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Goodbye Deponia

"Goodbye Deponia succeeds as the weakest entry in the franchise, with moments that rival the best."

In its final, crumbling moments, Goodbye Deponia pulls a fast one: Rufus finally learns something. For all his endemic wrongdoings, for all the animals tortured in chemicals and circumstance, for all his egotism and vanity and high-horsing, his disrespect for human life, caution tape, and flammable objects, Rufus closes out the trilogy a changed man. Goodbye Deponia works hard to earn its closure. It claws for that character arc; so much so that it seems to forget what made these Rufian romps so cherished to begin with. "Deponia" only in name, Daedalic's final chapter to this irreverent, scrappy series lays the Rufus on thick, making for a mostly satisfying climax that doesn't always let its fascinating world shout louder than the rowdy protagonist.

The game begins clumsily where the last left off, with Rufus once again compromising the group's efforts against Cletus and the Organon. On their return voyage to Porta Fisco, the resistance fighters are left stranded upon an Organon supply route until they stumble onto the Hotel Menetekel, a precarious lodging buoyed like a rusty beehive beneath the high-rise tracks. During their stay, the appearance of Cletus kicks off an episode of who's-who switcheroo straight out of an 80s family sitcom as Rufus attempts to impersonate his rival and sneak aboard a Fisco-bound battle cruiser, nasally snark and all. And, of course, he'll succeed, but not without leaving a landfill of broken bones and platypus parts in his wake.

Goodbye Deponia is a slow, slow burn that doesn't start coasting until those Hotel Menetekel moments are finally up and done with. While the opening hours are of unfortunate inconsequence to the rest of the story, the latter half of the game spins some wickedly inventive narrative that fertilizes itself in the multi-Goal schizophrenia we saw in the preceding episode. Daedalic has taken those cloning conceits by the throat and stretched them into what is easily their most nonsensical game to date, letting the world's junkyard mentality extrapolate the what-ifs in fun, meaningful ways. The end result posits Deponia as a dumpster of random ideas full of chimeral sewer beasts, bearded babies, and characters you love, hate, and until now, know nothing about.

That last bit is critical. While Goodbye Deponia still takes place on the titular planet, inhabited by all flavors of hobos and heroes, the world as a character doesn't feel as pulpy and endearing as it did in games past. And that's not for a lack of effort. I sloshed through underground forests of pipe trunks and gasket canopies. I worshipped linens in a laundry cult. I ran French fries through an assembly line, and in turn, built God. Deponia is here. It hasn't budged. So what gives?

For better or for worse, Goodbye Deponia eschews much of its world-building laurels in favor of a deeper, more resonant look at Rufus. Who he is. Why he is. The bulk of his arc is fantastic and long-awaited, a funny, chromosomal history of the man of mayhem that was never necessary, but is totally appreciated. And because this origin story unfolds in real time, amidst the contexts of the Deponian war, the consequences are far-reaching and help etch the series with a more personal relevance for Rufus. The bummer, then, is that the narrative is all Rufus all the time, and never manages to kick the habit. On paper, that's not a bad show. No one trumps the moral derision Rufus can dish. It's why I adore him, deplorable as he is. But for every thirty dozen lines of dialogue Rufus gets to himself, equally revered characters like would-be-up-and-comer Janosch or wasteland vets like the Doc have to fight piecemeal over one. Goodbye Deponia's biggest folly is the aversion to its past. The previous episode cobbled together an amazingly capable task force of a cast. But to rob them of all their presence and purpose? A crippling choice in an otherwise grand finale. Poor Janosch — the best part of Chaos on Deponia — reduced to a two-bit cameo.

Gameplay is as by-the-books as adventure game regulars can expect, a hodgepodge of point-and-click exploration peppered by the occasional minigame that tests reflexes and brains alike. While these latter diversions never tripped my allergy for the awful, Goodbye Deponia upholds the series tradition of offering poorly-conceived instructions that rarely add clarity to the mounting misgivings. Fortunately, players may choose to opt out of these minigames without penalty (save for the impending Steam achievement, should that be their playing platform). Always mandatory, however, is the click-rific collectathon embedded in the everyday exploration. You click things. You retrieve things. You use things you retrieve to retrieve other things by clicking them. Standard stuff by any stretch. But with this being Deponia, "put the crank in the divot to open the gate" is maniacally replaced with "put the urinal tablet on the pie to make him sick." Fisher Price holds no authority in this land; you will stick triangular pegs into circular holes, and bow to this new master of thought. Should you refrain, then grab a seat, because you ain't moving.

The Deponia series is so galvanized in its own creativity that it becomes easy to forgive the heady narcissism with which it crafts puzzles. Which is good, because Goodbye Deponia will never apologize. It will never submit. It's stubborn and crude and, at times, at fault for itself. There were plenty of moments where even illogic left me stranded on an island with seemingly no escape as I swaddled my screwdrivers and ink bottles and folding chairs with dwindling optimism that maybe, just maybe, this next click would reap rewards. I've always been an advocate for Deponia's brand of this-doesn't-make-sense-but-who-cares, because when push came to shove, players could always fall back on hamfisting the solution.

But then I hit that proverbial wall.

Nothing I did was working. Nothing I clicked on was new. I spent hours using this thing on that, going through my checklist of possibilities. And when that didn't work, I systematically put Rufus through the wringer. Every item. Every NPC. Every combination. This click led to that click led to me exhausting all options I had available. Each and every one.

So I started from the beginning. Fresh save. Tabula rusta. Car part diem, as they say. The thing with Goodbye Deponia is that it's one heck of a glitchy gulch, so starting from scratch sort of made sense. The audio is buggy, voice overs don't match with the written dialogue, walking animations hitch up and send Rufus sliding across the floor like a greased-up statue. And the typos... oh, the typos! Daedalic's quality control has been stripped straight from the junkyard on this one, enough to make me question the integrity of its gameplay. Unfortunate, that.

The issue was silly: I wasn't standing on a specific part of the map when attempting to talk to someone. No puzzle. No pretense. No kidding.

From that moment on, I took in the rest of Goodbye Deponia in a silent stupor, enjoying it for what it is while questioning it all the same. I wondered why, after three games, there was still no hint system to ease those aforementioned oddities, to let Rufus ramble on just a little bit longer like I knew, with absolution, he wanted to. I wondered why a game so well-written, so witty and taut and jammed with lovable bullshit, could exist with all those misspellings and coffee stains. I wondered what Janosch was up to.

Goodbye Deponia succeeds as the weakest entry in the franchise, with moments that rival the best. In many ways, this third entry has taken some tumbles, with neither puzzles nor characters as imaginative and challenging as the watermark left by its predecessor. It is, however, a bombastic, shrapneled farewell to a secular hero and his hand-me-down home. For the laughs, lechery, and merciless contempt toward platypi, I too say goodbye to you.

Sing us out, banjo man.

Huzzah, good things come in threes.


© 2013 Daedalic Entertainment. All rights reserved.




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