If the ending of Deponia was any indication, a sequel was sure to come. Surprisingly, however, it’s only 3 months later and Chaos on Deponia has arrived. Developer Daedalic Entertainment wasted no time in releasing the “dark middle chapter” (Daedalic’s words) of Deponia’s 3-part saga. Continuing in the tradition of its predecessor, Chaos on Deponia is a classic 2D point-and-click adventure set amid a beautifully rendered, trash-strewn world.
The player is back in the role of the unlovable anti-hero protagonist, Rufus. For anyone who decides to jump right in and skip the first game in the series altogether, the audience is provided with a fairly comprehensive, and humorous, recap of Deponia. The game starts with Rufus attempting, once again, to escape the wastelands of Deponia for the utopian floating city of Elysium. After a sequence of puzzles that is bound to upset someone at PETA, our hero winds up in a deadly, Rube Goldberg-esque contraption of his own design that was created to launch him back towards Elysium. Much like everything else with Rufus, this doesn’t go exactly according to plan.
Many of the original, colorful cast of characters returns for the second chapter of this quirky adventure-love story. The player is immediately and awkwardly (for Rufus) reintroduced to Goal, the love interest and heroine of the game, followed closely by Rufus’ arch nemesis, Cletus. Many familiar Deponian faces return to help or hold back the protagonist, and some interesting new characters are thrown into the mix. Our heroes’ mission is to, once again, save Deponia from imminent destruction at the hands of the evil Organon. All this while dealing with Goal’s buggy memory chips that have left her with a 3-way split personality.
The second act of most trilogies, like the gooey, cheese-slathered meat in a great Philly cheesesteak, tend to be the best part. The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, and Troll 2 are great examples of that gooey, cheese-slathered meat. There is still one more installment in the Deponia saga before any parallel conclusions can be drawn. However, Chaos on Deponia has taken a step up, story-wise, and manages to be even funnier than its predecessor.
As a typical 2D point-and-click, gameplay controls of Chaos on Deponia are virtually the same as the first game. Strangely enough, Daedalic also chose to include a tutorial in this game. Recognizing the superfluous nature of the tutorial, the characters engage in witty banter that is essentially designed to make fun of themselves while tricking the player into going through the motions–it works.
One of the more frustrating aspects of the first Deponia were the several puzzles that stepped a little too far outside the realm of logic. While it added to the game’s charm and nostalgia, it made certain points almost impossible to pass without some outside help. Chaos on Deponia improves on this point a great deal. It manages to keep the puzzles challenging without making the player resort to walkthroughs or pulling their hair out. One of the more exciting aspect of the series is their inclusion of mini-games and puzzles that helps break up the standard formula of picking up items, possibly combining, then using them. Though some of the mini-games can be hit-or-miss, for the most part Chaos on Deponia doesn’t disappoint.
Following only a few months after the release of Deponia, Chaos on Deponia hasn’t taken much of a leap, or even a step forward, in the graphics department. That’s fine, however, since both games are filled with gorgeously hand-drawn backgrounds and great animation. It would’ve been easy (and boring) to recycle artwork from the previous game, but thankfully Chaos on Deponia explores new areas of the planet, like the expansive floating black market. Additionally, the gamer is treated to a wealth of cut scenes, including an intro that splices in a chuckle-worthy live-action Rufus.
Sound is another area that the first game left little room for improvement. The excellent voice cast has been brought back for the second installment. The great, folksy, Germanic-accented musical number again helps us transition through the world of Deponia. The sound effects are top-notch, but the Organon are still as crackly and distorted as before–a minor gripe, as their speech seems a bit more audible this time around. The soundtrack throughout the game couldn’t be more appropriate or well-done for the genre. It adds the perfect amount of atmosphere for puzzling without being distracting.
Chaos on Deponia is a great 2D point-and-click adventure game nod to the classic LucasArts mold. It took what Deponia started, then improved on it. The minor bugs and frustrations of the first game are all but eliminated. It’s not entirely necessary to play the first to enjoy this second installment; however, it would be recommended for those who are more story-driven players. Great graphics, an intriguing plot, and excellent overall production values make Chaos on Deponia an adventure gaming gem that any fan of the genre will enjoy.