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Disco Elysium


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I'm torn on Disco Elysium, especially at the astronomical price of £35! At that kind of price I could rebuy Jagged Alliance 2 or Brigand: Oaxaca, or even ELEX. All three of which are some of the best RPGs I've played in my life. Tactical, FPS, and third-person respectively.

 

(No, wait, ELEX is £40 now... I bought it on sale for less than £20 before.)

 

So, Disco Elysium.

 

Part of the problem is, lots, and lots, and lots of wanky hipster websites keep going on, and on, about how great the prose are, the writing, the words, the story, the narrative arc. Etc.

 

Fuck that noise. I play RPGs to break their internal game systems, getting meta with buffs, and finding clever ways of making stats interact in ways that shatter the internal code logic.

 

Which is why I never paid any attention to Elysium. I assumed it was one of those boring walking sims, except isometric, where the game devs were basically failed writers, or failed playwrights, or failed movie makers, and so they made a game as a vessel for their epic story. And that the gameplay would be lacking the intense complexity I enjoy from this genre.

 

But then i watched a different video, and the guy was like: you unlock and boost 50+ internal skills, which are actually voices in your mind, and there's dice rolls, and you can buff your inner voices through equipment (clothes), and these buffs along with stats provide options through checkpoints via dice rolls.

 

And I was like: Oh, OK, so actually there is some depth here, and it was just wanky hipster reviewers who ignored that and chose to focus on the story,

 

But then I saw there was no combat. And I'm like: can the skills and equip buffs provide enough complexity to make up for that?

 

But then I read this forum, and lots of people are saying the RPG mechanics are just smoke and mirrors.

 

I can't decide. Burn £35 on this, or reinstall Jagged Alliance 2? Both are isometric. Both RPGs. And I do like spending several hours just tweaking my ludicrously complicated inventory in JA2.

 

Is Elysium more about feelings, and emotions, and the human condition, or is it a cleverly constructed set of rule systems which can manipulated like some sort of Rainman-style numbers god?

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Based on your post I'd say it's probably not the game for you. The strengths lie in the writing not in the other RPG stuff like character builds, itemisation etc. 

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4 minutes ago, Zael said:

Based on your post I'd say it's probably not the game for you. The strengths lie in the writing not in the other RPG stuff like character builds, itemisation etc. 

 

Thanks! :)Friends were recommending it and getting irritated with me when I tried to claim the lack of combat hinted at shallow mechanics. I remained open minded, because it could have been complex without combat.

 

But I'm starting to lean more and more towards not wanting to risk more than £5 on it.

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Your build does make a surprising amount of difference, and in some ways make it more of an RPG in the true sense than many other games in the genre, but in practice it plays more like a point and click adventure than a CRPG. 

 

That said, there is a point where, depending on your stats you can talk an inanimate door into unlocking itself for you. :DThat's about as meta as it gets.

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16 minutes ago, Mogster said:

That said, there is a point where, depending on your stats you can talk an inanimate door into unlocking itself for you. :DThat's about as meta as it gets.

 

This sounds incredible.

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32 minutes ago, Sketch said:

 

 

Thanks! :)Friends were recommending it and getting irritated with me when I tried to claim the lack of combat hinted at shallow mechanics. I remained open minded, because it could have been complex without combat.

 

But I'm starting to lean more and more towards not wanting to risk more than £5 on it.

 

If you're going in looking for a complex RPG where you have to fine tune your build and items for combat scenarios then you'll be disappointed. Like Mogster says above you can have a different experience based on your stats and how you roleplay your character. I would call the game mechanically complex based on how much effort was put into the thoughts and ideas mechanic but if your definition of mechanically complex is sitting down puzzling out whether or not you need fire resistance or an AC increase to beat a boss then yeah it's not that type of RPG.

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RPGs with complex combat systems like, say, Divinity are in many ways less a "role playing game" and more (brilliant mind you) stat admin simulators. Disco Elysium is a "role" playing game in the literal purest sense.

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13 minutes ago, Laine said:

Is there anymore news on this coming to Switch / PS4?

 

The port is apparently still due this year, but there hasn't been any news about it for a while as far as I'm aware.

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  • 1 month later...

