Disco Elysium final cut: A masterful psychological satire
“Am I a communist?”, I asked myself as I walked through the rain-soaked streets of the forgotten city of Revachol shirtless while listening to my insane talking tie. Yes, a talking tie. Yes, Communism! You ever thought that you were apolitical? Well Disco Elysium final cut will prove you wrong.
This is a very unique gaming experience, not because of ray tracing or advanced graphics or even innovative gameplay. It’s just a supreme RPG experience while not being unlike anything that came before. Obviously the game’s multiple awards and high critical ratings are a testament to its quality and studio ZA/UM could not have broken out a better way. Originally released on 15 October 2019, Disco Elysium was already favored by everyone who played it, but now that the director’s cut is out, it’s definitely the best way to enjoy this game. The final cut is definitely the best way to experience this game. It features fully voiced characters, more missions and just general quality of life improvements. Now, onwards to what makes this game worth your time.
Playing a role, socializing and drinking in Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium is hard to explain. It’s not really a game, it’s more like a waking dream, a visual novel or like walking through a painting. Part of the journey is discovering how to even play the game. It’s just point and click to put it roughly but what it lacks in slick gameplay, it makes up for in incredible writing, atmosphere, amazing voice overs and overall design.
You begin as an amnesiac cop stranded in post-war Revachol on the brink of communist revolt, almost at the beginning of steampunk revolution. You are meant to solve the case. Despite not knowing anything, you slowly discover the systems, talk to characters. If you’ve ever watched a David Lynch movie, this will be right up your alley. Your interactions with other characters make the game truly a personal experience. This is what you mostly need your skills for.
As you try to solve the mysterious murder on a surrealist landscape with a massive hangover and blabbering whatever gibberish you want, full throttle on drugs and alcohol, you have to stop and appreciate how far you’ve come yourself. I mean is setting up a nightclub really helpful in solving a murder? Maybe! Is it right making a church into a nightclub? You deal with all these absurdities while trying to figure out where exactly your political compass points.
Politics and Madness in Disco Elysium final cut
All of your actions have some political and social consequences, sometimes individual consequences. Is the beautiful Katja a spy? Do you want to liberate the working class or reject the modern world? It’s some pretty heavy stuff and you need some patience for the real kick off. I was gloriously wandering shirtless and drunk in Revachol while debating ethics with a freight container.
There’s really no real way to separate the dream state from grounded politics. End up guarding the dock and you become a communist aide, stay clean and stop progress or take a bribe. Be a dirty delusional rock star detective, a hobocop who doesn’t need a place to stay or just a sorry cop trying to make everyone happy. The possibilities are endless and so are the fights between communists, imperialists and what is basically the UN.
Whatever your politics, playing Disco Elysium will make you question your political views. Racism, communism, centrism- whatever path you take in the game will take you on an interesting journey. There probably has never been a postmodern story told quite the way as Disco Elysium.
Artwork in Disco Elysium final cut
The pastel and oil shades of Disco Elysium are wonderful to look at. The game looks beautiful on almost any computer system including older ones. Graphics may not be the point of the game but the environment is brought to life marvelously and thick with atmosphere. It’s the type of steampunk noir world that makes you want to light a cigarette in a dark room with a single light source. The skills and thoughts that are basically your build are represented with surrealistic paintings that very abstractly convey the information that you are in pain. The artwork is refreshing and very well done, much more than some AAA games nowadays. The small world from the docks to the broken churches are filled with desolation. Even AAA graphics wouldn’t add anything to this already perfect art style.
I hear voices
Now Disco Elysium isn’t originally voiced fully, but the Final Cut has full voice work and it is amazing. The voices you hear, your internal thoughts are definitely the highlight of the show voiced by jazz singer Lenaval Brown. From the low growl of the reptilian brain to the reassuring voice of intelligence or the strange requests of inland empire, all voices sound incredible.
In a game where skills interact with the player in such a huge way, it makes the experience much more hard hitting. Of course, the other characters are voiced extremely competently. From the gravelly voice of Titus, to the sneer of Everett Claire and finally your partner Kim Katsuragi, every character feels different and important. You remember them as actual people, and not as story fodder. Be it rapping with Tommy Le Homme to butting heads with a drug abusing child, every encounter is as special as the choices you make. The music is absolutely phenomenal. Dark ambient music, with some heaviness, eerie lo-fi music to even jazz. It’s all there to make you immersed.
Disco Elysium breaks the fourth wall, displaying a vast amount of consciousness as its role as an artifact. It is an experience hard to define. However, if you don’t like reading then it’s better to stick to whatever Call of Duty just came out. But if you got a surrealist detective itch, then this game will definitely satisfy that.
You walk in the game, not knowing what is real. Perhaps Revachol is so strange it is not meant to exist at all. But at the end of the day when the snow falls, you go back to your hotel thinking maybe I’ll actually wake up. It’s the fun of actually breaking down a door just to find another secret story. Then, it comes back to you when you progress more.
Everything feels connected. While your choices don’t really make the case have more than one outcome, they do affect how you get there. The dream sequences will convert you into an emotional wreck, right after you blasted music off your boat to announce your arrival like some rock star. It is truly an unfocused, bizarre and sometimes confusing experience, but that is the point. It is about the journey and the destination will come to you sooner than you event want it to.
Disco Elysium: Journey, and not destination
To explain exactly how the game works is taking out the fun in learning through suffering in the game. It literally is the core of the experience. Never will you feel anything other than your own intelligence and eccentricism brought you to the world of Revachol. Everything you need is right there with you. Of course the higher your skills in something, the higher your chance of success in an action. This ‘dice roll” mechanic may put many people off, but even if you fail you can still unlock some unique encounter. When the game finally ends, it leaves us with an unforgettable cast of characters who you feel close to and want to see again someday.
Case Closed (Disco Elysium final cut)
Yes while I ran around shirtless with a dozen voices in my head, I did end up solving the case. The ending while being anti-climatic, could have been a little stronger but it still is an interesting turn and maybe that’s what the lesson is. There is no big ending in real life. Though my journey, I developed with my character, from a suicidal drug abusing alcoholic crackpot detective to a tired man just trying to make his life better. It’s an amazing journey. There are a few odd bugs that did dampen my spirits a little so definitely there should be a few patches, but overall I truly felt like I was part of the story and it was glorious.