Review: Rufus is back to his old shenanigans in Daedalic Entertainment’s CHAOS ON DEPONIA, but this time there are much larger things at stake. Will the game burn like a bright candle in your heart or will it engulf you in flames like everything Rufus ever does?
If you make a girl lose her memory through some freak accident once, that’s a shame. If you do it twice, that’s downright impressive. The sequel to Deponia, Chaos on Deponia, begins much like the first game did: with disaster. Once again, the point-and-click lets you play as the useless Rufus, enemy to logic and friend to instant combustion. The game quickly takes you through the recent events that placed Rufus in his current predicament, glossing over the first game, introducing the evil Organons, and setting up the imminent destruction of the world in the first five minutes.
Through an accident involving explosives and a giant saw-blade, Rufus crashes into a vessel carrying the lovely Goal and her questionable fiancé Cletus. Cletus is sent careening into the fortress of the evil Organons, while Goal and Rufus wake up to find themselves aboard the floating black market. Getting knocked about messes with Goal’s brain implant, and the surgery to recover her memory ends up splitting her into three different personalities. Now it’s up to Rufus to rejoin Goal, fix her brain (again), and save the world.
Save the world? Where did that come from? Apparently the Organons are planning to destroy the planet of Deponia, for reasons unstated. And Goal is more than just a pretty girl in need: she carries the coordinates for the safe travel to Elysium, which is an important thing to have, though I’m not sure why. The main story is told so quickly that these important details are either left out, or mentioned with so little emphasis that I missed them entirely.
Regardless of my grasp on the big picture, the environments of Chaos on Deponia are nice, smaller pictures to explore. The floating black market has its fair share of colourful characters, including a dwarf who lives inside the tavern jukebox and a gondolier who only knows one song. At certain times the central marketplace fills with spectators for the sport of platypus duelling, and if you plan on using the bathroom in the pub, don’t forget to sign the waiver and bring the wolf repellent.
Welcome to Chaos
It’s easy to get around in the black market thanks to clearly labelled arrows and handy maps that instantly take you to different areas. Walking around is a must first, though, since there’s plenty to see while you’re here. In fact there’s so much to see that it’s easy to get sidetracked from what you’re actually supposed to be doing and just explore what mischief you can cause. The doctor needs special tools for Goal’s brain surgery? Sure, I’ll get to that, but first let me try to get a volatile cucumber from the blind apothecary because why not?
If you give into the temptation to explore everything aimlessly first like I did, some of the puzzles don’t feel like puzzles. You might throw some sugar into a generator just because someone mentioned that this is a bad idea, not because you’re trying to achieve anything specific. But once you actually start following the story, the game does fall into a few frustrating point-and-click trappings. You can usually see what you’re trying to achieve, but the how can be a lengthy process that isn’t always immediately obvious. There are also a few needless barriers just for the sake of the puzzle. Uniting Goal needs the permission of all three of her personalities first, for instance, because the Doc won’t operate on her otherwise.
But by far the most frustrating aspect of Chaos on Deponia is Rufus himself. Rufus is not a hero. He’s not even qualified to be an anti-hero. The first game had me disliking him, but the sequel made me downright despise him. In the first instalment, Rufus is introduced as a self-absorbed, accident-prone, and highly flammable moocher. Since then he’s added a few new tricks to his repertoire, including a complete disregard of others’ well-being and a penchant for animal abuse. It seems that over the course of the first game, Rufus learned a total of absolutely nothing.
Where before you felt some pity for the poor shmuck, his only redeeming quality this time around is the fact that his stupidity is so ridiculously amusing. Chaos on Deponia is full of laughs, but the parts that got the biggest chuckles from me were the ones where Rufus was electrocuted, set on fire, beaten up, or generally made an ass of by his own idiocy. And I’m not even a sadistic person.
Love him or hate him, though, Rufus does have an undeniable charm, as does the entire game. Chaos on Deponia has a beautiful style, smooth animations, and plenty of ridiculous situations and characters. If you’re happy just exploring, clicking around, and giggling at the sheer lunacy that takes place before you, it’s a great point-and-click adventure. But if you’re after something a little more involving, you may want to look elsewhere.
Chaos on Deponia, from Daedalic Entertainment, is out now for PC.