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

^Great writeup. It's entertaining to read how things are going, and I remember being in many of the same places as you are now.

If you want a hint on getting the body down, let me know. I imagine there are a few ways to do it, though, and I only know the one that I used.

Also would be happy to help; I know of two ways to do it. One of them is gated behind something that you've admitted you haven't done yet.

Re: talking to the woman on top of the Whirling-in-Rags (slight spoilers, I don't think this would ruin anything for you:

Spoiler:

Pretty sure that by the time you see her up there, you can just knock on her door and she'll tell you that you can come up. Though I am not 100% sure that this opens as soon as you see her up there, because I didn't go up until after the Hardie Boys suggested talking with her.

Also it's apparently possible to beat the game without getting the body down. There's a Steam trophy for it.

LastSurprise wrote:

Also it's apparently possible to beat the game without getting the body down. There's a Steam trophy for it.

Ha! The range of state in this game is just NUTS. I mean, how on earth did they track all this?!?

Thanks for the responses. That makes me feel a lot better that it's possible to go through the whole game without getting the body down.

I was thinking it was some secret area to get to the door of the roof. Is it just via the room next to yours in the Whirling In Rags? The one you knock loud but the lady (who you first speak to) doesn't answer?

For what it’s worth, I couldn’t visit the woman on the roof for a good while after first seeing her.

It's that one exactly (not the room next to yours, but the one on the far right).

Spoiler:

Her room has a staircase that leads up to the balcony.

And, correction, the trophy is for solving the case without ever *inspecting* the body. Mind blown.

Not sure if this will help at all, but I found it helpful to play with the mindset of "push where you feel things moving", if that makes any sense at all. There are times/situations where things are locked off and you can't get there at that moment. You have to go push somewhere else in order for that thing that seems unrelated to unlock. And the game is really good at making those walled off things easier to access as time moves along.

That's hilarious that you can solve the case without ever inspecting the body. I know we were talking about how well Tyranny manages state, but DE blows anything I've seen before out of the water.

Yep that's the motto I've adapted. If I'm blocked off from something I'll just go to another location to see if I can get new info or an item that will help, even just levelling up some traits that you've previously failed white checks on. I'll be able to play more tomorrow night & ideally I'd like to be finished by the time Returnal releases next week (but I'll still finish it no matter what).

I'm going to post some thoughts about the game now that most of you have finished or are winding down. Bear in mind this all refers to the original version of the game; I have not yet played The Final Cut.

I really love this game. Even so, I paused partway through for a few weeks, and it took some effort to pick it up again and forge on to the end. I'm very glad I did. It's quite hard work at times, though; there are so, so many words. If this were a novel, you'd say, "That was an amazing journey, but it would have benefited from a better editor." Some conversations and characters go on too long and don't say enough and could have been cut.

Still, Disco Elysium has stuck with me. A year on from finishing it, I find myself thinking about the game quite often - the characters, the settings, the heavy air of brokenness that hangs over everything. Revachol feels alive and real in that way that places only do in the best fiction.

Some of my standout moments:

Spoiler:

~ Karaoke (regardless of whether you pass or fail the skill check) is my favorite scene in any video game ever.
~ The showdown near the end.
~ The dream in which Harry meets his ex-wife. It's cleverly done. I expected some kind of closure - that Harry would talk to her and be healed and able to move on. The game makes it clear that life is not that easy.
~ The OST by British Sea Power is perfect.
~ Harry and Kim's long, mournful boat ride to the sniper's island.
~ Maybe I'd had too much to drink that night, but the scene in which Harry closes his eyes and "teleports" to the roof of a building made me laugh so hard and so long that I had to get up and walk around for a bit.

All told, it's fantastic. There was a lot of talk, on release, that DE would change RPGs forever, but I disagree. The game's success relies largely on the quality of writing, and you're never going to see anything like this in an Ubisoft game. Even so, if future games experiment more with the basic structure of combat-free, choices-heavy narratives, I'll be a happy man.

Didn't have much time to play last night, so instead of pushing through to the end, I reloaded a bunch of times so I could buy and read everything in the bookstore. The Man from Hejmdall is the standout. My inner voices' reaction to it was pretty funny.

Also bought the Suzerainty boardgame and coerced Kim to play. Tried to beat him multiple times without success. Curse you Kim Kitsuragi.

Tasty Pudding wrote:

I'm going to post some thoughts about the game now that most of you have finished or are winding down. Bear in mind this all refers to the original version of the game; I have not yet played The Final Cut.

