Developer: Zaum Studios
Genre: RPG / Isometric / Story Rich / Open World
It’s a rare thing for a video game being shown at a conference to leave me with such an amazing lasting impression but Disco Elysium did just that when I played it EGX Rezzed back in 2018. For a game to really grip you within the first few minutes is a great achievement, to do that whilst there is a noisy conference happening around you is pretty much incredible.
Right from the opening moments of the beginning section of the game that was playable, I was hooked. A dark, gruff, menacing voice debates with you on whether to wake up or just die; the voice –described as a primordial lizard, is part of your conscience which plays a massive part in the whole game’s decision making and dynamic conversations throughout the whole of Disco Elysium.
Disco Elysium is an ambitious project, not necessarily because of the type of gameplay it wants to deliver, but it’s the complexity in the dialogue system that is so ambitious and not like anything I’ve seen. You’ll have access to different ‘personalities’ in your head, you can talk to them, they will talk back to you. Sometimes they will butt in on conversations, or they will try to guide you down a specific path, perhaps trying to lead you astray. Some conversation arcs may only be accessible with a certain amount of skill points being attributed to a specific personality. These entities that exist within the main character are what made Disco Elysium so captivating right from the go. I was laughing out loud at some of the response available; I was getting goose bumps from the voices that reverberated through my head.
The complexities don’t just stop at the dialogue though, there are four main skill categories – intellect, motoric, psyche and physique which are in turn broken down in to sub categories, and you may be able to bolster some of these skills via certain means for example drinking alcohol can boost your physique stats, the downside is that you can develop a dependency on alcohol based on that. You can also trigger other dependencies based on dialogue choices such as remembering you’re a smoker may then have you needing to find cigarettes to satisfy your cravings. Even in the short amount of time I spent playing Disco Elysium – which was about 30 minutes, I was really surprised by the depth shown and the breadth of conversational options available to me that actually felt like they meant something even if it was just something simple like mentioning I smoked.
In Disco Elysium you will truly get to decide what kind of Cop you want to be as you try to solve an opened ended case set in a modern fantasy world where you’re free to roam around and talk to whoever you want and approach things however you might fancy. When talking with the community manager at the event it was described to me as True Detective meets Balders Gate set in a rundown seaside town and if that doesn’t peak your interest I don’t know what will.