If you don’t think your video games need politics, don’t play Disco Elysium-The Final Cut. If you don’t think the game should be eager to say anything, this detective RPG is not a game for you. That doesn’t mean that the $ 39.99 game is a manifest. Ironically, but thoughtfully, how to criticize the scope of the ideology reveals that the politics of the game is not as narrow as you would expect. But this is not a mean centrism. Disco Elysium’s sympathy lies ultimately in the movement centered on working people and their best interests, despite calling for them to play as police officers on the other side of the equation. The stunning role-playing mechanics and richly realized world are impressive regardless of the story, but Disco Elysium’s beating thematic mind makes it the best PC game in history to play at this moment.
Please note that Disco Elysium-The Final Cut is a new version of the game first released in 2019. The most important changes include additional side quests and full voice acting. This update comes as soon as the game console launches and is free if you already own the original game on your PC.
Thin blue line
If you didn’t know that Disco Elysium was written and designed by an Estonian novelist (Robert Kurvitz), you probably did. This is, first and foremost, an adult story, and the flashy and literary density on display feels like a brick-sized book assigned to read at college.
Fortunately, Disco Elysium makes wise choices based on the familiar formula police procedural for the more esoteric concepts. If you’ve seen Twin Peaks or The X-Files, you know that the philosophy of existentialism doesn’t go as smoothly as it would with a police officer in the case. In cold and heavy European aesthetics, Disco Elysium is reminiscent of Nordic noir crime dramas that exploded a few years ago, such as Bordertown and The Killing.
In the vulgar city of Levacor, you and your partner Kim Kitsuragi hang a local man and try to solve the mystery that tied him up for everyone to see. It’s a solid murder mystery, full of clever twists and reversals throughout the 12-hour playtime. But it is also a pretense of a deeper investigation of the world itself and the sinister yet familiar social forces that shape it. Despite the fake names of countries and races, this is a more realistic alternate history world than a cartoon-like fantasy world. As you immerse yourself in the carefully textured world-building, you will gain knowledge of all kinds of despots, failed revolutions, and conflicting political movements.
Your search remains limited to the Industrial Martinez area. Like the yakuza game, Disco Elysium chooses to provide a reasonably sized yet incredibly deep living space instead of a wide, shallow map to explore. This makes the survey easier to manage, while allowing you to move freely wherever you like to track plot threads and wild tangents in a slightly non-linear manner. You will eventually unlock in the form of a fast trip, but at that point you are so familiar with the map that it is wrong not to walk those backstreets like a proper gumshoe You will feel it.
Talking to people gives you time to move forward, and certain actions occur only at certain times of the day. As a result, unlike Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, strangely, I found myself planning a day. This is not her story. Entering a single word unlocks the dimensions of the new plot. Freedom allows for more fun experiments than you would expect from a story-driven game. Surprisingly friendly.
You need to talk to a lot of people to understand what’s really happening. Everyone at Martinaise is important and no one is a disposable NPC. Punk Kid’s Kuno gives you the hardship that makes you want to hit his face, but your partner, Kim, is a stand-up guy you don’t want to disappoint him. Union workers explain why no one legitimately trusts the police or scab strikebreakers. Femme Fatale seems ready to realize the dream of a secret agent before returning to reality. Unidentified zoologists hang out with crypto fascists. These people and their stories, above all, depict the best and darkest portraits of life in Levacor. Cyberpunk 2077 hopes this was a compelling melancholy. It’s nicely written and often incredibly interesting. A new voice actor enhances the immersive feeling.
What kind of policeman are you?
Then there are the player characters, the perfect picture of the turbulence, the “Beautiful Human Disaster”, and the black hole around which the disco erydium orbits. Incorporating the classic and amnesiac RPG hero metaphor, this game casts you as a cop. Being self-destructive and taking medicine from the bottom of his heart, if the hangover continues, he will be completely unaware of the world around him. His devastated brain is a blank canvas for projecting your role-playing. Until you say so, he can’t even see his face in the mirror.
But the brain is not completely empty. Your character’s head is crawling with a variety of vicious emotions and urges. These anthropomorphic emotions constantly curse and annoy you with the constant internal monologue of dissonance. Working on these various growling impulses, spoiling one moment and ignoring the next is the way to build a character. Instead of an illustrated audiobook, it’s your control over the characters that makes this a great role-playing game.
Disco Elysium is a rough form of the classic Western PCRPG. Think of Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment. Those familiar metaphors are transformed to best serve the street-level threads that the game conveys. That is, equip another policeman’s hat instead of armor, and instead of finding treasure, pick trash and recycle it into cash. This is a game where firing just one bullet is a monumental event.
