The GWJ CRPG Club - Game 14: Disco Elysium (In Progress)

I just started. I have no idea what I am doing. The game seems to revel in my character's failures in a way I am not sure I like. I have goals I cannot seem to achieve, so I am wandering around directionless, talking to random people.

I will keep plugging for a bit, at least get through a couple of days. But I'm not sure about this.

tboon wrote:

I just started. I have no idea what I am doing. The game seems to revel in my character's failures in a way I am not sure I like. I have goals I cannot seem to achieve, so I am wandering around directionless, talking to random people.

I will keep plugging for a bit, at least get through a couple of days. But I'm not sure about this.

I felt that way at first, and at times I still do. But at some point it's come together enough that I'm genuinely enjoying the ride.

It's a weird mashup that's for sure. From the character creation screen I was attempting to "game" a path through, because there are statistics and attributes and dice rolls. There are green successes. There are red failures. The sign posts say one thing. The journey says another. Broadly speaking. So, I needed to test a few different outcomes with a few select instances, to see for myself. And true enough, it's a quirky often inverted approach. Sometimes the green success is worse than the red failure. *circuits frying* Other times it appears to be neither here nor there in a roundabout way, to add colour, or seasoning, if you will. *analysis paralysis theory crafting seems wasted*

Relearning to go with the flow, even outlandish failures, is a task and a half. It is strangely rewarding and oddly refreshing, mind you.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

Do you have a sense for how long it took you?

I didn't time it exactly, but I guess something around 20 hours? I've passed 50 hours played, between my two full playthroughs and some extra exploring different character builds.

Alien Love Gardener wrote:
Godzilla Blitz wrote:

Do you have a sense for how long it took you?

I didn't time it exactly, but I guess something around 20 hours? I've passed 50 hours played, between my two full playthroughs and some extra exploring different character builds.

Cool thanks!

Godzilla Blitz wrote:
tboon wrote:

I just started. I have no idea what I am doing. The game seems to revel in my character's failures in a way I am not sure I like. I have goals I cannot seem to achieve, so I am wandering around directionless, talking to random people.

I will keep plugging for a bit, at least get through a couple of days. But I'm not sure about this.

I felt that way at first, and at times I still do. But at some point it's come together enough that I'm genuinely enjoying the ride. :)

I'm right there with both of you. I'm in day 2 now, and throughout my play so far I've noticed myself working uphill against my min-maxer tendencies at times, flitting between story segments and looking around for skill checks I can pass rather than pursuing the most interesting thing. and view failure as another step of the story. Disco Elysium definitely challenges the way I like to play. Essentially, I'm trying to take this feedback to heart:

DC Malleus wrote:

You’ve really got to get out of the traditional ‘find the path’ way of thinking to enjoy DE to it’s fullest. Each playthrough will tell a new story (seriously, there are whole sections I missed in my first run and I thought I’d done everything), and worrying about failing checks will detract from the overall experience for you. I ended up just thinking of each check as a narrative branch instead, dictated by the general strengths and weaknesses my supercop had developed under my tenure.

I'm going to share a moment that really helped this click, for me. Early-game spoilers below, dealing with inspecting the body and the debrief with Kim at the end of day 1.

Spoiler:

Noting the legendary (14) endurance check to look at the body without throwing up, and my character's terrible physique (2 overall, 0 points in endurance), I didn't even try to inspect the body on day 1. I knew I'd fail. But at the end of the day, Kim called me out on it. So I thought, I wonder what would have happened if I'd tried? I reloaded a save before the debrief, went to inspect the body, and ... sure enough, couldn't hold it in. But the game seems to expect this. I'm a barely functional alcoholic and drug addict, and this is a week-old corpse, of course I'd vomit. The game walked me through the following steps:

