I feel the “Most Loyal Companion” nod has to go to one Lt. Kim Kitsuragi.
Well, since I didn’t say anything when I got around to playing it earlier this year, the game got me to greatly respect the positions of a centrist (Kim) and a disillusioned social democrat (Joyce, just read into what she says) for how and why they believe what they do, while nudging me in the direction of keep trying to be less judgemental (as far as I recall, outside of the Evrarts, the Machine, and the Mercs - even then humanized - there’s just a big tapestry of humans trying to get by), so it’s definitely doing something uniquely artful.
Kim is such a great character. He manages to give the player a direction as to how to handle and process different situations while letting players behave as wildly as they want, and still remaining a believable character. Couldn’t have been an easy needle to thread.
It’s really funny to me that a self-described communist writer managed to write a story where everyone is constantly talking and arguing about their political ideologies, but it’s all just a lot of hot air that doesn’t matter and makes no difference to anything.
Yes, Dialectical Materialism: The Videogame. It matters because it matters to how characters see themselves, the world, and their place in it, which you can then use to inform your interpretation the real world as well. Or not, it’s up to you, other than making fun of supremacists, it doesn’t pretend to have answers.
It’s more than that, I think. It’s a major aspect of the game that it’s full of ideological hypocrites. Measurehead is an obvious example, but none of those guys are acting in line with their stated beliefs once you scratch the surface. The player can choose to adopt a political stance but there’s something absurd in a guy who woke up yesterday not knowing who he is or what country he lives in but is now convinced that an ideology he learned about a few hours ago is the cure for his and the world’s ills.
The game does offer an answer: That it’s all nonsense and we aren’t going to fix our lives by arguing about society. Which is an answer I kinda like but is unexpected coming from someone who identifies by such an ideology.
That’s pretty dismal, as it’s also pretty explicit that the in-world neoliberal imperialism equivalent is not going to let anything ever improve either. Kim and Joyce have it together because they accept the world is and always will be fucked, but they’ll be okay; not everyone can. Tommy can try to be as laid back as he wants, he’s heartbreakingly screwed. The hardy boys try to just take care of themselves, the other workers try to put their head down, and both get played for fools. Klassje tried to play the game and failed, but Evrart’s psycopathy got him wins, so, well, there’s one winning ideology.
I’d say instead that it expounds that ideological dogmatism, or blind optimism, or … flies in the face of the messy reality that are people and power relations, which, while people keep forgetting, is not really a new perspective. Praxis informs beliefs, not the other way around.
Incidentally, I love how that ties in to the other theme being messy personal relationships: the character being an ideological blank slate for narrative purposes is, IMHO, a brilliant way to explore how to deal with your mind breaking when dealing with the lack of hope for anything to ever get better. It’s not relatable to everyone, certainly not to the extreme state at which the character starts, but it’s what makes it an unforgettable work of art for me.
I can’t imagine relying on speech only. You’ll still be playing in 50 years time!
I never played the first version, only the fully-voiced Final Cut that is now available. I opted for only having NPC’s speak, with the internal thoughts being text, because there’s a lot of internal thoughts and I quickly tired of that gravely internal voice. But even then I was still only ever hearing the first 2 seconds of each NPC as I was clicking through the options. I didn’t have time to sit around and listen to hours of people talking! (Though for some of them, like Cuno, I’d make an exception)
Wait, you’ve never played this game!?!?!
You’ll play thousands of indie darlings, but not the most darlingest?!
It’s not a CRPG without combat. It’s not a visual novel with dice rolls.
It’s a point and click adventure game with stats! Why can none of you see this?! “Sam and Max do Vegas” kind of thing.
I’m going to give it another go eventually, but one thing I love about indie darlings is their accessibility and limited scope. Disco Elysium is a lot bigger and denser than most.
It is interesting, though: I played and loved a lot of text-y games last year, like Pentiment, Citizen Sleeper, and I was a Teenage Exocolonist–games that I feel pretty certain were inspired by Disco Elysium in part. But a hallmark of these games (especially Exocolonist and Pentiment) was how disciplined they were about text length. I found them very digestible. Citizen Sleeper was tougher, because the text passages were longer and denser. As another data point, I was turned off by Norco, despite its many virtues, because the text was maybe not longer than these other games, but less informative for its length.
Anyway, I don’t know if that’s a fancy way of saying “Too much reading,” but Disco Elysium took a lot more effort to play than some other recent games, and that has resulted in me hitting a wall early on in it twice.
Also: Having voice acting sounds like it would make things worse! That will give the game total control over the pace that the text moves. But I wouldn’t want to play without it, either, due to the extra tone and atmosphere (I presume) it adds!
I think someone in the Planescape Torment thread said the game had 800,000 words, which was longer than most novels. And apparently Disco Elysium has 1.2 million words. That’s intimidating!
The narrator reads soooo slooooowly, and apparently this was direction that he got during the recording.
Is that really an option? It didn’t used to be. When did they add this? What is it called? Are you sure you’re not talking abut the “classic” option, which only voices some of the NPC dialogue?
I’m pretty sure I said almost the same thing upthread, but it’s been so long even I can’t remember, so I can’t fault you for not seeing it if it’s there.
Planescape: Torment. Another game that bludgeoned me into bailing with its less-than-ideal words-to-actual-content ratio.
I beat Planescape: Torment twice. Kind of itching to play it again.
No. This doesn’t work.
Adventure games are all about puzzles. Disco has almost no puzzles. Role-play goddammit.
It’s a CYOA disguised by die rolls and a pseudo-open world!
It’s a floor wax! It’s a dessert topping!
It did grow out of a TTRG campaign, as I recall.
It’s kinda like one of those gamebooks! Lone Wolf or Warlock of Firetop Mountain, right? I didn’t really play them (or their modern reincarnations). Maybe if they were as well-written as DE I would!
Puzzle games are all about puzzles. Adventure games are about adventures.
I would contend that a character-centric game with stat-based gameplay is an RPG in video game terms. There are plenty of CRPGs that don’t involve any “role-playing” in a tabletop sense (no ethical choices or dialogue branches–pretty much all the early CRPGs like Wizardry, M&M, etc. are like this). They also don’t particularly need a story in any robust sense, though most do. It is randomized tests of the characters’ stats or skills that defines an RPG.
In my book, Disco Elysium is absolutely an RPG. You’ve got experience/levels, character progression with meaningful impacts, money, gear, health, tests of skill, and some of the best roleplaying opportunities to be found.
There’s not much in the way of literal physical combat, but (putting aside the question whether certain dialog encounters should be considered combat) why is that a required feature for an RPG?
Bounced off this game twice, but I’m determined to keep my second game alive if only because I kicked Measurehead’s ass. Unfortunately that’s all I can really remember about Day 1.
Truly immersing yourself in the role.
It isn’t. At all. In an RPG, during a town crawl, say The Witcher Chapter 2, does the game cease being an RPG because there isn’t combat (much)?
People are just idiots and get confused when they can’t kill things. That’s my only take-away when people think Disco is a fucking Visual Novel.