Chaos on Deponia (or 'Deponia 2' if you prefer) is one of the speediest game sequels of all time, arriving just four months after we reviewed the first Deponia (a point n’ click cartoon adventure that blends silly humour with surreal puzzles). Now planned as a trilogy, ‘Chaos on Deponia’ is that difficult second title in the series, attempting to build on events from the first game while setting up an almighty climax for the third and final game. But does it succeed as a stand-alone title as well as a sequel?
Back to Deponia
Events from the first Deponia are neatly covered in a quick flashback intro, but to be honest it’s rather unnecessary. If you haven’t played the first game yet we’d recommend picking it up before this one, and if you have played it, chances are it’s still pretty fresh in your memory. Unless you’ve mysteriously woken up on a beach with total amnesia, like so many adventure game protagonists (this often happens to us after the infamous Game Debate jaegerbomb and vindaloo sessions).
Rufus is once again attempting to flee Deponia for Elysium, a far-off world of wonder where his golden-haired love interest Goal resides. As with the first game, his escape involves a hideously dangerous contraption that's more likely to separate him into tiny, meaty chunks than actually get him off-planet. We steered Rufus through two hilariously slapstick scenes involving an unfortunate parrot and a near-decapitation before his escape vessel - an enormous saw blade combined with some rather powerful fireworks - launched skywards. So far, so familiar.
The parallels with the first game don’t end there, as once again Rufus’ escape attempt ends with him back on Deponia (albeit an all-new area) with an unconscious Goal in tow. With some help from the Doc you bring her back, but all is not well. Thanks to another healthy dose of Rufus-shaped stupidity, Goal’s personality has fragmented into three very disparate parts, and it’s up to you to win over all three of them and merge them into a glorious whole.
Puzzles, we got 'em
After the funny off-the-wall intro, you’re dumped in a rather large city with its own industrial park, retail area and docks, and tasked with returning Goal to her beautiful whole self. We don’t want to give away too much, but this involves winning over each fragment over her personality in vastly different ways. You can explore almost the entire city upon arrival and access each of Goal’s three personalities at any time, which makes Chaos on Deponia feel refreshingly non-linear, but is also a little overwhelming at first as you learn your way around.
Most of the brain-ticklers involve grabbing items from around the town and using them in the correct place, a staple of the adventure game genre. We rarely found ourselves stumped despite the lateral approach to some puzzles and the huge inventory of items, thanks to a gentle difficulty level. If you do find yourself stuck, you can get plenty of little hints by talking with characters or even listening to Rufus’ off-the-wall comments and observations. Chaos on Deponia is even nice enough to let you skip the little mini-games that occasionally crop up, but why wouldn't you want to get stuck into a Gladiators Duel-style battle where you fight against a giant platypus?
Crazier than a box of squirrels
So yeah, Chaos on Deponia is once again madder than a barrel of wombats, but that - along with the cer-razy humour - is all part of Deponia’s appeal. The world is once again cartoonish, colourful and silly, from the nose sensor that determines who can enter the posh district to the flag that flies half-mast upon the insertion of human ashes. We’re reminded of games such as Monkey Island and Sam & Max Hit The Road, as the surreal overtones mean you never know what to expect next.
We're big fans of cartoon adventure game graphics ever since Curse of Monkey Island wowed us with its lush hand-drawn visuals, and Chaos on Deponia doesn't disappoint. Almost every scene feels like genuine love went into its creation. Fair enough, some of the animations can be a little ropey and would benefit from some extra frames, but at least they're present and we aren't simply staring at static backgrounds.
Quite a character
This zaniness seeps into the characters living in Deponia too. Almost every individual is memorable, from the blind pharmacist who abuses his own supplies, to the fast food clerk who chats nervously with an off-screen demon. The cast of the original Deponia was one of the highlights of the game, and if anything, Chaos on Deponia features an even odder, more hilariously bonkers set of characters to interact with.
Even better, we finally get to spend some time with Goal, the heroine of the piece - or at least, the separate fragments of her mind. After spending most of the first game in a state of unconsciousness, she’s been bumped up to a major player and her split personalities provide some great comic relief, as well as three separate sparring partners for the hapless Rufus.
If you enjoy point n’ click adventure games and aren’t put off by slightly surreal puzzles and silly humour, Chaos on Deponia is a wonderful little piece of escapism. From the rich and busy cartoon environments to the wickedly unique characters, this matches the first Deponia and often surpasses it for sheer entertainment. We’re already looking forward to number three.