Video Game Review: Disco Elysium

I don’t do many video game reviews, just reviews of games that I think have a great story and might be relevant to a story-writing, book-reading blog.

And this one. This one.

Disco Elysium is a miracle of an indie game produced by ZA/UM.  It’s usually $39.99 on Steam, and it’s worth every single penny. It’s unlikely to go on sale anytime soon, as it came out in 2019 and is racking up award after award.

You don’t need to read further if you don’t want. This game is amazing. But it needs more disco.

disco elysium 2020 reviews video game

Non-Spoiler Review

Traditional gamers who are into shooters or platformers exclusively probably won’t give a crap about this game. There’s absolutely no mechanics to it that require skill of any sort. The game is almost exclusively dialogue choices, interacting with objects, a lot of running, and feelings.

So what’s this game about? Well, let me show you a screen shot of how it opens.

disco elysium start image

You wake up naked in a busted hostel room, still drunk but with a hangover. You have no memories of who you are, where you are, or what you’re doing. There are voices in your head telling you what to do (each of them clearly a part of yourself).

Upon putting on clothes and exiting your room, you quickly find out that you’re a cop who was sent to investigate a lynching in the hotel’s back yard three days ago. Your primary duties were to get the body out of the tree, question important subjects, not lose your gun, and not lose your badge.

You did none of those things.

The game lets you be weird, spontaneous, and political (I went with the full-on-Ayn-Rand boner because it gave you more money).

You’ll laugh. You’ll certainly feel like an existential crisis.

dolores dei

Hints and Tips

I’m not doing spoilers, per se, because that’s lame crap. This game is too good and new to spoil.

Decide Up Front about Save Scumming

This game is really easy to save scum (which means to save, try an option that is random chance, then re-load if you fail to roll well enough). The game does not punish you too much for failing rolls, so don’t be afraid if you would rather not save scum.

I did some save scumming. If I felt like it was important enough, I would save scum. A lot of people can make it through without cheating, but I had to get what I wanted, and I don’t feel bad about it.

Beg Money off of EVERYONE

You’re poor in this game. Egregiously poor. I suggest asking literally everyone for money.

Use the Phone on the Third Day

On the third day, you get access to a new area. On that new area, you’ll find an active payphone.

disco elysium payphone

Despite it being so hard to get money, USE IT ON THE PHONE. IT IS YOUR ONE TRUEST QUEST DO IT.

Make van Eyck’s Jam Harder Core

First, of course, you need to find the ravers in a tent and do their quest, but then you need to find a magnetic tape in a tree and give it to Egg Head. Just type in “Make van Eyck’s Jam Harder Core walkthrough” into Google and follow a let’s play, honestly. I didn’t, but I got lucky.

Put Some Points in Authority

Trust me, there’s one place in the game where you’ll want authority. It doesn’t need to be your primary stat, but you should have a few – it gets clutch…

Prepare for Existential Crisis

Yes. Prepare.

dolores dei

 

7 thoughts on “Video Game Review: Disco Elysium

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve no patience for Video games. I got a Monopoly game to play with the kids during this time. It arrived last week but it is still in the box, the kids don’t have any mood to play it. 😦

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      If you ever get the chance to play it, I highly recommend it. I doubt you like it as much as “Life is Strange”, but it’s got a similar choose-your-own-adventure feel.

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