Modern gaming has led to a lot of advancements, the most interesting being the idea of what is and is not a game. When it released in 2009, Disco Elysium created waves by taking both gaming and visuals novels to an interesting place. Instead of focusing on the words or the gameplay, it chooses to double down on the role-playing aspect, making it very similar to tabletop games. The idea was less the destination, as much as the journey as you describe, per the tag line, what kind of cop are you. With changes, enhancements, and new platforms, Disco Elysium – The Final Cut hopes to achieve the same level of success, but will it be enough to sell newcomers?
Before even entering the world of Disco Elysium – The Final Cut, players are asked to decide on their character. This is where the tabletop aspects are on full display. With a set amount of attribute points, players need to decide how important intellect, psyche, physique, and motorics are for their character. It’s strongly advised, to get the full experience, to take a moment to consider what kind of character you want to be and build towards that.
Following that players are asked to decide on a signature skill. Each attribute and skill set have their own distinct impact on the experience. Those who value intellect will see more of the lore behind Disco Elysium – The Final Cut, whereas physique relies on intimidation. Naturally, subsequent runs can be done with different skills to see new and different events not possible or likely when compared to another run.
After deciding who you want to be, Disco Elysium – The Final Cut opens with a gruff older gentleman in a shabby unkempt apartment. Unfortunately, in addition to suffering from a hangover, you have no memory of who you are. Checking around the apartment can give you an idea of what you might’ve done or like to do, though through trial and error you meet up with Lieutenant Kim Kitsuragi.
Kim explains that you’re, if this wasn’t already clear, a cop and need to investigate what happened to the man hung to death. With a handful of clues, the two of you look into what happened and try to discover who exactly you are. These answers will lead down some really fascinating paths, though, like most role-playing games, you only get out what you put in.
Most major choices in Disco Elysium – The Final Cut are dictated by a roll. Those with a background in things like Dungeons and Dragons or at least know a little about them might be familiar with the concept, which basically comes down to odds and chance. Based on the action, certain builds will have a favorable or unfavorable outcome. One of the earliest chance encounters is getting your tie-down from the fan. Those with a lot of motorics will do this effortlessly, whereas if luck is against you, it’s entirely possible to die.
Most outcomes are not quite that grim, though they will determine what dialogue paths you can explore and experiences will be available. Failing locks the option, indicating it cannot be repeated or changed. And, in a lot of ways, this is part of what makes Disco Elysium – The Final Cut so engaging.
Most visual novels have set guidelines and predetermined outcomes. Typically, it comes down to three or four really random replies that dictate whether you’re in a harem, alone, or save the universe. For Disco Elysium – The Final Cut, there is no telling what outlandish thing you’ll get lucky and achieve or surefire event you’ll somehow fail. It also allows players to step more into their character. It gives every experience a unique flow and oftentimes forces players to come up with a different way to approach a situation.
Unfortunately, as nice as the core adventure and the idea is, Disco Elysium – The Final Cut isn’t the most user-friendly gameplay experience. When you’re not investigating characters, players can interact with a plethora of things. Each of these can be selected by toggling between them with the thumbstick, which takes away from some of the discovery, as now you know all the possible items in that room, along with it occasionally not working as intended. The character might move towards it or not quite interact with it correctly, making it slightly more frustrating than it needs to be.
Disco Elysium – The Final Cut Review – Verdict
It goes without saying, Disco Elysium – The Final Cut is going to be a divisive experience. Some people are going to love all the dialogue, options, and role-playing elements. Even returning fans will flip at the voiceovers that really make the experience immersive. This just won’t appeal to everyone. Some players will want to do more or possibly get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of dialogue, which totals over 1 million words, though for those this appeals to, it will really appeal to.
[Editor’s Note: Disco Elysium – The Final Cut was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and a copy was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]