be dark and depressing, but the stylized graphics in Deponia instead exude an atmosphere of quixotic make-doism. Some of the scenes aim to trigger a double-take moment, where, if you look closely, the rough end of a beam looks like a face, giant legs are spread out across a hotel floor, and a water tap resembles a skull. In a doff-of-the-hat to Chaos, duckbilled platypus shapes roost in the rooms, with their nascent offspring hidden in the background.
Goodbye’s locations are more varied than in the previous games, including a hotel at the end of the world, a trooper ship with mazelike corridors, an enigmatic cloning facility, and a battle-worn city. Small animations enliven every scene, such as water rippling, bugs crawling, animals stalking, and lights flashing. Several brief but well-animated cutscenes offer a closer look at the main characters in action and can be replayed to further enjoy the agony, the idiocy, and even some uptown dance moves.
The game’s point-and-click interface is streamlined and easy to use: left-click to initiate conversations and interact with objects, right-click to hear descriptions. Items can be viewed and combined in the inventory, which is accessible via the mouse wheel or by an optional on-screen button. The spacebar highlights all hotspots. You have unlimited saves and can save your game anytime except during cutscenes and self-contained puzzles.
Also in the LucasArts tradition, Goodbye presents an assortment of zany challenges. The difficulty ramps up slowly at first, and eases at the end of the game. This is the pacing that story-heavy games ought to follow – giving the gamer time to become acquainted with the interface and the characters, offering significant challenge in the middle, and then letting the story flow near the end, unencumbered by the risk of getting stuck on a puzzle just as all is about to be revealed.
The bulk of gameplay involves inventory and dialog puzzles, which are often clever, sometimes thoroughly logical and other times quite whimsical. One example is the Rorschach quest triggered by a snooty psychologist who won’t give Rufus the medication he wants (supposedly due to Rufus’s lack of seriousness – the nerve!). The quest is an ongoing puzzle woven between other challenges and requires multiple steps; it held me up for quite some time because it employs one interaction that is bizarre. Further challenges arise when Rufus manages to clone himself into three parts, and his various iterations must cooperate. Two of the Rufuses (Rufi?) can exchange inventory items. A new interface near the bottom of the screen allows you to switch between the three Rufi and pass items between two of them at will.
Several minigame-style puzzles with a slightly different interface occur at key moments in the story, ranging in difficulty from easy to dastardly. My favorite was the laundry room challenge, where Rufus encounters hooded cult worshippers and must arrange the wash and dry cycle to spit out the right disguise. I also relished the tone-matching puzzle, aided by a handy bouncing ball above the musical staff. You can skip this puzzle if you’re tone deaf or haven’t had the benefit/torture of years of music lessons. In fact, you can skip any of the self-contained puzzles if you feel hopelessly stuck.Continued on the next page...