  • Maybe get some ammonia from the gardener? (+1 to the check, may try again).
  • Okay, that DEFINITELY didn't work. In a moment of tough love, Kim told me to "get my sh*t together," which triggered the "Volumetric Sh*t Compresser" thought in my catalogue. This only took 30 minutes to research, and -- once finished -- re-opened the check.
    Side note: Kim's a great cop. Very savvy, and knows the right thing to say to get through to people in the right moment. I've loved watching him work. He's also much more curious than he lets on. He gets exasperated by my wide-eyed child of a character, but I also sense he loves investigating the tangential stuff I get into.
    Second side note: the writing is exceptional here. After being told to get my sh*t together, my main character spent 30 minutes internalizing the idea of literal, compacted excrement.
  • But it was late, and I didn't get my sh*t compressed in time. So I debriefed with Kim again. His dialogue changed a bit to note the difference. Nice touch.
  • That night, away from Kim's watchful eyes, I split some speed with Cuno. Felt a little bad about it. But it was worth it to get in with the kid. I also talked with him about how he handles the stench.
  • Next morning, I had a whopping +8 to my check: +6 from Volumetric Sh*t Compressor," +1 from "Cunofied Nonvomitor," and +1 from "It's time," presumably because I didn't do this on day 1.

    So in other words, the story expected I'd fail, and didn't gate me out of plot developments. This'll definitely help encourage me to take more risks.

I haven't totally succeeded in playing this game without looking up stuff. I love learning about how systems work in RPGs, and so I've of course looked up stuff about the Thought Cabinet, which led me to learn about the different thoughts. I'm not sorry I did this, because I know there are some thoughts I wouldn't want hanging around in my head, and I did a little bit of save-scumming to unlock the Actual Art Degree thought.

Spoiler:

+10 XP for every single passive Conceptualization check? Yes please!

And my cop is definitely very middle-of-the road. You can tell I'm not an extremist because I unlocked the communist, moralist, and capitalist thoughts all after the same conversation! What can I say, I have a little bit of sympathy for every position, and living in a post-war wasteland makes me question idealogues.

Great points, LS!

I've started to just enjoy the ride and try all the skill checks. Up to Day 3 now, and the back half of Day 2 was pretty productive, despite not really caring about being productive.

Looking forward to seeing what Day 3 brings.

I'm struggling. There's much political peddling. Communism. Fascism. Liberalism. *fun fizzles* *intrigue rises* Choose! What? Choose! Why? Choose! Fine. Then be derided for those choices, or for a lack thereof. Um. Thanks, I think.

Be labelled. Be confused. Was I not paying enough attention. Did I misconstrue. Whatever. Ignore. There's an unlock scenario wasted! *restartitis rumblings stir*

The clock mechanic brings analysis paralysis for what to do, and when to do, and for how long to do. My path feels so disjointed and incomplete as a result. I dislike this. Fear of missing out. Fear of choosing poorly.

The thought cabinet necessitates a skill point to remove thoughts that you cannot see the evolution of until they're locked in. On top of the temporary + or - whilst getting there. I dislike this. It's counterintuitive to a character creator. It can chew up earned experience points to course correct. It feels a loose interpretation of playing your way.

I think I might shelve this and play something else for a while. I'm not sure. I may need to readjust my expectations and my approach. At present it feels the only control may be to roll with the alcohol, and with the drugs, and spin everyone with banter. Be wacky. Revel in random. Who cares. What's the point. Be a Superstar. Parody. Parody. Parody.

It's irritating as I like the depth to the writing and the variety across the characters. The musical score is great. The art style unique. If only I could settle and find a rhythm. It's not really meshing for control, for neat and tidy, for completion, not with me anyway.

Ramblings.

I've got a bit further in, with only having small periods to play here & there. Cuno has actually started to communicate, which I thought was a minor miracle. The body still hangs from the tree, can't stomach the smell it seems.

I'm finding more & more out about our lead characters past

Spoiler:

one particular note that seemed to be from his wife/partner that read like she was deeply in love with 'Harry' obviously your characters name. She gets up in the morning, leaves Harry in bed, the sadness builds as she walks down Voyager Road (clue about where you actually live) & gets further away. This feeling gets stronger as she travels on the tram & doesn't subside until she's on her way back to him. It's a deeply personal letter that obviously hits a nerve really hard as it's an emotional punch to the gut & our detective passes out. I thought it was a game over but it transitions into an exact replica when you started the game, unconscious, wanting to stay in darkness etc. I think this love of Harry's will trigger these spells of fainting as he finds out revelatory information about their relationship as the game progresses, there's obviously guilt there on his part & his mental state can't take the effect this letter has on him.