I really love this game. Even so, I paused partway through for a few weeks, and it took some effort to pick it up again and forge on to the end. I'm very glad I did. It's quite hard work at times, though; there are so, so many words. If this were a novel, you'd say, "That was an amazing journey, but it would have benefited from a better editor." Some conversations and characters go on too long and don't say enough and could have been cut.

Still, Disco Elysium has stuck with me. A year on from finishing it, I find myself thinking about the game quite often - the characters, the settings, the heavy air of brokenness that hangs over everything. Revachol feels alive and real in that way that places only do in the best fiction.

Some of my standout moments:

Spoiler:

~ Karaoke (regardless of whether you pass or fail the skill check) is my favorite scene in any video game ever.
~ The showdown near the end.
~ The dream in which Harry meets his ex-wife. It's cleverly done. I expected some kind of closure - that Harry would talk to her and be healed and able to move on. The game makes it clear that life is not that easy.
~ The OST by British Sea Power is perfect.
~ Harry and Kim's long, mournful boat ride to the sniper's island.
~ Maybe I'd had too much to drink that night, but the scene in which Harry closes his eyes and "teleports" to the roof of a building made me laugh so hard and so long that I had to get up and walk around for a bit.

All told, it's fantastic. There was a lot of talk, on release, that DE would change RPGs forever, but I disagree. The game's success relies largely on the quality of writing, and you're never going to see anything like this in an Ubisoft game. Even so, if future games experiment more with the basic structure of combat-free, choices-heavy narratives, I'll be a happy man.

Great reflections, TP. I agree with you on pretty much everything. I wonder if I would have liked the original version more than the Final Cut. I get the sense that the Final Cut added more words, of largely a political nature, which just never really grabbed me.

But I'm still thinking about the game and I finished it over a week ago. The character complexity and depth was marvelous. Kim Katsuragi was such an amazing accomplishment of character execution, and like you mention, they breathed life into the world with such great writing and art.

Really glad we played this one.

I finished the game. The case is solved.

Spoiler:

Turns out Communism really did kill him, just like the hanged man told me in an inland empire-fueled vision days ago. Imagine that.

Throughout the whole game I scoffed at and neglected all the dialogue choices where Harry declares himself a para-natural detective. I thought it was deranged boasting. It didn't fit with my personal skepticism as a player, or the character of Harry as I was playing him- regretful, self-effacing, wounded and lacking his former confidence.

The full meaning of all these Shivers-induced insights never sank in until that moment. Detective Harrier Du Bois actually is a para-natural detective. If the game continued on from that point, I'd have him fully embracing this newly self-discovered identity.

I'll probably post a few more thoughts in the next day or two.

Finally got my replay started. Finished day 1.

The game is as brilliant as I remember it. My main issue then and now is the die rolls for skill checks. I think I would have preferred hard checks; either you have high enough stat to pass it or you dont.
Die rolls encourage save scumming. Which might be a "me" problem. But hard checks would have done better at enforcing players to deal with the failures. Which it should, considering it does such a good job of progressing the story no matter how much you fail.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

Great reflections, TP. I agree with you on pretty much everything. I wonder if I would have liked the original version more than the Final Cut. I get the sense that the Final Cut added more words, of largely a political nature, which just never really grabbed me.

As far as I have read, the new edition mostly added one quest for each political view, by far most of the political stuff was always there.

gewy wrote:

I finished the game. The case is solved.

Spoiler:

Turns out Communism really did kill him, just like the hanged man told me in an inland empire-fueled vision days ago. Imagine that.

Throughout the whole game I scoffed at and neglected all the dialogue choices where Harry declares himself a para-natural detective. I thought it was deranged boasting. It didn't fit with my personal skepticism as a player, or the character of Harry as I was playing him- regretful, self-effacing, wounded and lacking his former confidence.

The full meaning of all these Shivers-induced insights never sank in until that moment. Detective Harrier Du Bois actually is a para-natural detective. If the game continued on from that point, I'd have him fully embracing this newly self-discovered identity.

I'll probably post a few more thoughts in the next day or two.

Spoiler:

Yeah, if and when I ever replay this game I am definitely leaning on Shivers/para-natural. I was actually disappointed the paranormal turned out to be true, I would have loved for the gameworld to have stuck to its 'realism'. But I now wonder what I missed by pursuing the 'rehabilitating intellectual' path.

Congrats on finishing, gewy! Most excellent stuff.

Shadout wrote:

Finally got my replay started. Finished day 1.

