Disco Elysium

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JaySevenZero
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Disco Elysium

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions for Disco Elysium for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder that where the feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but keeping it brief is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mostly reading out essays. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

RetroClarence
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by RetroClarence »

Hi all

If you're planning to play or replay Disco Elysium in preparation for the episode, there is a group of us in the Playthrough podcast community that have just started playing it. I host Playthrough and we will be publishing a couple of companion podcasts.

If you'd like to come and join in the discussion, come and join us on Discord:

https://discord.gg/jkravFTyVM

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Truk_Kurt
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by Truk_Kurt »

I very much feel like the odd one out with Disco Elysium. Going in I really liked the sound of an RPG that was based around personality and character traits rather than based around stats that you normally get in RPGs. Listening to various people talk about it, it also sounded like a very open experience as to how your story could play out.

There is a lot I liked about the game, the quality of the writing is top tier and many of the characters are interesting.

However, i did have some frustrations with the game, I didn't really like checks system that was in place which would prevent you from certain choices without having invested the required number of points into a certain personality trait. This was personified by a choice late in the game where in order to progress the story, you had to get inside the building with the mural on it. To get inside you had to pass a check which due to how I had made choices up to that point and where I had invested my points, meant I only had a 3% chance of passing. When it failed I would have to wait x number of in game hours for it to reset. I ended up having to go around talking to people and exhausting every possible conversation tree to basically grind XP to get points to put into the area which would give me a better chance of passing the check. After many real world hours I had done everything I can and even changed my outfit to give me the best chance I could of passing the check which now stood at 13%. I still failed. So I had to keep reloading the safe until I passed. It left a massively bitter taste in my mouth as I felt up to that point in the game I had lots of freedom to choose my own story, but now I had been funnelled into doing things I thought were against my character build just to progress the story.

After finishing the game I discovered that you could sneak into the building through a secret tunnel but this was not made obvious to me by anyone in the game as far as I could tel.

Furthermore, I know this may be controversial but I really thought the whole Manta Ray insect thing was really stupid, up to that point I felt the game was grounded in reality which I liked but then this fantasy being just came out of nowhere.

So overall, I didn't come out at the end of the game satisfied but it is a unique game with some memorable moments I enjoyed, but I wasn't as keen as many others.

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Gadget8Bit
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by Gadget8Bit »

From the opening drawl of the Ancient Reptilian Brain taunting the player about existence, Disco had me hooked.

When the screen faded from black onto the pathetic mess of the hungover Harry, lying on his motel room floor, I knew I was in for a ride.

My journey through Revachol was long and complicated. I fell whole heartedly in love with the world, pouring over every facet of lore, listening to everyone’s point of view, fly kicking a massive racist in the face as I went.

As a role playing game, I think Disco is unique in that our character is neither a blank slate, nor fleshed out. Harry has probably one of the richest backstories of any predefined RPG character, but from the moment you drag his sorry hide off the floor and start to find his clothes, you are in control and every choice leads Harry down the path of who you want him to be.

Want to make amends for his behaviour? You can do that. Want to continue to take drugs, drink the town dry and party? Go for it. Want to become a racist? It’s up to you. Want to do any combination of these things? Have at it.

The world is so rich and detailed. Every character has believable motivations and interesting character arcs. Even Cuno. Whether he gives a f or not.

There’s a moment towards the end of the game where you help out a group of ravers set up a new club in an abandoned church. They’re not really occupying the same reality as Harry and the erstwhile Kim, but they look happy. If you complete their quest you can dance to the new electronica beats that will be all the rage in Revachol for years to come. I watched my Harry, the conscientious socialist who argues down racists and tries to do good things, dressed in a brown jacket, The Most Hideous Tie, and two pieces of battle armour, dancing like a man possessed. He’d come so far from the hungover mess that told the first person he met that he’d “like to make f**k” with her.

Even though I hadn’t taken him down that path, my Harry was, and always will be, a superstar, baby.

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Miririn
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by Miririn »

A really intelligently written, creative, unusual and fascinating game. It was lovely to play something with such a clear and original vision behind it. Admittedly, playing on the PS4 at launch meant I suffered a lot of very unfortunate glitches, and I also found traversal a slog throughout. But I kept playing through all the crashes and loss of save files because I was so fascinated by this strange little miracle of a game that shouldn't work as well as it does.

