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Thread: Disco Elysium

  1. #1
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here

    Disco Elysium

    Yeah, we're doing this. TL;CR? First impressions are yes, it's very good.

    Launch trailer:


    So I played half an hour of it, and most of that involved grinning at the screen and how outlandish everything is. There's a neat painterly aesthetic going on, but it pales in comparison to the text. You're apparently a raging alcoholic who woke up after an apocalyptic bender that's erased most of his memory, and it turns out you're a cop who needs to solve a murder case. Depending on how you built your character, you have various skills that help you make sense of the situation (or not). I created a character who's good at logic and psychology, but also has a rich inner imagination (Inland Empire) that tends to... let's say, colour things. Like what my name is, which I don't know yet, but I'm fairly sure it's orange and smells of alcohol. After looking at my face in the mirror, I realised I seem to have a permanent grin on my face, which my Encyclopedia skill tells me is called 'The Expression' because it was a fad 20 years ago. My character also has two health points because he's bad at physical stuff, one of which I lost by having the bad sense to turn the lights on in my bedroom despite having the worst hangover in history.

    And yes, if you caught that up there, apart from people, you also tend to have conversations with your skills. In your head.

    Once I discovered how to get out of my hotel room, I started talking to a bunch of people. While I was questioning a cafeteria manager, he asked me to pay for trashing the room I was staying at. At this point, I didn't really remember what money was, let alone have any. So, to evade the conversation, I chose to do something physical (which I'm bad at [and in the game]), and ran towards the exit then jumped for the doors while twisting around and pumping him a two-finger salute, only to fail the skill check and realise I was about to crash into a lady in a wheelchair.

    At which point, after a collision with a broken pinball machine and a brief conversation with my Endurance, I died.

    Frankly, it's one of the best character deaths I've had in a game. I'm hooked already. There's a lot of character and a lot of text, plus it's unfailingly entertaining with all of the different variables in play.

    However: it's not an RPG in the traditional sense of min-maxing for combat checks. Combat isn't the focus, and when it does happen, it's essentially a set of skill checks for the encounter relayed to you via text instead of drawn-out animations. So if you're looking for tactical play, this isn't going to be it. It's more or less PS:T-inspired but in an alternate 50s Earth with the construction and focus of an adventure game.

    I'm going to reload and continue playing, and hopefully find my right shoe.

  2. #2
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Also I should probably see more than the first five minutes of Inland Empire, huh

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    In spite of liking many of Lynch's earlier films, I utterly failed to get into Inland Empire, sadly enough.

    I'm hoping to finish Outer Wilds tonight or tomorrow, and once I'm done with it I'll get started on Disco Elysium. It sounds like exactly my kind of thing - an RPG which isn't primarily about combat.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    It does look very cool.

  5. #5
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    I am very tempted, and I love the art style. But I'm also aware that too many other games are taking up my time at the moment, so I'll wait 'til I'm bored of them, by which time hopefully the price will have gone down too.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    These days I'm more likely to wait until a game's gone down in price if it's from a big developer. If it's a small (and, in this case, new) one, I'm more likely to buy the game at release and play it early, not least to support them. Which can come back to bite me in the bum if we're talking about RPGs with complex scripts. I'm hoping Disco Elysium won't be too buggy.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I played a couple of hours yesterday, so here are my first impressions:

    Fuck that ceiling fan and light bulb.

    Apart from that, I love it. It’s both in love with itself, its world, characters and writing, and just a tad desperate to be liked for its weirdness, but it also pulls both of those off really well. I can’t remember the last time I found NPCs this memorable; usually in RPGs they’re copies of copies of archetypes, except for the handful that have had some care given to them. Here, at least at the beginning, everything’s been given care. You can spend too much time just going through a single object or conversation, but I don’t mind because it’s always interesting. I may not always listen to the voice acting until it’s finished a bit (and in one case I was actively glad when a conversation continued without voice acting), but I savour the text. It’s rich, grimy, more than a bit ludicrous, but there are ideas there and talent. It’s the kind of writing where the richness is the point, even if it can become overwhelming and when it is very clearly self-indulgent. I would have no hesitation to recommend this to anyone who liked the original Planescape game - though if you disliked that one, you may want to stay away from Disco Elysium too... or at least of its fans, because I expect they’ll be as devoted to this one.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I'm now three (in-game) days into Disco Elysium and I am definitely impressed. Usually RPGs with lots of role-playing options tend to be bugfests, but I've yet to find anything that I would clearly be able to identify as a bug. The game also integrates the various abilities smoothly into the narrative flow, so you don't constantly think of stats and dice rolls. And finally, Disco Elysium does a good job of making failed rolls a part of the game so you're not constantly tempted to save scum: many stat checks can be redone once you've raised the stat in question, and even outright failure can lead to interesting story beats.

