Often when you attend a preview session at somewhere like Gamescom, whoever is demoing the game has been doing so solidly for the past couple of days, with the end not yet in sight. So it’s normal for whoever is presenting the game to just go through the motions and tell you what you need to know. It is not normal to go into the room and have the lead designer of a game, a couple of days into a show, to stand in excitement at your arrival and vigorously shake your hand with a huge smile on their face, ready to launch into one of the most love-driven presentations you have ever witnessed. Deponia creator Jan Müller-Michaelis did just that this year, showing off the latest title in the series: Goodbye Deponia.
The 2D point and click title continues from where the series left off, with the cocksure steampunk protagonist Rufus getting to Elysium so he can save the world of Deponia from destruction. As a newcomer to the series it is a slight uphill struggle to know what exactly is going on, being thrust straight into a scene with unintroduced characters, but the game helps this through music. Jan has inserted himself into the game as a storyteller, occasionally popping up to sing a song about what is happening. At Gamescom he called it an egotistical move, which links into those in charge of Elysium.
The tone of Goodbye Deponia is straight on comedic – each scene demoed for us and played in the preview code bursts with funny lines, characters and situations. From very early on when Rufus plays up to a fan who is watching him get out of a situation, to meeting a man dressed as a ghost in a sheet watching people sing in the shower via a peep hole; “This is where the sheet hits the fan”. Puzzles are obviously a part of the game, with it’s point and click nature, but in these early stages they seemingly take a back pedal to allow for these comedic touches to be at the forefront and really get you invested with these well rounded characters.
One of the moments that sold me completely on the game was presented to us at Gamescom. Whilst in a sewer system, two creatures are talking with the one revealing that he has become vegetarian and how difficult it is. After slight mocking and being left alone, Rufus comes in with characters he has to protect. Where does this genius mind decide to put them? Right in the mouth of the monster, so it would be somewhere warm and dry for them to wait. Each time Rufus returned with another person, the creature would be at the point of cracking more and more, with people getting suspicious that it isn’t a cave that they’re sat in – what with the big set of teeth.
For fans of point and click titles like Broken Sword and Monkey Island, Goodbye Deponia is a complete no brainer. It’s a well balanced point and click with the exact right balance of puzzles and humour, without hitting either of them over your head. Thanks to its amazing hand-drawn graphic style, it also looks amazing whilst you play. It also adds very small puzzles duringg more cinematic scenes, such as needing to jump onto a signal relay whilst on the side of a moving train, or tightening nuts with the whole shot moving much like an animated film.
As Jan kept raving about the nuances he and his team had put into the game, our time was up with him still having a huge smile on his face and his PR manager reiterating that he needs to cut down the time so they don’t run over on appointments. But when you’ve got passion like Jan obviously does, both through how he acts when speaking of the game and through what he’s created, that is a hard thing to do.
Goodbye Deponia releases on October 17th on Steam for PC and Mac.