Before I played I thought all the philosophy and politics sounded really off-puttingly pretentious, but I relaxed when I started the game and was charmed by its chaotic, anarchic humour. It's a game that encourages players to revel in chaos - I particularly loved the "hint" to select the most wild and inflammatory dialogue options. And I often did, ending up in increasingly Joseph Heller-esque dialogue spirals that made me laugh like a drain.

This is a game that thrives on words. Although the visuals are beautiful, the music is great, and the mystery at the heart of the game is fascinating, ultimately it is a game that lives and dies by how compelling its text is (because boy is there a lot of it to get through). And luckily, I did find it compelling. It's the most novelistic game I think I've ever played, and probably the best-written game too. Really intricate, fantastic stuff that would work just as well as a novel or comic. Every line of dialogue is meticulously written.

I found myself getting very emotional by the end of the game and I'm still not quite sure why. The story tackles serious topics, but is largely irreverent and funny. It sounds silly - but you get the sensation that the game is both taking itself terribly seriously and also not taking itself seriously at all. I would read and nod earnestly along to dialogue all about loneliness, the human condition, alcoholism, the suffering of the proletariat... and then five minutes later I'd slip on a silk kimono and some disco glasses for a stat boost so I could karaoke, before goading a hotel manager into an argument on the nature of reality. It's this constant game of chicken as to how seriously the player should be taking things, and how much the player should revel in the glorious silliness of it all, that lends the game its unique charm.

At some point during my playthrough, I realised
that despite the frequent laughter, something about this dark story about a wreck of a person; about this empty and sad corner of a forgotten city; about small acts of kindness and human connection... had formed a hairline crack in my heart and that I was blinking away tears. And I think that bizarrely strong emotional reaction was down to the incredibly intelligent and empathetic writing, which is bolstered by the strong voice cast, lovely music and stunning visuals. And those visuals! Every frame of this game looks like a painting.

The voice cast were uniformly outstanding, but I want to particularly single out Jullian Champenois, who plays Kim Kitsuragi, for his French-accented deadpan line delivery throughout the game. A brilliant character brilliantly written and performed. Lieutenant Kitsuragi felt like an instantly iconic game character.

It's such an odd and satisfying experience to play. A lot of the time I was laughing out loud at the intentional absurdities, but the melancholy score and strange, fragile human connections you and the playable character make with the people around you are enough to break your heart. I don't know if I've ever played a game that made me laugh so frequently but also made me feel so terribly lonely and melancholic. The lovely, understated music by British Sea Power, particularly in the old fishing village area, really added to that desolate atmosphere. It was a unique experience, I'm so glad I played it.

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JaySevenZero
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by JaySevenZero »

True story, I spent an evening in the company of British Sea Power once many moons ago, then went drinking with the bass player.

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Miririn
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by Miririn »

JaySevenZero wrote: April 22nd, 2021, 10:52 pm True story, I spent an evening in the company of British Sea Power once many moons ago, then went drinking with the bass player.
That is very cool! I hope they were nice. Since playing the game I've been looking up some more of their music and I like it.

Although I am a bit cross with them for making me cry.

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ratsoalbion
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by ratsoalbion »

I haven't hung out with them but I did see a BSP gig in a little pub when they were just starting out around 20 years ago.

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Rhaegyr
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by Rhaegyr »

Another one here who's seen BSP a few times (and got on stage with them, turning a make-shift air raid siren as they were playng 'Lately').

Great band.

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Tolkientaters
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by Tolkientaters »

I hadn't played any CRPGs before Disco Elysium. That being said it did a great job introducing the systems in a clear and understandable way.

Everyone else has already noted how fantastic the writing, voice acting, and music are, but I think the real standout is the interplay of the different aspects of your consciousness; It's a fantastic way to frame all the ideas that the game can throw at you.

The way they can mislead you or occasionally lead you into awful decisions is just brilliant; I haven't played anything like it. It's a fantastic game that really sets itself apart, not just the great writing but the presentation of that writing, I hope we see games take inspiration for how to make dialog the focus in a really dynamic way.

What a game.

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Dyboyl
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by Dyboyl »

First time long time here.

Overall, really enjoyed Disco Elysium. Finished right at the beginning of this year, according to Steam my playthrough was 34 hours.

The style, sound, gameplay, and story all do that thing where they synthesize into a really cohesive and believable world for me.
Unfortunately I think sometimes the unclear/confusing way certain quests play out can totally break that synthesia. I had a few times where I became stuck for long periods and had to consult a guide, something I normally stray away from, because I had no clue how to push a storyline further.