    The game isn't perfect: there's for instance, a map screen that lists available dice rolls that you can try or retry, but it just gives you a very rough location (too rough to be very useful), the briefest of labels (e.g. "Pile of clothes"), the skill in question and the overall difficulty - but these amass so quickly, I would very much like to have one or two sentences to remind me what pile of clothes I can interact with and what it's all about.

    What has surprised me is that while the game is very funny much of the time - however you shape him and his abilities, your character is a total fuck-up, and Disco Elysium gives him so many opportunities to show just how fucked up he is - there is an underlying melancholy in the world and characters that I really dig, not least because it's got a lightness of touch about this.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Wow, there really isn't anyone else here currently playing Disco Elysium? I finished it over the weekend, and there are some things about the ending that are underwhelming, but there is also a moment that is absolute magic, paying off a low-key plot strand beautifully. There's also one of the most imaginative, evocative images in gaming since the roof came apart in Act III of Kentucky Route Zero and revealed the starry sky.

    I think Disco Elysium may have ruined me for RPGs for a while, since it did something I absolutely love: there's no RPG combat whatsoever as you would expect it. There is some fighting, but it's narrative, not tactical. It's rare that I actively enjoy RPG combat, so I hope that there will be some future RPGs that take inspiration from Disco Elysium in that respect.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    Its on my wishlist but its more the price which is putting me off getting it atm.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I bought it, partly based on what I read from Thirith and Sulphur here, but my near-future queue is pretty full right now. I'm eager to play it, though, and it's one of those rare games I'm sure I'll like.

    I realize it may go on sale before I play it, but a little like Thirith I like to pay full price early to support small or new developers trying something bold and different, especially if the early reviews and comments suggest the developers have been reasonably successful in their ambitions.

  12. #12
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Picked this up on Friday in the GOG sale, and I must say that graphically, this is the prettiest game I've played in a long time. It looked special in the screenshots I'd seen, but it's amazing in motion. It's somewhat reminiscent of Viktor Antonov's work on Half Life 2 / Dishonored, and has a very coherent sense of place and character. It's like impressionist oils in motion.
    It's truly a lovely thing, and so far, I'm massively impressed.
    I hope these guys get the chance to do more of this kind of thing.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I'm not sure I'd call the game pretty, as the art is grimy and pungent, but it is definitely a striking, unique and (to my mind) pleasing art style. I don't think I've seen anything like this in any other game, and it fits Disco Elysium's tone so well. It's definitely more than a little refreshing to see a game that takes more aesthetic pointers from the likes of Francis Bacon than from generic sci-fi or fantasy paperback covers.

  14. #14
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    By pretty I'm trying to convey that the artistic talent on display is phenomenal and contains remarkable beauty. It has a concrete identity that manages to pass beyond photorealistic reproduction and better convey emotion and complexity. Pretty's just shorter

    I managed to rid RaphaŽl Ambrosius Costeau (that's his name, and he won't be told otherwise) of "The Expression" last night, and I'm a little sad, as his portrait now looks glum instead of happy

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    For that value of 'pretty' I am definitely in full agreement. Disco Elysium *is* pretty.

  16. #16
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Well I got it. Kind of breaking my rule on what to hold out for and at what price, but eh, it's got some character.

    It reminds me of Matrix gaming, which if you don't know is a style of role playing where basically it's like open ended storytelling between players and a DM in a set world and loose plot-arc where the players can request to do literally anything each "turn". The DM then computes a probability score for the request and rolls dice to see if it eventuates. And then the DM just runs with it in the storytelling. And it plays a lot like this game; or rather this game plays a lot like a Matrix game, just not as totally open ended, But in return this game is quite story (or anyway world- and character-immersing) driven, and the writing is very good. So it's okay.

    I like it so far. It's a point & click adventure with some bullet point interactive fiction core, with the RPG side, great environments and wicked and fun tone. If there's more I haven't gotten to it yet. I should report with a better opinion after I've finished.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    At first I thought Disco Elysium was fun and smart but not necessarily very deep, that there were tons of possibilities and options but that it merely scratched the surface of the world and characters. As it went on, I think that a lot of what seemed a bit glib and jokey at first gathered a more melancholy note. Sure, I'll remember the game as "the one where I died trying to get my tie down from the ceiling fan", but Disco Elysium accumulates moments of introspection, sadness, strangeness and poignancy that I haven't found elsewhere in gaming, except perhaps around the margins of the likes of Kentucky Route Zero and Night in the Woods (though the latter has a very different energy and a much clearer political perspective), while still integrating the jokes and out-there weirdness.

    I really liked Alec Meer's recent RPS post on the game. It's more about the feelings the game evoked in Alec than about the game's ideas, but I think this is a valid approach to this particular game, and a lot of what he wrote resonated with me.

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