According to the Epic Games launcher, I'm almost ten hours into this. Initially, I was a bit dubious: the game explains next to nothing and expects you to just understand the mechanics of CRPGs, like Baldur's Gate, or traditional tabletop RPG games, like D&D, neither of which I've ever played, without teaching them to you, before then going on to subvert many of those mechanics, adding to the confusion. The world itself and the number of characters you can interact with straight off the bat, as well as the depth of the lore and the multitude of references to things that you (both as the player and as the player character) don't understand, also make things very overwhelming to begin with.

 

I've stuck with it, however, currently midway through Wednesday, and am pleased to say that I'm now finding it entirely compelling. There are still things I don't really get (the Thought Cabinet, for example - you're not told what the benefits or disadvantages of learning a particular thought will be until you've internalised it, then you have to spend a skill point erasing it from your brain if you don't like it, meaning that I don't bother learning any thoughts in the first place as it's too much of a risk) and it's a pain in the arse whenever you fail a skill check that you had a decent chance of passing, but the narrative (particularly the main 'quest', for want of a better term), the writing and the characterisation are all excellent. (Kim's my favourite character.)

 

As someone else pointed out above, in practice it plays more like a point and click adventure, or visual novel, rather than what I understand CRPGs are like, and even though many of the more surreal, tangential, Lucas Arts-esque bits are often laugh out loud funny, so far it's been at its best when it gets you doing actual detective work, examining bodies, cross-examining witnesses, collecting evidence, and the like. The maritime setting and themes of union corruption and violence, as well as the detective odd couple in the centre of it all, put me strongly in mind of season 2 of The Wire, which can only ever be a fantastic thing, in my opinion.

 

I'm looking forward to playing more :)

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I’ve been playing this for an hour or two here and there over the past week (blame Hades for it not being more) and I’m intrigued by it, but it really feels like a choose you own adventure with a massively complex RPG engine behind it. I’m find it fascinating rather than enjoyable, but I’m only on the second day so looking forward to where the journey takes me. Not sure I’m actually appreciating the depth though - it’s kind of overwhelming with all the skills etc. 

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3 minutes ago, spanx said:

I’ve been playing this for an hour or two here and there over the past week (blame Hades for it not being more) and I’m intrigued by it, but it really feels like a choose you own adventure with a massively complex RPG engine behind it. I’m find it fascinating rather than enjoyable, but I’m only on the second day so looking forward to where the journey takes me. Not sure I’m actually appreciating the depth though - it’s kind of overwhelming with all the skills etc. 

 

The skill system isn't really that deep, from what I can make out: the more points you put into a particular skill, the greater the chance you have of passing a check that is based on that skill. That's about it.

 

What seems to be more significant are the other, hidden factors which determine how easy or difficult a check is, such as whether you know certain information about the person you're talking to, or if you've pissed them off previously, or if you have or haven't don't certain things. As such, it's a good idea to exhaust all other options in a conversation before you try a skill check with a particular character, as by doing so you might unlock something that makes the check easier to pass. (These show up on the little card that pops up when you come to a skill check. It'll say something like "+1 Found X item" above the bit where it shows the percentage chance of you passing the check.)

 

I'd also advise you to not spend your skill points straight away, especially if you're going to just spend them arbitrarily; collect a few until you get to a skill check that's part of the main quest (the investigation) and then put them into whatever skill you need to get past the check. You can spend one on the skill, try the check and then, if you fail, put another point into it to immediately try the check again. Don't underestimate the usefulness of clothes, either - if you come across a tough check, come out of the dialogue menu, change clothes to suit the skill you need, then attempt the check afterwards. Drink and drugs are also useful for this. Just make sure you've got something you can top your health/morale up with afterwards.

 

If you're only a couple of hours in then I'd suggest you should just focus on the murder investigation for now. You pick up lots of side-quests very quickly and it's easy to get overwhelmed, but if you focus on the main quest for the first in-game day at least then you'll naturally come across lots of things that will help you with the side-quests anyway.

 

What's deeper than the RPG system is the lore and background information, especially when it comes to all the different analogues for real-life figures and ideologies, Kraz Mazov being a representation if Karl Marx, for example. A lot of that stuff does seem a bit self-indulgent, however, and I do find myself glossing over it at times. It's not a surprise to learn that the chief writer on the game is a novelist.

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