At some point during my time with Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, after reading another minute-long dialogue series to try and get more information about the game’s murder mystery, I realized I felt like I was slowly working my way through a full-length novel – one that was just a little went over my head.
In The final selection, an enhanced version of the cult-hit role-playing game from 2019 that made its console debut on PlayStation in March, you play as an amnesiac agent investigating a murder case about a hanged man. Explore a fictional place called Revachol and talk to a massive cast of characters to gather clues about the hanged man’s murderer.
Almost every conversation or interaction has an expanded dialogue tree, so you can respond to or lead a conversation that can affect other moments in the game. One time I convinced someone to take the jacket off my back, which I could then wear. I declined money to another person so that my character wouldn’t feel in debt to him.
At times, these interactions can drag on and feel a bit like a chapter in a book that just won’t end. But the spelling of the game is sharp and often quite funny, which makes reading the game most of the time worthwhile.
Disco Elysium takes place in what I imagine to be a parallel universe to ours. Characters often refer to countries, races and historical figures that do not exist in our world, but are at the heart of the social and ideological makeup. While Elysium’s Disco Incredible depth of historical detail made Revachol feel like a real place, at times I struggled to keep facts and information straight.
However, you don’t just talk to other people: any of the 24 different parts of your personality, such as your sense of logic, calm, or authority, can have discussions to discuss and debate about what’s going on, sometimes even with each other . Others. It’s a bit like Pixar’s Inside out, if it was a murder mystery.
But just like the historical details packed into the game, these traits can also have their own inscrutability. During my playthrough, a feature sometimes passed on short stories about other police officers. Another, as far as I could tell, was something like a sixth sense about Revachol himself. As each of your personalities jumps in, you have more text to read. Usually they add useful context, but sometimes I wish they hadn’t said anything at all so I could move on to the next part of the game sooner.
You can also level them all up as “skills” to give you advantages during the game. For example, I put a lot of points into my empathy skill, which meant that Empathy (the character) often came in with advice on how to respond empathetically in a situation.
Placing points in skills also aids in checks, where the game rolls a virtual die to determine if you pass an important action. (Saying the right thing in a conversation can also help with a check’s potential success.) You can retry most failed checks by upgrading a specific skill.
However, some checks can only be tried once, and I liked that one the most – I always held my breath waiting to see whether or not I succeeded. They also felt that they had the most impact on the story itself, especially towards the end where a dice roll can mean the difference between someone living or dying.
Overall, the game’s systems provide a fun twist on typical role-playing mechanics. Rather than improving external abilities like magical power or speed, it really feels like you’re building your character’s personality.
Developer Studio ZA / UM has added a number of new features to the original game, which was first released in October 2019, for The final selection. Every line is now fully voiced and the acting is always excellent. There are a number of new quests that allow you to explore your character’s political ideologies. And The final selection marks the game’s first appearance on consoles, on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. (It is coming to Xbox consoles and Nintendo Switch later this yearThe game was a bit buggy for me on PS5, especially at launch, but Studio ZA / UM released several patches that fixed most of the issues I ran into.
Bugs weren’t the only thing that detracted from my experience, though. The game sends you to a brief loading screen every time you switch to a new area, which got annoying over the course of the 24 hours I spent with it. To get to the Quests menu, you have to press the button three times. And the text is very small, even on the largest setting.
But if you are willing to immerse yourself in the world of Revachol and endure some minor annoyances along the way, Disco Elysium tells a satisfying story that I really enjoyed. Like a huge, epic novel, the game can be puzzling, opaque and a little too long at times. But as is often the case for stories like that, it’s worth plodding through the boring stuff to see the game all the way to its fantastic ending. I am glad I read this in its entirety.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut is now available on PS4, PS5, PC, Mac and Stadia. It will be released on Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S and Nintendo Switch later this year.