More than once that also happened to be the main story, so I found that frustrating that part of the game everyone would have to play could be so vague.

Looking forward to playing through again in the next few years to get the fully voiced experience, but for all the lines that were voiced I think they generally did a stellar job. I didn't feel inclined to skip to the next line of dialogue like I can in other CRPG's.

Personally I didn't think the game was as neutral in giving you options as it could have been, but the biasing wasn't terrible, just felt like sometimes it was a little too obvious which response was the "right" one and which one the writers put in just to say it was there.

Interesting characters, interesting world, interesting story. No doubt a unique game and I hope the ways that they let you resolve scenarios are something other developers latch on to.

Thanks for reading :D

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elboobio
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Re: 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by elboobio »

My initial impressions of Disco were very high, I loved the art style, the mixture of point n click and RPG genres, the characters and the enchantingly written dialogue. I initially started the game two weeks before the ‘Final Cut’ was released, so after a brief couple hours of gameplay, I decided to wait until the update dropped to really dive into the game.

The extended dialogue hits right from the get go, with the different sections of your psyche chipping in with deep and sometimes hilarious ripostes. Because I’d had a couple of hours ‘trial’ run previously, I made a few tweaks to my build, but in essence my Harrier Du Bois, was an uncharismatic, weakling, savant. What he lacked in charisma and physicality, he more than made up for in sheer intellect. Indeed, Harry’s encyclopedic knowledge came in handy on more occasions than I could count, especially later in the game when I internalised the ‘Wompty Dompty Dom centre’, gaining 10xp and 2 Réal every time I had a successful encyclopedic thought.

Whilst I liked Harry as a protagonist, even with his well trodden trope of having amnesia, he was nothing in comparison to his suave, professional, ultra cool, sidekick, Kim Kitsuragi. I absolutely loved Kim, I would die for Kim, in fact I very nearly did do during the Tribunal. So well written and voice acted, impressing him became my ulterior motive throughout the game, every decision I made first went through the rigorous process of thinking “How would Kim feel if I said/did this”? I never lied to him, I never belittled him, I always backed him up and always wanted to hear his theories before concluding my own. We were a real team, he is truly my half brother. These little moments of endorphin release hit their pinnacle, when just about to wrap the autopsy of the hanged man, I doubted the real cause of death, which led to me retrieving a bullet from inside the dead man's skull with my bare hands. Kim’s amazement and praise felt like a big cuddle from a friendly bear holding an electric blanket. Pride.

Not all was without fault though, like many games I consider masterpieces, nothing can truly be perfect. The locomotion felt a little clunky at times and I found myself regularly having to turn round and go back when a thought popped up as I was running through the streets of Martinaise, but wasn’t quite quick enough to click the little coloured orb before I sped past. If you didn’t follow the dialogue in order, sometimes the conversations didn’t flow quite as well, maybe limiting the choices of dialogue you can make and funneling it down a tighter path could have solved this. I also had a big falling out with the RNG in the game. For the most part I really enjoyed the stakes of making choices that could possibly fail, after all life is all about taking calculated risks. But there were a couple of times when the end of a side quest would rely on a dice roll and no other option to choose. Staring at the 14% chance success rate, for a red check that cannot be backed out of and then receiving a very unsatisfactory conclusion to the quest was pretty demoralising, to the point where I actually performed my own version of a rage quit a couple of times, which in actual fact was more of a child like strop quit (I’m looking at you ‘La Responsibilitié, an hour I spent climbing that bastard horse statue only to fail to speak to the committee). Thankfully, they were very few and once I’d swallowed my pride of satisfactory completionism, I forged on and fell in love again (thanks Karaoke).