The game is as brilliant as I remember it. My main issue then and now is the die rolls for skill checks. I think I would have preferred hard checks; either you have high enough stat to pass it or you dont.
Die rolls encourage save scumming. Which might be a "me" problem. But hard checks would have done better at enforcing players to deal with the failures. Which it should, considering it does such a good job of progression the story no matter how much you fail.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

Great reflections, TP. I agree with you on pretty much everything. I wonder if I would have liked the original version more than the Final Cut. I get the sense that the Final Cut added more words, of largely a political nature, which just never really grabbed me.

As far as I have read, the new edition mostly added one quest for each political view, by far most of the political stuff was always there.

I was tempted by the skill checks to save scum, but early on I decided to not let myself do that, even when I missed a 92% success check in a critical spot in the game. That one was the most tempting to break my rule on.

In the end, though, I felt like the game was forgiving of pretty much everything, and the failures were often entertaining. It rarely took off more than 1 or 2 endurance/volition points in a single encounter, and the meds to boost both of those were cheap and easy to get.

And I didn't realize that about the political nature of the original game, good to know, thanks.

On Friday, I made it to day 5. Kim's back, after a trip to the morgue.

Day 4 felt a bit more aimless, maybe it was the lack of Kim prodding me to get back on track? Even though I know he not-so-secretly loves my diversions. But, even though I felt like the day was less structured than day 3 (which featured a lot of case-related breakthroughs), I accomplished a lot:

Spoiler:
  • Sang karaoke, and dedicated my song to the absent Kim Katsuragi. Told Garte I'd f***ing nail it.
  • Found the church. Broke my crowbar trying to get in. I'll need to get a more sturdy one, then maybe I can also get into that freezer in the Doomed Commercial Area.
  • Found the druggies / headbangers camped out on the ice. Had a minor (okay, major) emotional breakdown about the young woman not wearing a hat. Agreed to check on the church for them. May have talked them into sobering up? At least let them know I saw through their BS and knew they were making drugs.
  • Managed to crack the code of talking to Egghead, and made him a Moralist. He wants to upgrade his music, and I showed him the Doorgunner Megamix, but -- possibly because I made him a Moralist -- he thinks it's too extreme.
  • Went into the church. Talked to the crab-man in the rafters. He told me about his faith, and while I think he's substituting one drug for another, the whole conversation made me think about getting sober. Now it's a thought-project. And, damn, is my Physical Instrument weak while I go through withdrawal.
  • Engaged in a hunt for the Insulindian Cryptid! Turns out maybe it's fake (who knew!) and Lena's not sure she has a great memory of it.
  • Finally found the racist, fascist guy who owns that disgusting mug!
  • Ruled out one potential location for the sniper's nest.
  • Spent time thinking about le responsibilite, and how I can contact that big zeppelin overseeing us all.
  • Inspected a mural that I think I'll need to return to, with Kim. I may also need to ask someone else (the pelanque player?) about what my Visual Calculus sees, there.
  • And, finally, bought a copy of Suzerainty after hearing Morrell, Lena, and their fascist friend talking about it. Was hoping I could bring it back to the Whirling and invite myself to their game night. Sadly, I can't, though from other comments here I gather Kim might be interested in playing it with me.

The slow plodding continues. I finally ended day 1. That felt like it took forever, but mostly it's because I'm only finding time for 2-3 hours of play each weekend, and that's it. Felt like I got to pack a ton of investigating into it all though, with a lot of seemingly successful leads moving things forward my last couple hours investigating the dock area and the nearby apartments. Realizing I could double click to get my slow ass to at least trot around the map was a life saver. (Which I'm sure someone posted here early on, and I inconveniently forgot.)

Day one without a drink was a success. Now, to go celebrate by having a drink!

LastSurprise wrote:

On Friday, I made it to day 5. Kim's back, after a trip to the morgue.

Day 4 felt a bit more aimless, maybe it was the lack of Kim prodding me to get back on track? Even though I know he not-so-secretly loves my diversions. But, even though I felt like the day was less structured than day 3 (which featured a lot of case-related breakthroughs), I accomplished a lot:

