Home Reviews Disco Elysium review – a new standard of RPG writing

Disco Elysium review – a new standard of RPG writing


In a shanty town of tarpaulin and corrugated steel, a drunk is telling me a story about how he slipped and fell on his arse. I pick the cocky conversational response: “I would’ve landed on my feet. I have feline reflexes.” Turns out this is a hidden skill check against my sense of Savoir Faire, which replies: “No, you don’t.” I just got burned by my own psyche.

The drunk continues with a peremptory “whatever”, and there’s no discernible gameplay impact. But I laugh out loud, despite being a little hurt on my character’s behalf. I feel like I understand him better, and that I sympathise with him more.

The drunk rambles on, and a story that began as a light hearted, relatable tale of alcohol-induced misfortune takes a tragic turn as the consequences escalate: he loses his comfy house, his glamorous girlfriend, his lucrative job. The drunk blames all his current misery on that one heavy night. Guilt stings at having been so blasé in my initial reply, but there’s just a touch of ambiguity about his story, an attitude of backward-looking self-pity, and a hint that he had options to explore – and perhaps still does – which make him not unalloyedly sympathetic. This is what Disco Elysium is like.

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