Review: Disco Elysium

When I was a kid I talked to myself. I was an only child, but also an introvert with an active imagination. I never created an imaginary friend that I named, but I did talk to myself a lot. A second version of myself displaced; someone I could argue with to solidify my point of view or show off something cool I did. I’m not going to lie – I still do it occasionally as an adult. Not nearly as often, but sometimes yourself is the best company.

Disco Elysium is a game about talking to yourself. You play as a guy who wakes up in a hotel room with complete amnesia. You don’t know your name, who you are, what you’re doing there, or why your tie is hanging from the ceiling fan. But you do have 24 differing voices in your head that talk to you and you can talk back to them. Sometimes you should listen to them – and sometimes they give you very bad advice.

Disco Elysium is also a game about talking to other people. And while the greater story is an interesting and captivating mystery that you have to deduce the answer to through careful interrogations (or brash, depending on your choice), a lot of the charm and fun of the game are the conversations with yourself. And a lot of the uniqueness comes from your actions determining what kind of person these emotions are piloting. Is he a communist? A feminist? A fascist? A hobocop? How you act towards other people shapes your inner thoughts, and then your inner thoughts get more and more of a say in your outer conversations.

Disco Elysium is a game that spoke to me (ha!) on many levels and that I enjoyed my time with immensely. I’ll spoil the ending of this review right now: if you like dialogue-heavy branching RPGs, just go ahead and play this now, you don’t need my review. But if you want to hear more about this game works and more plot details – read on.

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