Poor Rufus never seems to catch a break. If he's not accidentally setting fire to an unsuspecting parrot, or very nearly decapitating the smartest man on Deponia, then he's strapped to a fireworks-powered saw blade in some vain attempt to reach the faraway land of Elysium. Of course, his schemes are doomed to failure. But like with all great underdogs, there's something lovable about Rufus' single-minded desire to escape his downtrodden existence and get the girl--no matter how incompetent his plans might be.
That lovability is what makes Rufus' latest outing in Chaos on Deponia such a wonderful adventure. Depicting Rufus' comical battles with life and love in such a well-written story results in a journey that's throughly compelling, and entertaining. It helps that Deponia is built on some strong foundations. Like in its predecessor, the game maintains a fine balance between comedic relief, character drama, and brain-teasing puzzles--the opening sequence alone is an exercise in great point-and-click design.
Rufus, fresh from the events of the original Deponia, is looking for another way to escape his squalid surroundings and join what he believes to be paradise on board the floating palace of Elysium. Naturally, another harebrained scheme is in order. Cue a hilarious rummage through the cupboards of an elderly couple, the inadvertent flushing of a beloved pet, and the burning of the couple's worldly possessions, all while the couple in question are complimenting Rufus on his new, less-reckless ways.
The puzzles in this opening skit are self-contained, which--while not entirely indicative of all of Deponia's puzzles--gives you a great introduction to the core mechanics of looking at, picking up, and combining objects. On the whole, puzzles make practical sense, but there are more nonsensical combinations and solutions to discover than in the original. For instance, you need to combine an old set of long johns with a crow's nest and some thread in order to catapult a flying platypus egg into the air and hatch it. Elsewhere, you need to make a zebra fish by distracting a fisherman, drugging his bait, and then dipping his catch into a bucket of white paint.
Those with a mind for video game logic won't find any of the puzzles too taxing, but those with a more coherent sense of logic might find it takes several attempts and lots of random clicking to solve them. There's a certain amount of inventory filling to do too, so you have to make sure you pick up everything in a given scene, or face trekking back for it later to solve a puzzle. Such tedium is exacerbated by the fact that there are so many places to explore, from the zany shops and dingy streets of the black market, all the way through to more esoteric locations like the North Pole--complete with frozen explorer--and the stinky, floating trash pile of Isla Watchit.
Dotted between the various puzzles are minigames that help to break up the action, such as simple object matching and math problems, but not all of them are as enjoyable as they should be. Clumsy instructions sometimes hinder your progress, while some minigames simply make no sense at all. Fortunately, you can skip them with a quick mouse click, and their lack of narrative involvement means there's little penalty for doing so, outside of potentially injuring your own pride.
Where Chaos on Deponia excels is in its writing. There are jokes planted in each and every conversation, while the beautiful hand-drawn art is filled with all kinds of visual tomfoolery. The masterstroke comes in the treatment of love interest Goal. And while it would be something of a spoiler to mention what's in store for her, suffice it to say that the resulting hijinks with Rufus and his subsequent mishandled attempts to rectify the situation make for some truly hilarious moments.
The ending's even a little better this time, with a satisfying conclusion that leaves just enough unresolved to pique your interest for the third and final instalment in the series. Like its predecessor, Chaos on Deponia is a thoroughly enjoyable point-and-click game. What few foibles it has do little to detract from its numerous charms as a humorous, and altogether charming adventure.'