I'm very intrigued on this front going forward, I expect more consequential revelations.

On the thought cabinet, I've had a few pop up but none that I really want to commit to, would I be missing out not taking some of these ideologies/thoughts on board? I don't like the negative effects they carry, well most of them so far.

RnRClown wrote:

I'm struggling. There's much political peddling. Communism. Fascism. Liberalism. *fun fizzles* *intrigue rises* Choose! What? Choose! Why? Choose! Fine. Then be derided for those choices, or for a lack thereof. Um. Thanks, I think.

Be labelled. Be confused. Was I not paying enough attention. Did I misconstrue. Whatever. Ignore. There's an unlock scenario wasted! *restartitis rumblings stir*

I was wondering last night if I'd have enjoyed the regular version of DE better than the current version. I'm enjoying the game, but the political element hasn't resonated with me either. It doesn't stress me out, but it washes over me and doesn't really sink in.

RnRClown wrote:

The clock mechanic brings analysis paralysis for what to do, and when to do, and for how long to do. My path feels so disjointed and incomplete as a result. I dislike this. Fear of missing out. Fear of choosing poorly.

The advice here to just enjoy the ride was really helpful for me. To me the game really feels more like an adventure game than an RPG in how it plays out. I get that you can play in all sorts of ways/roles, and there are stats and skills, etc., but ultimately it feels like you're trying to clear certain obstacles and move the story along. The RPG elements feel secondary to the story, the dialog, the characters. I also feel like the game has "carried me" if I fell behind in certain tasks.

RnRClown wrote:

The thought cabinet necessitates a skill point to remove thoughts that you cannot see the evolution of until they're locked in. On top of the temporary + or - whilst getting there. I dislike this. It's counterintuitive to a character creator. It can chew up earned experience points to course correct. It feels a loose interpretation of playing your way.

At first this bothered me as well, but I keep feeling like the story is helping me along no matter what skills I have, no matter what choices I make, and no matter how badly I screw up. The character development and skill level doesn't feel that critical to a successful game. Maybe I'll get totally stuck and regret this, but for the moment I'm just opening up every thought cabinet slot and internalizing the thought, then erasing the ones I don't like.

Another hour in today, I'm up to a little past noon on Day 3. The morning was surprisingly interesting.

More pieces of my broken past fell into place. I found a lost thing that I didn't know I lost, and with that found yet another lost item that I knew I was looking for...

Spoiler:

Found my car. Whoops!

I didn't make any progress on solving the main murder, though, but I'm intentionally off on a side quest at the moment, so yeah.

On the whole still enjoying things, although I'm not sure that I think the game lives up to its hype. I mean, in parts it's bloody brilliant. The writing, the creativity, the fresh mechanics, the branching gameplay, and the attention to detail are amazing. Off the charts fun and well executed for sure.

But there are elements that I'm finding a bit tedious as well. I'm just not connecting with the politics and lore. The two seem somewhat intertwined, but I feel like the game is drip-feeding me disjoint pieces that just aren't sticking, like being given a puzzle piece at a time while trying to solve a 1,000-piece puzzle.

The game is also incredibly text heavy - almost everything happens via text/voice - and at times things really dive into the weeds. It's usually enjoyable reading, and I've laughed out loud more than once, but at its core this feels at times like an incredibly well done text adventure.

SHIVERS [Formidable:Success] - There's something out there, just on the edge of your perception.

1.- "Follow it"

SHIVERS [Legendary:Success] - It's very faint and far away, but somehow connected to you.

1.- "What's to the South?"

SHIVERS [Heroic:Success] - It's closer, but still very far away.

1.- "Go Further"

PERCEPTION [Challenging:Success] - A sea of tidy brick houses with neat gardens. There's no bullet holes or pawn shops here. it's dark, and a gentle rain is falling. There's something happening in *that* one.