Spoiler:
  • Sang karaoke, and dedicated my song to the absent Kim Katsuragi. Told Garte I'd f***ing nail it.
  • Found the church. Broke my crowbar trying to get in. I'll need to get a more sturdy one, then maybe I can also get into that freezer in the Doomed Commercial Area.
  • Found the druggies / headbangers camped out on the ice. Had a minor (okay, major) emotional breakdown about the young woman not wearing a hat. Agreed to check on the church for them. May have talked them into sobering up? At least let them know I saw through their BS and knew they were making drugs.
  • Managed to crack the code of talking to Egghead, and made him a Moralist. He wants to upgrade his music, and I showed him the Doorgunner Megamix, but -- possibly because I made him a Moralist -- he thinks it's too extreme.
  • Went into the church. Talked to the crab-man in the rafters. He told me about his faith, and while I think he's substituting one drug for another, the whole conversation made me think about getting sober. Now it's a thought-project. And, damn, is my Physical Instrument weak while I go through withdrawal.
  • Engaged in a hunt for the Insulindian Cryptid! Turns out maybe it's fake (who knew!) and Lena's not sure she has a great memory of it.
  • Finally found the racist, fascist guy who owns that disgusting mug!
  • Ruled out one potential location for the sniper's nest.
  • Spent time thinking about le responsibilite, and how I can contact that big zeppelin overseeing us all.
  • Inspected a mural that I think I'll need to return to, with Kim. I may also need to ask someone else (the pelanque player?) about what my Visual Calculus sees, there.
  • And, finally, bought a copy of Suzerainty after hearing Morrell, Lena, and their fascist friend talking about it. Was hoping I could bring it back to the Whirling and invite myself to their game night. Sadly, I can't, though from other comments here I gather Kim might be interested in playing it with me.

Wow, that's a LOT of progress!

I've just solved the

Spoiler:

dead man on the pier case. Phoned the library & found out the address of the registered library card. Ironically he was the husband of the woman I was talking to outside the bookstore. I remember in the conversation joking 'where is your husband' and just kept prodding 'are you sure he's ok, what if something bad happened' she's wondering why the hell I'm pursuing this line of conversation. I was being a smartass not thinking she'd have any significance in the game after this point. Now I've had to go to her apartment & give her the bad news. That was a sad moment within the game. Her sitting on the bed, always worried about what state her husband was in or when he'd be home. They've two young girls, I have to say I felt bad about the jesting nature of our first conversation at the bookstore & she seemed an honest, likeable woman, who has it hard. I broke the news as gently as I could. I failed an 83% empathy red check upon breaking the news that her husband was dead, that was annoying. Bringing back XCOM memories of being beside an enemy with a shotgun & a 90% chance to hit but completely missing.

I still can't progress any further on the dead body. The only way I can see to further progress on that front is to

Spoiler:

internalize Measurehead's racist 'advanced race theory'

I tried the woman's door who has the room beside me at Whirling In Rags with no joy. It's the same options of 'knock' then 'knock harder' with no answer that I had right at the start of the game. Bar Disco Elysium being heavy on the political stuff that's my biggest complaint, seemingly being blocked off from progress when you've done just about everything else except borderline impossible white checks.

There's also a task 'take on la responsibilite' in which I'm on the

Spoiler:

'Find someone with technical expertise to contact the coalition' I assume this is the programmer woman in the abandoned church but I've exhausted all my dialogue options & there's nothing there about helping me in this regard

If you want a semi-spoiler for the dead body...

Spoiler:

Internalizing that racial theory was the key for me.

What GB said, it was the same for me. Also, if you’re holding off because the choice makes you feel like a terrible person...

Spoiler:

Internalizing the race theory doesn’t necessarily make you a racist. To me, some of the dialogue choices, before and after, give you the option of humoring Measurehead. And, after you internalize it, the Thought Cabinet text makes clear that you’ve now thought about this a bit, but the theory itself is a bunch of nonsense.

There’s another way that I found, but was not able to pull off:

Spoiler:

You can shoot the cable. Kim can’t, he’s not a good enough shot. Neither was I. But I think it’s possible.

Ok you've both convinced me to internalise that particular thought. It did sit uneasy with me but like you say LastSurprise if it's humouring him to make leeway on the investigation then I'll go for it.

I'm also thinking I should have helped setup

Spoiler:

that dance venue for those kids at the abandoned church. Egghead sounded like Bruno (Sasha Baron Cohen's gay Austrian character) "HARDCORE" & I made inroads with the girl outside the tent in that I had a successful empathy check with her. It would have been interesting to see where that particular set of characters would have ended up.

If it makes you feel any better, I was feeling guilty about the prospect of dealing with Measurehead — so I thought you might have felt it too. But I liked the way the game handled it.

Yes, what LS said. I wasn't super thrilled about the thought until I realized that there was a difference between examining in and adopting it.

