disco elysium!

release date: october 15 2019
developer: ZA/UM
age rating: PEGI 18; adults only

disco elysium - the final cut is a groundbreaking role playing game. you’re a detective with a unique skill system at your disposal and a whole city to carve your path across. interrogate unforgettable characters, crack murders or take bribes. become a hero or an absolute disaster of a human being.
the disco elysium page on steam

i 100%'d disco elysium on june 18th, 2022!
on my 69th hour of playtime. somehow.
(it's what harry would've wanted...)

my thoughts on disco elysium!

disco elysium is a work of art, through and through.

i can't even wrap my head around the amount of superb writing that went into this game!! the way that the dialogue is written is very much my ideal sort of style. it's FULL of character - casual yet poetic and very, very clever. if you enjoy nautical themes, the seaside setting of the game is a total delight, too. sea power provided the soundtrack for disco elysium and their amazing music meshes the environments of martinaise together in a moody, wistful bliss that seems almost effortless.

admittedly, i was initially a little hesitant to get into disco elysium. there was no big reason for this; i just tend to prefer rpgs where you make your own character from scratch. but harry du bois is absolutely incredible as a protagonist, and i'm extremely grateful that the developers went this route rather than letting you make your own detective. i've played through this game several times and the range of different personalities that you can give harry is pretty incredible. you can make him a raging asshole (and suffer some interesting consequences for doing so, btw) or go the complete opposite route and make him a total stickler for the rules. i, personally, enjoy the 'still a mess but having a wacky little fun time of it' sort of approach.

this is compounded even more by the different builds you can give harry. he has four major skill trees: intellect, psyche, physique and motorics. each of these categories has six skills within them. at the start of the game, you can pick out an initial spread of skills (along with a signature skill!) and then build on whichever extras you want as you play and level up. in doing so, you literally shape the way harry interacts with the world.

(infomercial voice) but that's not all! in a true tabletop-inspired experience, your spread of skills dictates how well you can pass certain checks. but disco elysium takes this a bit further and gives each skill its own unique personality. harry's skills literally correspond to his inner thoughts and they each have their own opinions on how to guide harvry - be it in achieving success or meeting failure. empathy can chime in with insights to other characters, shivers can give harry insights into the city's voice, and electrochemistry will really want you to get wasted. skills will often get into little side-arguments with each other, pushing you to take a certain path... and this path isn't necessarily the "correct" one. just because authority wants you to interject and put your foot down doesn't mean that doing so is going to go well for you. ultimately, the choice is always up to you. harry has the final say when it comes to dealing with all these different aspects of his personality, after all! furthermore, failing to pass checks is not necessarily a bad thing! sure, shit can hit the fan, but shit can also open up new questlines and add to your harry's uniqueness. there is also a thought cabinet mechanic, where you can shape harry's general beliefs and get huge skill buffs / nerfs in accordance to how you're molding him. these range from establishing harry's politics to having him "obsess over his sexuality" and realize that something lgbt just happened to him.

interestingly enough, despite all of this potential for variation, the 'core' of harry is consistent no matter what. the past weighing heavy on his shoulders is the same regardless of the way you choose to have him approach it. this means that you might enjoy a certain build or personality more than others, but harry, himself, stays as a solid, well-developed character no matter what. this is done in a really satisfying way, too, and that's no easy feat in writing a game like this!

and don't even get me started on kim kitsuragi, the deuteragonist. literal character of all time. there's a reason why his portrait has angel imagery going on with that halo of light behind him. words can't do him justice - you have to simply experience the dynamic that kim and harry have in disco elysium. you'll go in expecting it to be incredible and just get blown away by how utterly hilarious - and moving - the two of them are. they bring out a whole lot of good in each other. as for kim - he is proper but still goofy; patient but not at all without his own quirks. like any good character, his shortcomings add a realistic flair to him which serves to make the way he's written even better. he supports harry in a genuinely touching way while also being totally willing to point out when harry is being a fucking asshole.

all in all, disco elysium is a standout game. the lore is interesting, the characters and setting are unforgettable, and the way it's written is nothing short of masterful. definitely mind the rating and the warnings before you leap into it, as it deals with lots of extremely dark topics and has graphic depictions of violence... but if those things don't bother you, definitely check it out sometime! it's incredibly special to me, and it may very well end up being the same for you.

my fav disco elysium quotes!

YOU — "I get down."
ACELE — "I... don't know what that means."
YOU — "I grind."
ACELE — "I don't know what that means either."

HALF LIGHT — Damn, that felt *good*. Your heart's pounding nicely. You should tell people to fuck off more often.
VOLITION [Medium: Success] — No, you shouldn't. You're an officer of the law.
YOU — "Kim, I think I should tell people to fuck off more often. It felt really good."
KIM KITSURAGI — "Not as a general rule, but that one was justified. Better to get the lay of the land before telling people to fuck off."
AUTHORITY [Medium: Success] — That means you should do it whenever you feel like someone's disrespecting your authority.

YOU — "Kim, what do you think about this?"
KIM KITSURAGI — "I think this racist is better than the last -- but the next racist will be the really good one."
CONCEPTUALIZATION [Medium: Success] — That will be the...
YOU — "That will be our lucky racist!"
KIM KITSURAGI — "He will grant us three wishes."

KIM KITSURAGI — "Could you please stop asking *everyone* for money? It does not reflect well on the RCM and to be perfectly frank we can't afford to look worse than we already do.
YOU — "But Kim! I also can't *afford* to look any better than I do now. That's why I need the money!"

KIM KITSURAGI — "So -- what do you think?"
YOU — "I think he's dead."
SUGGESTION [Medium: Success] — There are crows feet in his eyes, he's laughing silently.
KIM KITSURAGI — "Totally dead."
YOU — "Deadady-dead-dead-dead."
KIM KITSURAGI — "Daba-doop-doop-dead," he says without a hint of melody. Not one muscle in his face moves.

