Format PC Developer ZA/UM Studio Publisher Humble Bundle ETA 2019 You’re not talking to yourself in this detective RPG – you’re listening
The simplest way to describe Disco Elysium is that it’s an isometric RPG inspired by old-school pen-and-paper roleplaying mechanics. But when we’re already having a conversation with our own subconscious, and the enigmatic choices get weirder and more disorientating, it’s clear that this isn’t like any game we’ve ever played. You’re a detective sent to a coastal town to investigate a murder. Before that however, your task is simply getting dressed after you wake up in nothing but your pants while suffering from alcohol-induced amnesia. We’re still missing a shoe when we finally stumble out of our hotel room.
The developer describes this world as an urban fantasy relatable to our own reality, albeit with a mixed-up timeline – for instance, rock music is ancient while disco is hip. It’s also represented in an otherworldly oil painting style, as if the game’s concept art has survived all the way to realisation.
However, that’s just at surface level. What makes Disco Elysium so unusual is that you can customise your detective with 24 unique skills that make up his personality, from logical deduction and imagination to physical endurance. These attributes manifest as thoughts about who you talk to, and even argue among themselves, providing a ton of detail behind every interaction you make, whether it’s interrogating the punk kid loitering by the crime scene, or a hilariously inept attempt to chat up a woman outside your hotel room. Our failure may be down to our intellectual build (well, we think smart is sexy), which while great for finding evidence or picking up lore comes at the expense of decent social skills. It’s also possible to go purely physical and solve problems by punching them. Even in these early stages, we can deduce that there will be myriad ways of playing detective – once we can get our head around it.
Some conversational choices depend on your personality skills – and your thoughts butt in too.
If grappling with all 24 unique skills is somewhat daunting, or you fancy something different to what you’d naturally choose, archetypes are available for you to pick from.