Review by Guest Editor: Luce
Having never played a Deponia game before, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. 10 hours of time looping nonsense later, rather unfortunately, I still wish I didn’t.
Deponia Doomsday follows the entirely unlikable lead character Rufus, as he self-narrates his way through time and space. Along the way he runs into a fairly large cast of characters, that range from the rather funny Nilbot (Chillbot, Killbot, Illbot), to the frankly offensive Manly-man-turned-manly-forced-transwoman Lotto (later Lotti). Confused by that description? Don’t worry, I’ll come back to it.
The game itself is a rather typical point and click game, with a briefly novel twist: you can turn back time, kind of. Any time you screw something up, instead of being forced to load an old save, or being stuck with a game over, time turns back to one of a number of predetermined points that let you do things over. And while this works for a while, after a few loops, it starts to feel very repetitive. Thankfully any conversation is easy enough to skip after the 3rd or 4th time hearing it, and most puzzles aren’t too hard to figure out, but as is the nature of point and click adventures, invariably there will be puzzles that will leave you stuck for long periods of time.
Something to take note of is that the game features a number of minigames and puzzles that are skippable. I highly recommend you skip them. Like many of the loops in this game, they are pointless, and more than any other part of the game, are just not fun to play.
Easily the best part of the game is how it looks. With a hand drawn animation look, the whole game is visually quite appealing. The backdrops are varied and interesting, and the character designs by and large are very nice. The main drawback, at least in my experience, was an unsteady framerate. I admittedly have a very poor PC, but even then I shut down everything other than steam while playing this game and only rarely did I manage to get a steady 30FPS.
The audio as well was, for the most part, quite enjoyable. The cast overall was well picked, and aside from a few characters, they were fun to listen to (again, props to Nilbot, easily the funniest part of the game for me). Again though, the downsides were there. Rufus, the jackass that he is, was very hard to listen to for the whole game. He was very rarely funny, and almost entirely a jerk. Half the words out of his mouth were insults, and while a character written this way can often become a favourite, they often are side characters, because as protagonists, they come off as unlikable.
Before I sign off from this review, I want to go back to Lotti/Lotto. As a very early part of the story, this set a very poor precedent for the rest of the game. This is the only scene in the game I will be describing in detail, as I don’t want to spoil anything, but I think this scene needs to be talked about. It opens with Toni, Rufus’ girlfriend, sitting at the bar waiting for Rufus to finish packing and come pick her up, while Lotto sits at a table. Lotto is a large, hairy redhead of a man, with a full beard, and wearing a red plaid shirt. In other words, the stereotypical manly Canadian Lumberjack (a point that he brings up himself). He quickly gets into an argument with Toni, claiming that he doesn’t know what she sees in Rufus, commenting “Is he even a man?” and later in the fight “You’re more likely to see me in a dress!”.
After a few more prods from Lotto, the scene cuts to Rufus entering the hallway that holds the bar, and after a quip, the screen shakes and punching noises are heard, before out the door comes Lotto, his beard gone, lipstick on, wearing a dress and clutching his crotch. He then falls down the ramp, before curling into the foetal position beside the entrance to the bar, tears in his eyes. From then on, he insists on being called Lotti (quick note, as a transfeminine person myself, I have no issues with this insistence, if it wasn’t so clearly something being forced on him by the threat of violence), and attempts to speak with a traditionally “feminine” voice, which constantly cracks back to his natural, deep, stereotypically manly one. From then on, all Rufus’ interaction with Lotto are all about making him more traditionally “feminine”, including pointing out he has no bust, that his voice is “too masculine” and that he’s “too hairy”, encouraging him to shave (painfully) and when that doesn’t work, giving him a big glob of wax to use on his legs. I’m sure to the developers, and to many players, this just comes across as a joke, but to me, and certainly others, it just comes off as insensitive. It’s unfortunately another example of a piece of media making trans people the butt of a joke, and a very poor one at that.
So, after all that, do I recommend Deponia Doomsday? I’m afraid not. If you were a fan of the original Deponia trilogy, perhaps this will be more to your liking than it was to mine, but for anyone else, I think you’d be better spending your time and money elsewhere.