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Disco Elysium review. An old school RPG detective game where your body talks to you, and it's awesome!

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This game came out of nowhere recently to a surprising amount of great reviews talking about it. Now that I played it, I can see why.


This game has...... quite an interesting way to start out its story. The game starts with you waking up from the worst hangover you had ever experienced. And by that I mean it's so bad that when you woke up, you have complete amnesia, so you don't know who you are at all other than the fact that you are a detective with a shit-eating grin & there's a dead body hanging right outside the hotel you stayed in. Luckily you can rediscover who you are throughout the game by playing through the game bit by bit. With detective Kim Kitsuragi accompanying you, it is up to you to solve the murder case & help out the inhabitants of this little village in any way you possibly can Holmes and Watson style. If detective Holmes is an amnesiac fat guy with a voice so deep that he actually sounded even worse than Rorschach from Watchmen, and his entire body eg. his thoughts, nervous system & personality talks to him inside his head. Yep, he's one of those people.


Fun fact: the only time you hear your character ACTUALLY speaking to other NPCs is when he sang karaoke in one sidequest. The other times you just talk through dialogue boxes, and most of the main character's actual voice is heard during dream sequences where his brain & limb talk to him about how much of a loser he is. What a fun conversation to have with yourself. XD


If you have played games like old school Fallout 1 + 2, Shadowrun Returns or Planetscape Torment and love them, then you're going to have a good time with this game because it plays pretty much like those games. You know the drill with these games: pick from a preset skill list in the beginning of the game/ create your character yourself, walk around the world and completing various quests + sidequests to level yourself up while also getting items to equip to increase your in game stats. Oh, and of course, a lot of manual save just to prepare yourself for an upcoming challenge. Now the interesting thing with the game is that there's no traditional combat. So what's the challenge of the game is like? Well, most of the challenge in the game lies with you having to overcome "skill checks" that are all over the place. You know like when you're playing Fallout and you talk to someone you have something like "70% success to use your Speech skill to get more information" or something similar to that? This IS the game's form of combat if that makes any sense because this game has a lot of those things, but they are all separated into different skills which looks like this


I customize my character so he has a 3 base stats in everything because I like being an all-rounder, and that suits me well in this game. So you can pretty much encounter a situation like when you're talking to someone and he/she is withholding information from you. If you have enough points to the "SUGGESTION" skill, you can make them open up to you. Or when you're blocked by a man who's guarding a button you have to get to in order to proceed to the next part of the game, you can knock him out if you have enough "PHYSICAL INSTRUMENT" points. Otherwise you can get through him by listening to his crazy "race" ideology, going through this THOUGHT menu, research the ideology & wait until you unlock it so you can talk to the guy again and be friends with him. 


These thoughts take in game time to complete & when it's done, it stays with you unless you use your level up skill point to remove it. Some thought you can research are really good because they give you skill buffs, while others can actually give minus points to some of your skills, so I suggest having a save file right before a thought is 100% complete so you can decide to cancel it and research another thought. 


In fact, save-scumming in this game is highly encouraged because most of the game consists of these percentage-based skill challenges, and the typical bullshittery that happens with these percentage based challenges are inevitable. You think you're ok just because a particular skill challenge has a 78/90% success rate? HAH, being naive is the enemy here friends. Unless you want to spend 1+ hour to upgrade a skill or reload a previous 3 hour save file because you messed up and can't solve a quest after you fail an 86% success rate challenge, you better spam the shit out of that save button before you do that skill challenge! 


There are quite a few ways to finish your quests, and it is all up to you. I finished the game by being a skilled detective who can visualize a crime scene & easily talk through a tough situation to avoid confrontations, while also being a nice guy that always listen to what characters want without upsetting them. Well, as nice as a fat alcoholic who has his internal organs talk to him anyway. 


I can talk more about the game's plot outside of the opening, but I can't do it because figuring it out for yourself is the fun of this game. It's a detective game after all & this game has a lot of mysteries to uncover. But I can say that the setting of this game world is freaking awesome. It's not like our world & looks like it takes place in what I can describe as a hybrid of the 70s where disco is a thing and modern times with tweaks, so the techs uses radio waves & the cds are these "crystalline cubes". It also has a lot of politics involved, and you can decide for yourself which side you are on.


There are 2 things that I don't like about this game. First is that there's no fast travel, which gets quite annoying when you have to backtrack twice just to finish a quest and it'll take 3 - 5 real time minutes just to get from point a to point b. That's probably because the whole game just take place in this one village so this is their way of lengthening the game time. I played for 17+ hours despite this and I love most of my time though so I can deal with that, but what I am really annoyed with though is that the game ends JUST when things are escalating. The main quest is pretty much just about you figuring out who killed the man that's hanging in front of your hotel room, and the game ends when you solve this case completely. Which is good, but while figuring out this case, I came across factions, characters & conflicts that are part of this game's larger universe that I really want to find more about, but the game ends with even more questions and ends on a sequel bait. It's like playing Dark Souls and the game ends after you reach Anor Londo & beaten Ornstein and Smough, but you can't fight the Bearers of the Lord Souls yet and you have to wait until Dark Souls 2 to fight them! I WANT TO SEE MORE DAMN IT, MORE!!!


But overall, I really like this game. It's old school RPG at its best, and without any form of traditional combat mechanic. I just wish the game doesn't end right when it did because I barely see what this game's universe has to offer. I give this game the rating of "so good that you can't wait for the possibly inevitable sequel". I was considering putting a badass seal of approval, but that sequel bait changed my mind the more I think about it.


I have to say though, $US 40/ $AU 56??? Damn that's a lot! If the game goes on far longer that would be a good price. I would personally lower the price to $US 30/ $AU 43 because of that sequel bait. Still, this is a really good game that will satisfy old school RPG fans. Not quite as awesome as AI Somnium Files, but still a really good game nonetheless. 

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