Got past the authority check with

Spoiler:

Titus. He revealed the location of the rape victim, who is the same woman who won't answer her door, presumably now she will. I failed to keep my cool over already knowing her which was funny to see Harris say inappropriate responses that you literally couldn't get out of after failing the check.

I have to say the amount of work that went into the Cryptozoologist quest, primarily in fleshing out both Morell & Lena was pretty amazing.

Spoiler:

Both are well aware of the criticism of the field they work in but are so steadfast in their belief of these animals/insects (that have no real scientific basis) that it drives them forward on this near lifelong journey to find these mythical creatures. I like the way they both were enthusiastic & in the case of Morell he tried to be his own worst critic about false sightings, checking the evidence etc It didn't feel like they were blind to the scientific community or general scepticism. It was sad to see at the end of the quest - after setting up the traps & helping Morell out, finding out it was Cuno who took the locusts from one of the traps & it wasn't this phasmid - that Lena & Morell's relationship seemed to be largely built on the fact that she had seen one of these creatures that matched the description of one that had been documented. The kicker is she experienced this sighting when she was 5 or 6 years old. You see the doubt weigh heavy upon Lena, thinking back on all this, had she just imagined this creature. I'm reading it as she played the story up to Morell when they first met, possibly on a subconscious level, to have this connection with him as she had doubts he'd ever be interested in someone who was wheelchair bound. The thought does seem to take its toll. I liked them both, especially that last conversation with Lena I tried to be as gentle as I could with my responses to her. Fantastic writing, the lore behind the whole Cryptozoologist field, these different creatures with different attributes like invisibility, it's just super well thought out.

Oh & I finally levelled up to forget a thought & internalise advanced race theory, which should see me finally push forward toward the

Spoiler:

docks

Spikeout wrote:

Oh & I finally levelled up to forget a thought & internalise advanced race theory, which should see me finally push forward toward the

Spoiler:

docks

Despite going against the default gamer mentality of hoard/increase/dominate, choosing to spend a skill point to lose a vile, internalized thought seemed appropriate and worth it to me.

I'd be interested in seeing how different skill sets effected how we perceived the story, setting, and characters. Maybe after more people are done.

A couple of random observations about the world and lore:

Kind of a spoiler-

Spoiler:

At first I thought we were on a straightforward Earth analog. Then, my interest kept getting piqued by small, unexplained differences in how technology developed (aerostats, muzzle loading sidearms, radiocomputers). Finally, it goes all in on the more fantastic elements like the pale, anomalies and cryptids. I thought that was cool.

It also reminded me a lot of Dragon Age- the way the setting heavily, shamelessly cribs events, language and imagery from real life history and cultures. When I first started Dragon Age: Origins I thought the world-building was lazy and uninspired, but later I realized it was kind of shrewd. My mind instantly filled in empty blanks with details. It didn't have to be spelled out to me that the French-sounding Orlesians enjoyed wine, fine dining and fancy outfits. It's just obvious. And of course they were in conflict with the Fereldens because there was that whole Hundreds Year War. Stuff like that.

In Disco Elysium, my character still wears some ratty bell bottoms and I get a snippet about the day that disco music officially died. That's all it takes, and I could pretty much fill in a good chunk of his life story from there. In detail, I could picture him in his prime dancing away at some disco club before the years passed him by.

Or how this Communist has a Russian-sounding name, their flag is red with a prominent star, and the Commie hat I find lying around is a ushanka. Basically I know the whole deal about these people already from a few cues.

Danjo Olivaw wrote:

I'd be interested in seeing how different skill sets effected how we perceived the story, setting, and characters. Maybe after more people are done.

I feel like the game does a good job of providing options to solve things using multiple domains, and even if you totally screw up it eventually nudges you through the gate. Having played starting as a 4-4-2-2, I'm super curious how differently things would play as a 2-2-4-4, for example. I wonder what information you get fed with that sort of build compared to a more cerebral one.

I kind of feel like I saw most of the quests, but only a fraction of the game's content, if that makes sense.

Hey, I can actually contribute for once! I finished a 4-4-2-2 playthrough over the weekend and started a 4-2-2-4 one on Monday. In both cases, I've been shooting for a "Harry cleans up his act" story, and I researched some early Thought Cabinet picks to help make my character level up a little faster.

It's a really fantastic and very unique game. I'm glad I finally made the time to play it through to the end.

I've barely scratched the surface, only put in about 3 hours so far, but this has been living up to and exceeding my already high expectations from the opening moments. Not too much to add that hasn't already been said, just basking in the brilliance of the writing and voice acting and the sheer joy of exploring it all.