While waiting for a station to free up at the Disco Elysium booth I got chatting to one of the developers. Shortly into our conversation, he compared the game to a cross between classic RPG title Baldur’s Gate and the gritty detective TV show True Detective. At first, well, I was a little confused about what he meant, not to mention the fact that I thought it was a very bold statement. However, although it was a bold statement it was also a true statement, Disco Elysium is one of the most unique games I’ve ever played.
The game is set in the fantasy town of Revachol West, a town littered with corruption and where people really don’t give much a crap about one another. The game starts with you waking after what appears to be a pretty heavy night of drinking, with your first challenge being to find your misplaced clothes. But before any of this happens your given a small snippet to the type of narration to expect in Disco Elysium.
Before waking you’re treated to some excellently written dialogue, which you soon realise is actually you, it’s your thoughts, well, some of them anyway. When talking back to these thoughts you’ll have various option to reply, which I later learnt all have an impact on how these thoughts level up. Which leads me on to the point, these inner-thoughts are actually your skills. The best comparison I can give here is how similar this element of the game felt to the brilliant RPG game Planescape: Torment. Granted, Planescape was one of the most bonkers RPG’s ever made, but it also features one of the best conversation and skill systems, where similar to D&D, some tasks would require a random roll in order to succeed.
At first this in-depth conversation/skill system can be very confusing and in all honesty, even after my 45 minutes with the game I still didn’t have a full understanding of it. With that said, it also gave me some genuinely hilarious moments from the demo. Seeing as you play as a middle-aged, chubby detective who appears to not really have a care in the world, you can reply to most people with excellently written remarks, some that will even challenge what we would call politically correct. I had so much fun telling people at the beginning that I was a superstar cop, even to the point where I try to use it to sleeve a woman into bed.
I’ve done a pretty poor job in trying to explain how the game works so I’ll try to keep this simple, Disco Elysium is genuinely brilliant! The stunning oil painting artwork, dark corrupted world and excellently written conversation skill emphasis have got me very excited to play the game when it gets a full release. Disco Elysium has turned out to be a brilliant hidden gem from EGX Rezzed 2018 and if your heading to the show I highly recommend you check it out.