Published on November 19th, 2019 | by Chris O'Connor
Disco Elysium PC Game Review
Summary: Disco didn't die, but someone did and you have to find out who and whodunnit!
Like many of us older gamers, I grew up on adventure games. Point and click style from Sierra and Lucasarts through to the R.P.G. styling of Fallout and Baldur’s Gate. Disco Elysium takes those games, mixes in a healthy dose of Planescape Torment then swishes around a bit of Under a Killing Moon and strains it through a political/philosophy class for a nice finish. If that wasn’t enough it dresses it up with a dash of eponymous Disco style.
The game/story begins with you being assigned the case of a man who has been hung from a tree behind a hostel. You just happen to have found yourself staying at that hostel and why I say “happen to have found yourself” is because you don’t remember anything! Who you are, what you do, even what your name is is a complete mystery to you thanks to what seems to have been some very heavy drinking and potentially narcotic consumption. What this state of affairs does, brilliantly, is gives you a clean slate with which to create your character all whilst being fully engaged in the game. That character creation continues throughout the game as you make choices and take conversation paths that hint at your personality type.
With this sort of a setup it would be very easy to get lost very quickly, thankfully you have been gifted a partner whom you can seek answers from and who will guide you roughly along the right path to solving the mystery of the hanged man (and of who you are). You also have internal thoughts that will help steer your personal progression.
The game has a wonderful visual style that is quite fluid painterly. Almost like the images are created in a water colour that has not yet dried and could shift and change in a moment if they are moved a little. This style works wonders with the somewhat ethereal nature of your character who seems somewhat tripped out and incapable of finding his true self. The soundtrack is equally mysterious and certainly helps place you in this strange landscape.
I think one of the things I appreciate the most about this game is that it feels very much like the grown up version of those games that I mentioned earlier, yet it retains their sense of fun. It’s definitely full of mature themes and not for the younger gamers, but for those of us who grew up with this style of game, to get a mature version is quite a thrill and to have one that is so well written with political intrigue, murder mystery aspects and a touch of humour is fantastic.
There’s a lot of replayability to the game as well due to the fact that you will come across choices that are impacted by your skills, skills that you can build up as you progress in the game. Some choices are able to be redone when you have “levelled up” the skill later, others are one shot only. Some of these choices lead to other pieces of information that can help explain who you are or provide details about the crime you are investigating or even just about the world you find yourself in.
I was skeptical about the PR for the game saying it is unlike anything you’ve ever played before, having played it I can see where they are coming from. Whilst you could argue this is in fact a combination of many game genre’s to form an amalgamation of those styles. You could certainly argue that in mashing all those games together and adding it’s own little twists and turns and pieces of flare that this is indeed a new type of game. I for one would be quite happy to jump back into the shoes of our down and out detective and try and work out another case… or see what one of his past cases was like to work on.
Certainly worth a look if you like detective or adventure games, with a lot of depth and character to them!