One of the most intriguing games I saw at EGX last week was Disco Elysium: A Detective RPG from ZA/UM. The demo opened with one of the most surreal introductions to a game I’ve experienced. Your character, a disgraced detective from Revachol West is having a conversation with his inner-self while you try to figure out whether you are dead, or just suffering a severe case of memory loss.
After I finished talking to my own psyche, the game proper started. A dishevelled, naked man awakes on the floor of a grubby room at the local inn, this is you, and your character is a blank slate that you will shape and develop through the conversations you have, the skills you choose to invest in, and an inventory where you can store thoughts that will be developed over time.
Once I had dressed my unnamed detective, I set him stumbling out of the room onto a landing overlooking a bar. Heading downstairs, I approached the barman to figure out what had happened to my detective. It turned out that the barman wasn’t too keen on providing much insight, primarily because my detective had failed to pay for the room for the past three nights and had caused some havoc in the bar to boot.
All the while during the conversation with the barman, different elements and traits of your psyche share their own thoughts with you, while some dialogue or action options are dependent on your various skills. I’ll be honest, it takes some getting used to, having these other parts of your own character talking to you, trying to sway your decisions to their own agenda.
It was worth sticking with and getting used to, as alongside the inner-workings of your mysterious detective, there is a murder to solve. The barman sends you off in the direction of a Lieutenant from a neighbouring district. Kim Kitsuragi has been sent to find you and assist with the murder investigation. He immediately senses something is off, and when he asks your name, the options are varied and wild. I chose a neutral option to sidestep his enquiry, but others could have potentially had a dire effect on your working relationship.
Once I started to investigate the murder, and speak to the potential witnesses and suspect parties, I started to realise that the story at hand was about more than just learning more about your mysterious detective. The city of Revachol West is a living and breathing location, filled with corruption, secret organisations…and the odd murder or two.
After the initial surrealism of the introduction, I was immediately engrossed. The unknowns around your character, the murder, the city itself and of course, the character development that comes with your skills. I didn’t have many skill points to play with and didn’t have enough time to fully understand the links between skills and the battles of your internal monologue. But put simply, the more you invest in different skills, the more prominent they will be in your internal monologue, and the greater effect they will have on how you interact with the world around you.
This is a game I keenly feel the need to learn more about and is my unofficial Game of the Show (sorry What the Golf?). I highly recommend heading over to the official website for more information. If the screenshots and video seem familiar to you, you might be interested to know that until earlier this year, Disco Elysium was known as No Truce With the Furries. I like this name better.