Elysium Disc - Analysis
Reluctantly, we leave our cabin to enter the world of Disco Elysium, a fictional universe that presents us with a harsh reality that inherits much of the noir genre with a decadent society, afflicted, corrupt, fragile and violent characters . As if it were the last drop of a bottle of bourbon, our detective must solve the crime that has clouded one of the most remote areas of Revachol. Just behind our lodge is a man who has been hanging from a tree for a week. Its advanced state of decomposition already indicates that Disco Elysium is a kind of mixture of emotions and sensations, going from frivolity to fear or violence in a single breath.
Our amnesiac character is a clear example of this range of sensations, emotions and abilities. This situational trinomial is presented as the playable skeleton that Estonian ZA / UM have crafted to create a unique and unique role-playing game. Moving away from the bases and contemporary playable models ZA / UM presents a proposal fully focused on the development of our character and on the ability to make decisions . Do not expect an RPG to use, if you want a role-playing game like Pillars of Eternity or Divinity Original Sin. Don't expect turn-based combat or intricate skill trees. At Disco Elysium our only weapon, in most cases, will be our own ability to lead the conversation to our terrain.
Persuading, influencing, intimidating, convincing, entertaining or simply posing a good threat will be our weapons when it comes to solving this crime that has ravaged the streets of the Martinaise district and that we intuit has something to do with the conflict that exists in the area between port workers and logistics company Wild Pines. For this reason, the work of ZA / UM is presented as an amalgam that transits between the most classic role-playing game and the graphic adventure point and click . In fact, Disco Elysium emerges as an embryo of those role-playing games that Estonians have been enjoying since its foundation in 2009.
As players we will have something more to say and, in fact, the first impression that one gets is that we are facing a work with limited gameplay and much more focused on emphasizing the script, its narrative possibilities and its setting . It is simply a matter of giving him time, a lot of time, to understand how the mind and body of our character develops and evolves.
Body and mind, tortured and squeezed elements that materialize and present themselves to the player in the form of an insane hangover. This resource gives us the possibility of defining a character from scratch based on four elements, the intellect, the psyche, the physical and the motor skills . When starting the game we can choose a predetermined personality that meets the classic stereotypes of intelligent, social or physical character, although we can also choose to assign the points to our choice. This will define the orientation of our character and how the rest of the skills that define those four pillars influence each and every one of the conversations we have. Skills that can be improved as we get skill points, all of this, as always, from a merely conversational approach.
These skills , which can range from empathy or perception to conceptualization, will determine our focus as a character, our strengths and our weaknesses. These skills will define our character's sheet and allow us to make better or worse decisions as we progress through the game. And it is not something new that has not been explored until now. Studies like Supermassive Games or Quantic Dream have brought this decision-making capacity to being able to really influence the evolution of events, with greater or less ease and result.
Decisions that unfortunately in many cases will be a random element that will end up deciding in our favor or against . Apart from the statistical and percentage elements, the dice system allows some combinations that guarantee success - with a double six - or failure - with a double one. This leaves us with a feeling of disconnection between the skill system and what really happens in the game, subtracting its credibility and leaving it in an element that is halfway between what is and what could have been.
This is accompanied by an elaborate customization system for our character. After the initial impasse of recovering our clothes - and incidentally our dignity - as we advance in the adventure we can get new elements and accessories that improve certain attributes of our personality. It is not something that we have found excessively relevant, but it allows us to establish that latent similarity between the classic gameplay of the games more focused on improving combat statistics while at Disco Elysium we invest them in sharpening our most human abilities .
Probably the Elysium Disc element that breaks the most is the thought box . It is noteworthy how, at certain moments in the adventure, our psyche will allow us to ask ourselves questions based on glimpses of our memory. As flashes of the past we will glimpse that there is something behind that moment of lucidity. It will be our decision to invest the time in developing that memory speck to delve into it and extract all the juice. After that time the game will reward us with the precious information in addition to improving our primary skills.
But that this limited -between quotation marks- gameplay does not prevent us from seeing the exuberant and overwhelming work of ZA / UM in storytelling and narrative ramifications . If Detroit: Become Human had more than 2000 script pages, Disco Elysium should have a few more zeros added to the end, and this is where ZA / UM's work becomes a niche game. A role-playing game at maximum power . We will witness deep conversations with a multitude of characters with their fully defined personalities. It is true that some of them will be based on the most classic stereotypes, but the work of Estonians in relation to the theme of these is enough to remove their hats.
Racism, sex, politics, morality, violence or drugs will be just some of the topics on which the adventure will take place . In some cases from a somewhat frivolous perspective, although there will always be room for those players who want to take their detective role a little more seriously. However, Disco Elysium is excessively lenient with our decisions , as if in the end he was afraid of himself or of the consequences or paths that the player decides to choose. It does not reach the limitations of the false freedom of other titles, but it remains one step away from the true capacity to decide on the totality of our actions. Decisions that in many moments will only depend on ourselves and the conversations we have with our psyche.
These conversations with our own being have been of the best moments and have shone to a very high level. An element that also does not facilitate accessibility to Elysium Disk is the language. The game is only available in English where it also uses very specific locations with dialects and local expressions, making it difficult to understand certain conversations. An element that wears constantly and gradually.
All these characters will populate the Martinaise area, a vast space in which we can move freely. We will be able to freely interact with certain elements, although we will also have accessibility limitations that will be reduced as we progress through the adventure. It is not irritating or frustrating as the development of the adventure always subtly tells you where to go after the last conversation through the mission and task system. And as if it were a canvas our detective and his companion will move through beautiful environments fully in 3D. On a fixed camera we will visit decadent exteriors and interiors, a mark of the noir style. Although the scenes and animations are at a correct level, the illustrations, with a marked watercolor style , further exemplify that decadence that gives the game a personality that comes right hand in hand.