October 27, 2013
If you've made it this far in following the trilogy, you’ll know exactly what to expect with this latest installment. Missing out on the previous two games may put you as some disadvantage given the references thrown around, but it doesn't take long to feel that this is without consequence as the story is quite self-contained.
Still, it should be noted that the writing appeals to a certain type of individual and you’ll find yourself skimming through the written text for important information. Conversing with people, which unfortunately also extends to observing objects, is an act that can make one apprehensive as the writers have tried overtly hard to always integrate the use of "humor" in every spoken sentence. This causes every conversation to be a drawn out experience and every now and then you might find yourself begging not to have to talk to anyone.
Often at times, Goodbye Deponia feels like a mental endurance test even for the most seasoned of point-and-click veterans. And that’s not because of the puzzles, it’s often because of how the writing is structured. Perhaps at its worst moment, the story shatters its plot into segments (yes 'shatter', to use the word 'divide' would imply a semblance of structure). Half the time, one can easily forget what the over-arching story is and why you're made to do whatever it is in order to advance.
This is also due in part to how each plot point is made into puzzles. Most of the challenges faced involve combining objects to get from one obstacle to the next. Difficulty is not the issue here, again, it's a matter of mental endurance as you try to make sense of what goes here and there and figuring things out.
Finally solving a challenge does bring out some sense of enjoyment through pattings of the back. Novices of point-and-clicks however may find themselves sitting at a puzzle for hours with no hint button in sight and at times, there’s no real common sense as to why what you did worked. It should be pointed out that there is actually a hint button, but it only appears during certain special puzzles called 'mini-games'. Quite a few of these seem nonsensical and obtuse (examples include pretending to be someone's reflection and mimicking their toothbrush strokes, or emulating a Benny Hill interconnecting-doors chase scene), few others come with bugs and they just so happen to be the ones that have the best quality. All mini-games have the option to skip them completely with no negative impact which tends to beg the question of 'what the hell was the point?' It’s like they knew that a section of the audience just wouldn’t be interested.
Poor choices in gameplay and narrative results in a pacing that is dry and irregular, and your "reward" for making it to the next plot point is a somewhat dubiously translated (from original German) sing-a-long.
It can be seen as a shame that these features just fail to impress, because the artwork punches well above its weight and in many ways, it just seems altogether wasted on the one dimensional characters and a world that doesn’t seem to have any conceivable reason as to why you’d want to save it.
Goodbye Deponia, or rather the Deponia Trilogy, struggles to stand at eye level with the likes of today's modern point-and-clicks such as the works of Wadjet Eye and even the non-profit indie titles. What Deponia serves to be is a bit of a mess that exemplifies how disregarding even a good bit of writing can make an experience go from enjoyable, to quite the opposite. The art seems squandered in a game where characters have zero attachment, gameplay is offered as something you can skip, and a story that doesn't take itself seriously to the point where it encourages the same from its audience.
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