In the six years since it was founded, Daedelic Entertainment has established itself as a key German developer.
After initially gaining recognition for its adventure games Edna & Harvey: The Breakout and The Whispered World, Daedalic has continued to develop and publish a number of popular PC titles, focusing mainly (but not exclusively) on the point-and-click genre.
The studio has since picked up fourteen German Developer Awards and continues to grow its cult following with the likes of its Deponia series.
We recently had the chance to take a look at the four latest games in Daedalic's repertoire. All four are either coming to Steam or are already available, and each impressed us with their respective art styles.
Many credit TellTale with the resurrection of the point-and-click adventure genre, but to do so is to ignore the numerous other development studios who have stuck with and evolved the genre over the years.
Goodbye Deponia is a perfect example of this. Having previously released a number of other adventure games, Daedalic's most recent offering is the third in a trio of gorgeous-looking games with hand-painted backgrounds and fantastic animation and voice acting.
The Deponia trilogy tells the story of Rufus, a cocky and self-centered chap who lives in a small settlement on the garbage-covered planet Deponia. When a beautiful girl called Goal falls from one of the wealthy floating cities above Deponia, Rufus hatches a scheme to win her over and get back to the city with her, leaving Deponia for good.
As the title suggests, then, Goodbye Deponia is the third and final chapter in which Rufus and Goal try to reach the floating city Elysuim. That's not all, though: Deponia is also set for destruction and if Rufus and Goal can't stop it from happening then it'll be 'goodbye' in more ways than one.
There's no denying the quality of Goodbye Deponia's production values, as both the art style and voice acting are of an extremely high quality. The section we played was genuinely funny and if it's an indication of the rest of the game then it should be a worthwhile purchase for point-and-click fans.
All three chapters in the Deponia trilogy - Deponia, Chaos On Deponia and Goodbye Deponia - are now available for purchase on the Steam store.
Journey Of A Roach
Another point-and-click adventure of sorts is Journey Of A Roach, which is released today on Steam. It's interesting in that it attempts to tell an entire point-and-click story without any dialogue at all.
You're in charge of two cockroaches, who have survived a nuclear war by living underground while the world above them became an apocalyptic wasteland. Both dream of one day travelling up to the surface to see what it looks like, so they decide to team up to get there.
With a polygonal cel-shaded art style, Journey Of A Roach certainly looks interesting. Its gameplay is similarly curious, as although it's very much a point-and-click at heart many of its puzzles are based on physical movement as well as the traditional 'this object goes here' type usually associated with the genre.
Much of this stems from the roaches' ability to crawl on the walls and ceilings, allowing access to secret tunnels and areas. This leads to a number of complex puzzles where the roaches split up and perform certain tasks in different areas.
The decision to produce an adventure game without dialogue is an intriguing one, particularly in a game with two heroes who have to work together. Instead, communication is handled with speech bubbles containing illustrations. It's a charming way to do things but during the section we saw some of the illustrations were a little confusing. Maybe that's the point - that deciphering the roaches' language is a puzzle in itself - but it has the potential to lead to some needlessly perplexing moments.
Journey Of A Roach is available now on Steam.
While point-and-clicks are very much Daedalic's speciality, that doesn't mean the studio doesn't dabble with other genres from time to time. Take Blackguards as evidence - due out in January, it's a turn-based RPG.
Blackguards is based on The Dark Eye, a German tabletop role-playing game that originally launched in the mid-80s and outsells even Dungeons & Dragons in its native country. Though it's part of the Dark Eye universe and has the game's main continent of Aventuria as its setting, its characters and locations are mainly new.
Daedalic informed us that Blackguards will have "a dark story full of doubt, betrayal and loss", and from the various moody cutscenes we watched we don't doubt it.
The gameplay looks solid too. Each map is detailed and features interactive elements. We saw one group of enemies destroyed by a falling chandelier when a hero character attacked the rope holding it up. Other objects in the environment can also be used to cause damage, including barrels, crates, tables and even beehives. Enemies can use them too, of course.
With 190 battle maps and an estimated 40 hours of gameplay, it's clear that Blackguards has a lot of content, and the promise of multiple endings suggests replay value is catered for too. One to watch when it's released in January, then.
The fourth and final game we were shown was in its earliest stages and had the potential to be the most exciting, depending on how well it's executed.
1954: Alcatraz takes place in the titular prison and tells the story of Joe, a convict set to serve a lengthy sentence for armed assault. Eager to escape Alcatraz, he realises he needs the help of his wife Christine to get out.
Christine has problems of her own though, as only Joe knows where he's hidden the loot that was stolen and now his partner in crime Mickey is threatening to kill Christine if she doesn't help him find it.
Alcatraz's potential lies in its promise of a non-linear plot, with the choices you make throughout leading to multiple different endings. For example, in an early scene we saw, Christine had to decide whether to tell Mickey that she was still trying to find out where Joe's loot was, or whether to pretend to Mickey that Joe had double-crossed them both. Each option would potentially take the story in a different direction.
Quite how different the story can get remains to be seen, though obviously the more unique branches there are the more complex the game's development will be.
We also weren't quite as in love with the art style of Alcatraz as we were with the other games Daedelic showed us. The backgrounds look impressive but some of the character models look overly simplistic.
Still, as we all know, looks aren't everything, and if Alcatraz's branching storyline is as accomplished as it promises to be then it could still offer an engrossing adventure. 1954: Alcatraz is due to release in early 2014.