The last few hours of the game were really outstanding, from the Tribunal onwards, I was playing the game with a lump in my throat, six people died at the Tribunal, I had to shoot Raul Kortenaer through the face and Kim had to blast Ruud’s eyes out and of course I couldn’t slip into unconsciousness after being shot without warning Kim that De Paule was behind him. But even after the heroics, it was clear that the death of six people was not a great outcome. On top of that, I’d let two suspects slip away, Klaasje and Ruby had both disappeared, partly that was through choice, I never truly believed either were the murderers, and in the end letting Klaasje go proved correct as she led me to the location of the real shooter. The boat ride to the island with Kim was too much for me, the music, the scene, the art, what had transpired before…. I couldn’t hold it back and I teared up. Games seldom get this kind of fervour from me, in fact I can’t think of the last time any entertainment made me feel such a strong emotion. This was multiplied when after successfully interrogating Iosef Lilianovic Dros, I discovered the Insulindian Phasmid, or rather it discovered me. After traipsing round Martinaise checking those bloody traps, believing that eventually I would find something, here it was standing in front of me. What an experience. The end of the game was also very satisfying, even though I was a drunk, racist, fascist, sexist, womaniser (I’m sure I’ve left out a lot of the synonyms Kim used to describe me), he declared I was the greatest detective he’d ever seen (get that bear with the electric blanket back), and the unanimous decision to keep me on as Lieutenant Double-Yefreitor because of my performance throughout this case, filled me with euphoria.

In summary I want more of this, a game that makes me feel a full swathe of emotions, from love, hate, anger, sadness, elation, joy, pride and back to love. Disco Elysium will sit high at the top of my list of greatest games I’ve played.

YEAGH! HARDCORE!

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Seph
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Re: Our next podcast recording (8.5.21): 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by Seph »

For fear of sounding pretentious, Disco Elysium feels to me like the gaming equivalent of Ulysses. By that I mean if you were to break down the plot to its basic points not a lot happens, but it's the journey and incredible depth offered by the presentation that make it something you have to experience for yourself. Most of this, of course, is down to the writing. To explain a little more: Ulysses is my favourite book; not because of the story it tells, but how it tells it.

One thing that's always annoyed me about games criticism and analysis is how the shallow and derivative GTA series is bizarrely lauded for its so-called incredible writing, where it's mostly hackneyed or cliched nonsense. Disco Elysium was clearly written by people who have read deep narrative fiction and philosophy, and not just watched a bunch of Tarantino and Scorsese films.

The characters feel like real people who have pasts, drives and ambitions of their own, they aren't just NPCs in the world for your benefit. Not since my early day of getting into the RPG genre have I wandered around talking to everyone, not just the person I need to complete a quest.

Through this I was not only able to learn more about the world, but also about "myself"; meaning someone in the world will say something that will implant itself into my character and influence how I would approach the rest of the game. To achieve this, it's also to the game's benefit that it encourages you to explore, not just put a place marker on a map and say go here.

By the end of the game I had created a character that felt a little to real to me: a neurotic, clumsy, self-deprecating oath boring everyone within earshot about the joys of communism/socialism.

The game is also not without its faults. I played the Final Cut version on PC and occasionally I would experience bugs and glitches. I've heard the console versions had a bumpy launch. Another gameplay element that stood out to me is the percentages or chance of success on offer for some sections. Maybe there was some hidden mechanic or I'm just not as knowledgeable about this type of game, but I was getting a high success rate with dice rolls that should have been almost impossible. This didn't ruin the game for me, but it made me a little suspicious of the options available.

This is a game that deserves to be bigger and used as an example of modern gaming/storytelling. I have many friends who claim to like this sort of game, but only one of them tried it. The others had little interest because it's a more “real world” setting and not some fantasy realm with dragons and giant swords.

While I'm more than thrilled to experience a completely new IP, part of me wonders how this ZA/UM would fare with an existing property. I'm not saying this is what I think should happen, but I wonder if working on something with name value would help this talented team get the exposure it deserves to get more eyes on the next project. Either way, they've made a fan out of me.

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Nupraptor
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Re: Our next podcast recording (8.5.21): 468 - Disco Elysium

Post by Nupraptor »

This is a wonderful game! It has that unrestrained, anarchic feel that adventure games on PC had back in the 90s. I haven’t personally played something like this for years. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever played *anything* that is truly like this. The closest I can describe it, is as the booze and drug-soaked love child of Monkey Island 2 and Ultima Underworld 2, who has then spent too long in Philosophy and Political Theory classes at University and now wears a beret.
The outrageous non-sequiturs and random tangents to conversations you can engage in, aren’t just funny asides to the game: they are the *core* of the game.
Whether you are improvising a story about a boxer called “Contact Mike”, arguing with your own Reptilian subconscious, or asking to join the “Homosexual Underground”, the writing is always creative and, at least for me, laugh out loud funny.
I’m playing on PS5 on my first playthrough and suspect I’m about 2/3rds through it. I understand that it was originally released without voice acting. I don’t know what it was like to play without the voice acting, but I will say that the voice acting is superb for the main roles and complements the dialogue perfectly.

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