Disco Elysium – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, Detective
Developer: ZA/UM
Publisher: ZA/UM
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Tested on: PC

Disco Elysium – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: A great expansive story which lets you totally redefine the detective as you want
Bad: Sometimes, progression can take long if you don’t know where to find your next objective
User Score
9.7
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)

The combination of a detective game and an RPG game isn’t the most usual combination, but Disco Elysium has definitely proven the opposite as it is a wonderful combination. This game sets you in the shoes of a very drunk detective who doesn’t remember a thing about himself and his work. You won’t get to do detective work, you’ll be rediscovering yourself as the detective you want to be. Disco Elysium really sets a new standard for storytelling in an RPG, as it is a quite unique way of storytelling that has turned out to be a success.

Story

The story of Disco Elysium is based around a detective who appears to be a drunkard who has a heavy case of amnesia that has led to him forgetting everything he is. He wakes up on the floor of a torn-down hotel room with only his underpants on. It seems he trashed the room himself but he doesn’t remember a thing. You need to find out who he is, what you’re doing in this hotel room, and everything else. After you’ve talked to a few people, you’ve discovered that you’re a detective that has come to this town to investigate a murder scene that involves someone hanging by his neck down a tree. By talking to everyone around you, you discover more and more about the situation and as you reach the hotel exit, you’ll encounter your partner who will be accompanying you most of the time. Together with him, you’ll investigate not only the murder, but also your whole identity.

Disco Elysium’s story is very heavy on dialogue. You’ll constantly have conversations with your own thoughts on everything you interact with, they will even address you as if they’re a completely separate identity, discussing everything you’re about to say. These thoughts are all connected to the skills available in the game. The skills can represent a way of thought, like empathy, logic or drama which will influence the way you approach situations and conversations with other people. Logic will approach conversations in a logical way while empathy will advise you to show empathy to others while talking to get the info you want.

Graphics

Disco Elysium features a top-down view of the world, which is made of beautifully hand-painted environments. Surely, this doesn’t make the game HD, but it’s definitely great to look at. Your character icon starts as a smudged blur which will change to a painting of the character after you’ve approached a mirror to take a look at yourself. Still, this is subject to change when discussing your appearance with others around the world, altering it appropriately to what’s been said. When talking against others, a portrait of that person will be shown to give you a closer look at them. When in-game, only a large circle that fits the biggest part of the screen will be lit up, leaving the edges of the screen in darkness, adding to the game’s mysterious vibe.

Sound

The music in Disco Elysium has an enigmatic vibe to it. At the main menu, you’ll see the town where the game is situated, accompanied by some calm yet rather peculiar music. When playing the game, the music will keep to the background, filling the game with more calm music. This way, it won’t overrule conversations in the game. The conversations are partially voiced. Mostly, only the introductions of characters are voiced while the rest of the conversation can be read. The voice acting that is found in this game has been performed very well with suitable voices for each character. The environmental sounds are done really well as well, with the sound of water crashing against the docks as you walk close to the riverside or the sound of birds around you.

Gameplay

Disco Elysium is a detective RPG game that lets you control an amnesiac detective who has forgotten everything and you need to discover who you are and what you’re supposed to do. The gameplay of Disco Elysium is quite simple with only having a few shortcuts for the different menus and the mouse to interact with everything in the world. The game’s gameplay is mostly focused on having conversations with people and your own thoughts.

The biggest part of Disco Elysium’s gameplay is found in having conversations with people about yourself and the murder case you’re investigating. Based on the points you’ve invested in the skills, you can approach people in different ways. When you’ve invested more points in the logic skill, you’ll be approaching conversations more logically while investing more points in the Esprit de Corps skill will let you act more like a policeman and be more serious in your police work.

The skills in this game are divided into four categories, Intellect, Psyche, Physique and Motorics. Each category has six unusual and evocative skills that will altogether define the way you approach conversations and situations you encounter. The Intellect and Psyche skills will mostly affect your conversations, how you uncover clues to who you are and the murder case while the Physique and Motorics skills will let you handle situations like catching things or jumping over ledges. Each situation, be it while in conversations or when needing to overcome obstacles, will have skill checks that will determine if you succeed or fail. These checks will succeed or fail based on the percentage of success you will have, which is determined by the skill level of the skill needed for that action. There are two different skill checks, white and red ones. White checks can be retried after leveling up the needed skill, while red checks can only be performed once. Because the checks have a success rate, everything could turn out to be a success, how little the chance may be. Checks can easily be retried by making a quicksave before you perform the skill check. When you failed, you can easily load to the last save state to try again. This could take you some time, but will eventually lead to success in everything, if you have the stamina to keep on trying.

There’s another menu called the Thought Cabinet. This is a kind of mind-map that will represent a collection of the things you’ve realized about yourself and your environment while you progressed through the game. In the Thought Cabinet, you can research these thoughts to unlock a range of benefits. After you’ve successfully researched these thoughts, they will form a type of perk system that will give you some extra advantages in the form of bonuses to your skill levels, or a higher skill check success.

Conclusion

Disco Elysium is a great combination of a detective and an RPG game that features a great way of storytelling. The drunk amnesiac detective is a really interesting person that you can form to your own likings. You can choose to let him be a bad cop, or be a goody-two-shoes who doesn’t want to do anything bad, it’s all up to you. There are always multiple ways to approach each situation which makes the game really interesting to play. The ability to save before you try a skill check can also lead to a success whenever you want if you like to be a perfectionist. It doesn’t really include a lot of action, but this also feels unnecessary as the story and everything you encounter in this game is enough for it to be a great game.

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Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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Disco Elysium - Review, 9.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Nickskuh


Administration is my job but gaming is my passion!

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