1.- "Look closer"

PERCEPTION [Challenging:Success] - Inside, a man sits in a comfortable leather chair next to a modern radiocomputer. He doesn't appear to be doing anything.

1.- "What's with the man?"

MAN - He's just a guy. This line of questioning is a redherring.

2. - "What about the radiocomputer?"

PERCEPTION [Medium:Success] The radiocomputer is doing something, there is a memory filament in the slot. Silver tape on the side reads: DISCO ELYSIUM. The radiocomputer appears to be playing the end credits.

YOU - "he finished it?"

PERCEPTION [Normal:Success] - yes, he's just finished the radiocomputer game DISCO ELYSIUM"

1.- "What did he think of it?

REDHERRING - a swirl of thoughts in his head. Satisfaction at reaching the end, surprise at what a radiocomputer game can achieve, some regrets - should he have done more? could he have saved more people?

2.- That's it then (conclude thought)

REDHERRING - Yes thats it. Unless...

He turns off the radiocomputer but pauses for a moment just before removing the filament. Perhaps he will come back to try the game again with a different character. He leaves the filament in the radiocomputer. Finally he exits the room and the radiocomputer is left in darkness.

What an excellent writeup. Congrats!

I made some more progress yesterday, and am in the afternoon of Day 2, having just met Evrart Claire, the Union boss. Earlier that day, I had a pretty epic success at maintaining my composure ...

Spoiler:

When Titus Hardie told me that the dead guy sexually assaulted Klaasje, and I managed to keep it together, in spite of several penalties arising from embarassing myself at the beginning of the game. I definitely did not betray that I said I "want to have f*** with [her]."

But then, in front of the Union boss, I totally lost my cool.

Spoiler:

Never should have sat in the chair. I refused twice, I think, but conceded the third time. My mistake.

Kim really likes me, I triggered the achievement for gaining his trust. That felt good. Kim's the one rock I have in this messed up world. I feel like I really want Kim to be my character's friend, and my character -- seeing how sad everything is -- is probably clinging to this guy's respect as the only thing to keep him from backsliding. Kim's a good influence.

... but I'm totally going to (try to) steal the corpse's boots when Kim's not around.

Hahaha! Awesome writeup, Redherring! Congrats on finishing up the game! Glad to hear you enjoyed it, I think.

LastSurprise wrote:

Kim really likes me, I triggered the achievement for gaining his trust. That felt good. Kim's the one rock I have in this messed up world. I feel like I really want Kim to be my character's friend, and my character -- seeing how sad everything is -- is probably clinging to this guy's respect as the only thing to keep him from backsliding. Kim's a good influence.

... but I'm totally going to (try to) steal the corpse's boots when Kim's not around.

Kim is the best. He reminds me of a calm father.

I got the boots, woohoo!

I've finished Day 3. Lots of progress now! Well, no real progress on the murder investigation, but ... I'm soooo close to finding the Magical Insulidian Phasmid! And I've almost helped a band out. And if that isn't progress enough, I've found the armored gloves.

I've also had a thought that gives me +10 XP and 2 Real every time I have a random Encyclopedia success, which is really cranking up the levels and the money. I've only got one free thought slot open at the moment, and it looks like Day 4 will be spent trying to break free of my alcoholism.

But most importantly, I've sung my sad karaoke song!

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/IDQZfiB.jpg)

Things have really come together now. I've turned the voices back on, just to let them get started before clicking through them. I like hearing the voice acting to set the voices in my head.

I was probably a 6/10 in terms of liking the game after Day 2, but now I'm up to 8/10. For whatever reason, things have really clicked and I'm locked on. So many times I find myself laughing out loud.

... that costume. What is that costume? I think I see the boots, and maybe the helmet ...

Congrats on managing to steal the boots, Godzilla Blitz. I've never actually done that.

I'd say the rest is the FALN Pipo, Gardener's gloves, and a robe stolen from Mr Martin Martinaise.

LastSurprise wrote:

... that costume. What is that costume? I think I see the boots, and maybe the helmet ...

