Back in the very early to mid 90’s, LucasArts was employing the likes of some insanely talented people and churning out a seemingly endless barrage of hilariously inventive, story-driven point-and-click PC adventure games like Full Throttle, The Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango, etc.–all driven quite simply with the mighty two-button PC mouse. But while traditional point-and-click adventure games remained popular and plentiful (in good and bad ways), by the end of the decade, the genre was already listlessly embarking upon its steady, belabored downfall as the FPS and RPG genres were ushering in deeper, more complex experiences intent on redefining the boundaries and expectations of game design.
Despite the genre’s regression, however, a few dedicated developers stood with us fans and continued to produce a trove of quality adventure games that have now become classics in their own rights — Syberia I&II (Benoît Sokal), The Longest Journey (Funcom), Indigo Prophecy (Quantic Dream – creators of the PS3 exclusive, Heavy Rain) and most recently, Samorost I&II and Machinarium (Amanita Design), to name a scant few.
But over the past four years, one acclaimed German indie games developer, Daedalic Entertainment, has been shaking up the proverbial hour glass in homage to some of those aforementioned classics with several unique entries into the genre. In fact, if you didn’t know it, you might glance at some of their past games like The Whispered World or A New Beginning and think LucasArts was back at it again.. but alas, you would be sorely mistaken! Instead, these guys and gals have gone back to the drawing board (literally) to create a very distinct visual style utilizing richly detailed hand-painted backgrounds and cartoon-style animation reminiscent of the work of Terry Pratchet and Matt Groening, as a recurring motif throughout most of their games. But while their aesthetics may draw in the crowd with a penchant for nostalgia, it is the memorable characters and the intricate stories conveyed throughout each of Daedalic’s games that really sets them apart from other point-and-click offerings – and let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy a well told story? Yup, that’s what I thought!
Only this time around their upcoming title, Deponia, is here to prove that one man’s trash, is truly another man’s treasure. That’s because Deponia follows the many comical missteps of the ill-tempered, self-centered protagonist, Rufus, who lives on the surface of the garbage covered planet of Deponia. While yearning for love, wealth and much cushier surroundings found in the beautiful “floating cities high above the planet’s surface”, Rufus gets his wish – sort of – when a beautiful woman or, “Goal,” plunges unexpectedly from the sky and into his backyard. Only hitch? Her fall has knocked her unconscious and Rufus must formulate a plan to get her home somehow. But not without first shamelessly plodding to become her new upper-class husband in order to seal a cozy future for himself. And that’s only just the beginning of Rufus’ crazed adventure!
So as you can tell, I’m terribly excited to see how Deponia is going to fair when we can all finally get our grubby gamer mitts all over it! Unfortunately, Daedalic has yet to lock down a release date with only a projected Q2 launch in 2012. Until then, be sure to refrain from tossing this one into the collective trash heap located in the back of your mind.
Side Note: I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent playing through Daedalic’s last game, which I mentioned earlier — the sci-fi eco-thriller, A New Beginning, (despite some minor squabbles and technical distractions) and I highly recommend that you check it out, especially if the whole global warming issue concerns and/or interests you. Just a few words of advice though — opt out of the English voice overs and go straight with the subtitles, as the voice overs can be pretty horrid at times.