Musings 02 - Disco Elysium

Where do I even begin?

I try to avoid RPGs. They consume too much of my time and I hate abandoning things partway through. But ever so often, I dive deep into one and spend unhealthy amounts of time exploring every nook and cranny of the world presented before me.

My latest obsession was Disco Elysium and it had been on my radar ever since its release date was announced. It sat in my library as I played through the rest of my backlog, but it was hard to ignore once it started sweeping awards. I love going into these games blind and was worried about spoilers becoming commonplace as the game grew more popular. However, my fears were unnecessary. When trying to explain the game to a friend, I found it difficult to describe all the quirks that made it special and how different components of the game interact with each other. It's something worth experiencing on your own and the result is a spectacular ride from start to finish!

I'll admit that I floundered pretty hard for the first hour or so. There was much to take in and almost no hand-holding by the game. But that's part of the charm. It's almost mandatory to fail multiple times on ridiculous stat checks before you become comfortable with the game's expectation of you. And that's when you realize that it's rewarding to not opt for the safe option every single time.

Artwork of the Martinaise district
Martinaise Skyline

On another note, the art and sound direction are amazing. I have noticed that I have a tendency to be drawn towards games purely based on the visual style and/or the soundtrack. Some recent examples include: Katana ZERO, Hades (biased as I love everything by Supergiant), Celeste, and Return of the Obra Dinn.

While all of these games have great design, the distinctive styles elevate the experience and are the reason why they are so memorable for me.

I often have fleeting thoughts about gameplay systems that are interesting in concept, but I'm unable to convert them into an enjoyable mechanic. Then, along comes a studio/individual that easily demonstrates what it should be and how to craft an entire game around it. The conversation system in Disco Elysium is a perfect example of this and worth every bit of praise it's been receiving. I'm certain that it will inspire several similar setups in the future, and that's probably a good thing.

Finally, I had to get my fix somewhere once I finished the game, so I dug around for tidbits on the development process. The story behind the game is as fascinating as the one within it, and it's impressive how driven the creators were in their quest to deliver a unique world. If you have some time to spare, their Dev Blog is worth a read. There are interesting posts starting all the way back in 2016 when the project was titled "No Truce With The Furies".