Disco Elysium

For­mat PC De­vel­oper ZA/UM Stu­dio Pub­lisher Hum­ble Bun­dle ETA 2019 You’re not talk­ing to your­self in this de­tec­tive RPG – you’re lis­ten­ing

Games Master - - Battlefield V - Alan Wen

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.

Disco in­ferno

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.

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