The most important and satisfying remix RPG idea is how Disco Elysium approaches “class” and “level up”. You can gain experience by talking to citizens and solving puzzles related to central mysteries. As you level up, you can earn skill points and spend them on the various parts of your personality, the Psyche skill. The stronger these psychedelic skills are, the more likely you are to perform a particular action or succeed in a particular skill check. Being motivated, I was nervous and just asked the rich for money. I used empathy to find the tragic real reason someone made me angry.
Along with Psyche skills, you sometimes come up with thoughts or let you say it. Internalizing your thoughts (think for enough time) will affect your Psyche skills and open up new dialogue options. For example, by internalizing the feminist agenda, we are no longer afraid to place men in place. Hearing the dizzying prejudices of advanced racial theory helped me get over the guards before I mocked his entire belief system. After all, understanding an ideology does not mean that you agree with it or that it defines you.
The choices you make give you a tremendous amount of agency about how your character interacts with others. You have so many points to spend and so much room in your head for new ideas. Seeing yourself as a super cop, a hobo cop, and a regular cop at the same time can be a daunting task (all of these are particularly self-delusional ideas that you can choose to internalize). Not only are these mechanics a truly fun character building system, but they also act as a metaphor for the exciting gameplay of the protagonist’s scattered brains. It also draws you into his headspace in a way that resembles great literature.
Dungeon and capital theory
Disco Elysium’s gameplay elements legally enhance the experience, but they can also counter interactive storytelling in less elegant ways. There is no battle. Instead, you lose points of health or morale, depending on the decisions you make. Do you want to punch your mailbox out of anger? Lose health. How do you feel after seeing a seagull? Regain morale. You can also buy “healing items”, also known as drugs. This is a cool system. Other RPGs need to steal this model.
At one point, my character was so exhausted on a prank call that he lost the will to live. I couldn’t even get angry at getting over the game. But this system also means you can’t really know when you can be fatally damaged, which feels unfair. There is no equivalent to hoarding before the boss battle.
Many tasks in the game usually prevent you from getting stuck at a dead end, but occasionally a mandatory skill check stops momentum at the point where the story is actually taken up. At one point, I had to perform a fetch quest or raise the level of tremors so much that I could understand the inside story of the building just by touching the mural. At these moments, I hoped the game would come to choose your own adventure like a sophisticated, telltale-style movie.
Still, the moment when there are exceptions. I spent most of my time completely absorbed, engaged, entertained, and inspired by Disco Elysium. I really care about the fate of the characters and organizations. I made a fuss about how my character’s new leftist political consciousness developed. I tried to be the best drunken communist cop I could and adjusted my skills to achieve this. I wanted to write down all the memorable text, but thankfully, the Twitter account already does that important job.
I have seen myself in these people who take collective action to confront despair, these workers who demand fair contracts and legitimate seats at corporate tables. I laughed not to cry about the inescapable lazy corruption and the poison of greedy capitalism. I closed my eyes and danced at the disco.
Can your PC run Disco Elysium?
While maintaining the working class theme of the game, I played Disco Elysium on a aging 2015 gaming laptop instead of the bourgeois high-performance 2021 desktop. Fortunately, the game runs smoothly at 60 frames per second, even when all graphic settings such as shadows and antialiasing are maximized. To run the game, you need at least an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, a DirectX 11 compatible GPU (integrated or dedicated with at least 512MB of memory), 2GB of RAM, and a PC with 20GB of space.
Disco Elysium doesn’t have a technically demanding art style, but it does have a visual appeal. The painted watercolor brush strokes reflect a blurry view of the hero’s reality and identity. Martinez is a gray and salty fishing ground, but there are enough colored pops to catch your attention, like the hotel lobby or the purple jacket of a stranger. The music by the band British Sea Power already enriches the thick atmosphere. When you wave, you’ll love to blow up some sad FM.
Disco Elysium can be purchased on Steam and the Epic Games Store. The game supports controllers, but I’ve found that the mouse and keyboard play much smoother. It’s basically a point-and-click adventure game, and it’s more intuitive to just point out where to go and what to do than to use the control stick to mess with the cursor. Final Cut updates also bring the game to the console, and I’m curious if the controller situation is better. I have no personal experience, but I have reported bugs at startup.
Last exit to Revachol
I don’t pretend I’m not the type of person specifically prepared to love games like Disco Elysium. This is a video game professionally written about labor and I am a writer who joined the labor movement after starting a career covering video games. But, as exaggerated as it sounds, not all masterpieces need to be equally appealing to all audiences. This is a cerebral game that exists in a fictitious video game version of the Criterion Channel.
Disco Elysium-The Final is not only sold as a “Detective RPG”, but is also a virtually perfect take of ambitious, densely layered, thematic and interactive political storytelling. This is an intelligent, rewarding, cheerful, and mind-blowing editor’s choice pick and another welcome example of the artistic height achieved by today’s video games.
Visit PCMag’s Steam Curator page to get all the latest information on the latest PC games. There you will find all Steam reviews and a detailed preview of upcoming Steam titles.
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