Goodbye Deponia, the final chapter in Daedalic’s Deponia trilogy, makes a full-on effort at going out with a bang, pulling together just about everything from the first two games for a sprawling, epic grand finale. Alas, although it boasts some clever writing and genuine laugh-out-loud moments, it also suffers from a lack of focus and spots of “humor” that some players may find decidedly unfunny.
“Huzzah! He completely f*cked up!” the chorus sings midway through Goodbye Deponia, and there’s no doubt about it: This is Rufus at his most appallingly oblivious and wantonly destructive. If you’ve followed along through his previous adventures, Deponia and Chaos On Deponia, you’ll know that Rufus, the “hero” of the game, is a self-absorbed half-wit whose only talent is wreaking havoc and inflicting misery wherever he goes, while somehow emerging unscathed from the physical and psychological wreckage he leaves behind – more or less, anyway. His only goal in life is to escape the junk world of Deponia and reach the floating utopia of Elysium in the company of his new girlfriend Goal, herself an Elysian who fell to the surface thanks to Rufus’ antics, but his scheming is complicated by the planet’s looming destruction – instigated by none other than Goal’s former fiancé.
The third game in the series follows the pattern of the first two very closely, beginning with a violently slapstick opening sequence that sets the tone for Rufus’ callous disregard for anyone but himself, and then moving on to a relatively straightforward first chapter followed by an elongated middle section in the ruined city of Porta Fisco that bogs down under the weight of – and this is technically a spoiler, so read on at your peril – three Rufuses, the result of a desperate plan to save the day by cloning himself so he can literally be in three places at once.
It’s a fun idea at first, as the three equally-clueless characters clash over who’s going to be the hero, but it becomes a grind as they go their separate ways. Each of the trio has a unique mission to complete and they can be switched between at will, reflecting the simultaneous nature of their quests, but they must also sometimes interact and share inventory items. The mechanics of the shared inventory are very simple but it can be difficult to keep track of who’s doing what and when objects in the possession of one Rufus should go to another. While it’s occasionally necessary for them to be in specific locations in order to pass things around, the lack of any indication as to when this is required can be very frustrating. There’s a certain feeling of aimlessness to it as well, since all three characters spend a lot of time leaping through some very tangential hoops that can make it easy to forget what they’re supposed to be doing in the first place.
Worse, because they’re only together for a short period after their creation and then at the very end of the game, the obvious comedic potential of three virtually psychopathic ultra-Stooges is never realized. Many of the familiar faces in the supporting cast, like Doc, Bozo, Donna and even Goal, take more of a back seat in Goodbye Deponia, effectively disappearing for much of the game, while the villainous Cletus and his putative partner in crime Argus take a more central role. But that too feels like an opportunity missed, as Rufus spends most of the game dodging rather than engaging with them and neither are as lively as in the previous chapters. Cletus, who came off as a slightly thick-skulled Hans Gruber type in the first game, is much more subdued (and less entertaining) this time around, while Argus seems to drop in from nowhere and then drop out just as quickly. In fact, as the plot progresses and their motivations grow clear, they both become somewhat sympathetic characters, and while that sort of growth may be seen as good storytelling, it’s not particularly funny.
And the game is funny in spots, sometimes wildly so, but there are some potentially uncomfortable bits, too. Foremost among them is a segment in which a black woman dresses up as an organ grinder’s monkey and dances in a bid to gain her freedom from the sewers beneath the city, a moment made even more egregious by the fact that she is, as far as I noticed, the only black character in the game. That she was compelled to do so by Rufus’ unwittingly awful behavior does little to alleviate the utterly tone-deaf imagery, yet at the same time the game also makes jokes out of child abuse, child molestation, speech impediments (again) and suicide. There’s enough offensiveness to go around, in other words; at one point an infant ingests a bowl full of anti-depressants and in response, Rufus feeds him an emetic, not because he’s concerned for the baby’s welfare but because he really needs those pills. It’s packed with the kind of humor you don’t tell people you laugh at, and if that’s the sort of humor that you don’t laugh at it, this probably isn’t something you’ll want to play.
There are also times when the game takes a bit of a dark turn, and while it’s impossible to say much about the ending without spoiling it, the redemptive and not-entirely-happy twist is almost certainly not what anyone is expecting. The nature of the game leaves the door to another sequel open just a crack, but it also adds up to a conclusion that fails to satisfy and in many ways doesn’t even really fit; it’s like capping off a Wile E. Coyote marathon with an airing of Fantasia.
Goodbye Deponia is fun, but it’s a lot of work too, and the finish isn’t nearly as big as the original Deponia promised. The funny bits are genuinely good, if occasionally off-key, but they don’t come nearly fast nor furious enough, and the ending doesn’t really feel like one at all. You, like me, may well find yourself sitting through the credits waiting for a “real” conclusion that never comes.
Bottom Line: Goodbye Deponia is a perfectly serviceable adventure with some truly funny moments, but they’re broken up by too many long, drawn-out segments that add little but minutes on the clock, and the finale is more of a sudden stop than an actual conclusion. The net result is an unfocused experience that feels more like just another chapter in an ongoing series rather than the final piece of a fast-paced comic trilogy.
Recommendation: Obviously not to be missed if you played the first two parts, but Goodbye Deponia requires patience and a flexible funny bone, and if you’re lacking either you’ll likely find it’s not to your tastes.[rating=3.5]
Game: Goodbye Deponia
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Platform(s): PC, Mac OS
Available from: Amazon(US)