YOU — Steal a dead man's boots? But that would be *DISHONOURABLE*! (Refuse - for honour.)
INTERFACING — All right then, you can pay the hostel bill in *honour* points. How many honour points have you collected?
YOU — There are honour points?
INTERFACING — Of course there aren't, don't be naive.
INLAND EMPIRE [Medium: Success] — You still feel as though there might be some honour points. And if there are, you've surely earned one.

INLAND EMPIRE — A strange feeling... looking at the water. Maybe you should just wander off into the sea? Leave it all and walk in...
ELECTROCHEMISTRY [Easy: Success] — With a bottle in your hand.
YOU — A bottle in my hand?

VOLITION — No. This is somewhere to be. This is all you have, but it's still something. Streets and sodium lights. The sky, the world. You're still alive.

KIM KITSURAGI — "I'm enjoying this part of the interview -- it has *so* little to do with the murder we're investigating."

INLAND EMPIRE — Something tells you her life and yours are not that similar.
YOU — "Our lives are very different from each other."
JOYCE MESSIER — "No doubt -- but we share the same time and position on the planet's crust. That counts for more than you'd think."

ENDURANCE [Medium: Success] — Fuck that cough. It's not happening. The insides of your lungs are lined with *tobacco*, a powerful antibacterial agent. You are unstoppable.

YOU — "OH, I WANT TO DANCE WITH SOMEBODY!" (Start tapping your foot.)

PAIN THRESHOLD — Bent metal, broken glass... your path lies strewn with the broken forms of everyday objects... You are *The Destroyer*, the bane of inanimate matter.
YOU — Yeah, I rip shit apart.

PAIN THRESHOLD [Challenging: Success] — You smash into the wood and see a small crack appear on the door frame. It's going to take one more try to break through to the other side, but you've done it...
KIM KITSURAGI — "You're not thinking of trying again, are you?" The lieutenant stares at you as you stand there, silent and brooding.
YOU — Smash into the door and shout: "Fuck, it hurts!"

KIM KITSURAGI — "I understand. People are usually afraid to do things if others aren't already doing them. Dancing makes you dance like sneezing makes you sneeze. Or yawning makes you... Anyway..." He looks around, a little embarrassed of the enthusiasm of his interjection.
YOU — "We certainly saw that in practice, didn't we?"
KIM KITSURAGI — "Yes, I suppose we did."
YOU — "Tore that shit up."
KIM KITSURAGI — "Tore it to pieces."

YOU — "How can you be sure they haven't starved to death?"
ANDRE — "I'm super sure they're still alive. I mean, c'mon! I'm at least 90%... maybe 85% sure they're still alive."
YOU — "Eighty-five percent is good enough. No one lives forever, baby!"
ANDRE — "Exactly! That's *exactly* what we thought!"

YOU — Punch the door.
DOOR, ROOM #3 — You slam your fist into the vinyl. It does not produce a hole. The door sits sturdily in the frame and your fist hurts. This was all a very good, normal thing to do.
PHYSICAL INSTRUMENT [Medium: Success] — Not to mention *great* exercise!

KIM KITSURAGI — "Forget it." He waves his hand. "It would become an imbecilic discussion. You two continue. It's more *hard core* that way."
EMPATHY [Challenging: Success] — He does not feel left out. In fact he probably just wanted to say "hard core."

SANDCASTLE — Weather has not been kind to Lily's little sandcastle. The once mighty towers are quickly eroding away. You can see something shining back to you from what must have been a vast underground catacomb network.
YOU — "Broken..."
KIM KITSURAGI — "The little castle?" The lieutenant smiles a little. "The reigning lord must have come upon some really tough times to let it slip in such decrepitude."

ACELE — Anyway, I thought I'd make some, too. It's supposed to be, like, a music place anyway..." She rubs her shoulders and looks around. "I don't really know what I'm doing. They use synthesizers, too. I don't have a synthesizer."
EMPATHY [Medium: Success] — She looks at the recording device, the thing she thought would fill her hours with joy and escape. It's turning out to be an empty fantasy. She feels childish, very useless all of a sudden.
EMPATHY [Legendary: Success] — The device is still warm from her touch -- and heavy as a brick, from the batteries inside. The company logo "Omicron" adorns its yellow plastic cover. Inside, the tape is rolling -- the girl looks at the device in your hands.
YOU — "I'm sorry you have to sit here on the ice with the drugs wearing off. At your age -- or at any age -- in this weather... waiting for it to get dark."
ACELE — She looks you in the eye, her pupils wide, surrounded by a ridiculous amount of make-up.
YOU — "The people who built this world intended it to be better for you, but they failed. It is easier to live in their failure with this by your side." (Tap on the tape recorder.)
ACELE — The wind howls. She remains silent.
EMPATHY — It's real. Tell her.
YOU — It's not a childish fantasy. It can be a real weapon against what's coming for you now."
ACELE — "What is...?" Her shoulders shake a little.
YOU — "The dark."
ACELE — "I know." Her teeth rattle. She takes the device from you and places it in her lap. "I'll stick to it."

YOU — Why bother solving crimes when the world is so evil?
DICK MULLEN AND THE MISTAKEN IDENTITY — Is it really so evil, detective?
YOU — Okay, maybe not. There are parts worth saving.
YOU — Friends and family.
YOU — I've got Kim.
DICK MULLEN AND THE MISTAKEN IDENTITY — Just make sure you don't lose him. You'll not find another like him...
ESPIRIT DE CORPS [Medium: Success] — It's true in more ways than you know.