Alien Love Gardener wrote:

Congrats on managing to steal the boots, Godzilla Blitz. I've never actually done that.

I'd say the rest is the FALN Pipo, Gardener's gloves, and a robe stolen from Mr Martin Martinaise.

Thanks!

Yep, correct, and the headgear is the Pipo. The robe is a kimono, not sure whether I got that from Martin or someplace else? Usually I have on a jacket that gives +1 Visual Calculus and +1 something else, but I needed the kimono on to boost some stat right before that.

The clothing is this game just cracks me up. Not to mention that he's always carrying wire cutters and a plastic bag to pick up discarded bottles.

I'm right at the end of day 2 now, I've went to the apartments to see if an eye witness is in after 9pm. I like how the time goes slowly & you really get the sense of a day passing by.

I've come up against some roadblocks that I'm too low skilled on certain traits to even attempt but I'm sure there's more out there that will open up different avenues.

I pumped my perception up about 4 points, to really bring out the Columbo in our detective.

I've ran into the Hardie Boys, that were sadly not Matt & Jeff, had a meaty discussion & rinsed all the info I could out of them. I also like the way that certain entry points or items in the environment only reveal themselves after conversing with an NPC.

Oh yeah after the 1.3 patch (PS5) the interactions have drastically improved, there's no more having to press 'X' two or three times. Plays really smoothly now.

Spikeout wrote:

I pumped my perception up about 4 points, to really bring out the Columbo in our detective.

Nice! I spent most of Day 3 with a Perception of 0. Not sure if that means I was legally blind? I've since tossed a point into it, so at 1 now.

I've been mainly riding on Logic, Encyclopedia (for the constant XP bumps), and Visual Calculus (highest skill at the moment). I envision this character as a degenerate Sherlock Holmes trying to amend for his sordid past.

Obviously, trying to stay away from anything remotely challenging physically. Run away!

----

I did get my first GAME OVER death too. Trying to establish authority in a certain conversation, I ended up shoving Kim's pistol in my mouth and blowing my own brains out. That showed 'em who is boss!

Halfway through day 4 here. I’m really enjoying the police/investigative aspect of the game. I genuinely feel like a detective: snooping around, questioning witnesses and tracking down leads. For a genre that’s so heavily represented in movies, TV and print, it seems underrepresented in games.

I can’t remember the last game I played that effectively pulled this off. LA Noire, maybe? But that one felt more like an ambitious failure to me.

And ... done!

Such a unique game and oozing excellence in so many places. Just amazed at how they held all the threads and pieces together.

I'll put together more thoughts at some point. Need to head to sleep now.

It’s the first game since PS:T where I needed to just go and find a quiet place to think and process things when I finished the run and I still have conversations, characters, and concepts from it resurface every now and then. Such an expertly crafted journey with so many deeply scarred but extraordinarily human characters. I honestly can’t think of another game beyond the aforementioned that remains so strong from beginning to end.

I think this will stick in my memory a lot more than some of the others, for example Pillars of Eternity which was about a group of ... several people ... who went around fighting things for ... reasons?

I don’t love the subject matter particularly but the execution and the unique ... lots of things just stand out.

I’m still chuckling about

Spoiler:

I wish we could do more - like why can’t we rejuvenate the commercial district?

Played a little more this morning. I'm going to spend my time thinking about the elusive Co Co de Maw (or whatever it was called). I think I'm on track to get the boots, too. I have a plan (it's not a complicated one; we'll see how it goes).

I'm also kind of confused that my character still seems not to know his name ...

Spoiler:

Evrart repeatedly referred to me as "Mr. DuBois," and sometimes "Harry." Not the first time I've heard Harry, either -- that one seems to be bubbling up trough my subconscious. But in dialogue with others -- like Klaasje, I'm not even given the option yet to introduce myself as Harry.

I wonder if it would have helped for me to ask Evrart why he called me Mr. DuBois. I didn't want to show weakness in front of the guy, so I didn't pick that option.

Also, while I've been collecting thoughts as they enter my head -- I'm a curious guy! -- some part of my brain shut that down when I tried to think about being a boiadero:

"Am I'm a boiadero?" I thought.
"You aren't," said my brain.
"But what if ..."
"No."
"Maybe ..."
"No."

And, as they say, that's that on that.

Things I liked...

- Character depth. DE is packed with memorable, complex, and intriguing characters. Not to mention that you can craft your main character is so many different ways.

- The game world. I loved the setting, the cultural wrapper, the historical context. You feel like you're playing in a full, complex world.

- Playing a detective. The game was at its best when I was actively moving forward trying to solve quests and mini-mysteries.

- The RPG mechanics. Loved these! The skill systems. The split (volition, endurance) mechanic instead of HP. The thoughts and how you unlock them. The ability to play the game with relatively little fear of getting stuck or losing.

- The writing, the voices. So many times I laughed out loud. Really enjoyed the quality here.

Things I didn't enjoy so much...

- Text density. There are a good number of places where you are talking to the same person or interacting with the same thing for a good 10-15 minutes. Some of these are interesting, but some felt interminable, like a bad work meeting that never ends.

- The political development of the main character. While I enjoyed the rich political setting, I felt like it was integrated into the game weakly. I just never resonated with the politics under discussion, and never really understood what was happening with my character regarding politics. I'm a communist? Why? Now I'm an ultraliberal? Say what?

Redherring wrote:

I think this will stick in my memory a lot more than some of the others, for example Pillars of Eternity which was about a group of ... several people ... who went around fighting things for ... reasons?

This is spot on for me. I'm not sure it will rank as one of my favorite games ever, but it will definitely stick in my head as one of the most memorable. I dabble in game design as a hobby, and DE is filled with so many new and fresh RPG/adventure mechanics.

It also does, hands down, the best job I've seen with quest complexity and integration. I there there were only a half dozen spots where I noticed something happen a little oddly. Considering how much complexity exists in how you play your character, this is an incredible achievement.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

- The political development of the main character. While I enjoyed the rich political setting, I felt like it was integrated into the game weakly. I just never resonated with the politics under discussion, and never really understand what was happening with my character regarding politics. I'm a communist? Why? Now I'm an untraliberal? Say what?

On a basic mechanical level, it's just: express a political opinion that aligns with communism/fascism/ultra-liberalism/centrism X number of times and you get the option to opt in to that point of view.

I don't think it's structurally particularly neat - f*ck it this'll be all spoilers:

Spoiler:

If you talk to Klaasje in the opening, one of the things she mentions is you screaming "I don't want to be this kind of animal anymore"

And that's basically the "what can change the nature of a man" of this game. It's easy to diagnose what's wrong with Harry. But as he reconstructs himself he can opt into global patterns of thoughts as self-destructive as his own inability to let go of his ex.

And they're all as f*cked up as Harry - none of them have worked in Revachol, none of them can stop the encroaching of the pale - which as a kind of thought-excretion of humanity has more layers than that, but also serves as a blunt-force metaphor for climate change. Killing the world by our very presence.

And it could be easy to take the game as cynical because of that, but because of that final phasmid encounter and conversation and the wonder it has about us, I can't. Yeah, this video game doesn't have any pre-described solutions for where to go next, but we don't have to be this kind of animal anymore.

Alien Love Gardener wrote:

On a basic mechanical level, it's just: express a political opinion that aligns with communism/fascism/ultra-liberalism/centrism X number of times and you get the option to opt in to that point of view.

Yes, that makes sense and I could see that connection clearly with the Sorry Cop, Supercop, Boring Cop paths.

I couldn't see that clearly with the political development. I wasn't playing the game through a political lens, and so I think a good number of political choices that I made weren't really clear to me. I didn't see a particular choice as a "communist" choice, so much as the choice that resonated with my character. Then when the game came back to me as said I was fascist or whatever, I was confused as to how I got there.

To your spoiler point, I found the game quite optimistic and hopeful by the end.

Random image I stumbled across. Seems likely to be accurate in my case.

IMAGE(https://i.redd.it/4uh6uo5gius61.png)

Hahaha! That exact thought crossed my mind. Has the second run been fun?