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 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?
Oh, for some reason I thought it was something else…maybe I wanted the skills but not the narration? But I think now I don’t want either, and maybe I’ll do another playthrough of this actually!
Ohhh, wait, I think I know why I didn’t do this. It shuts off the Ancient Reptilian Brain (and sure, the Limbic System) which is absolutely. Totally. UNACCEPTABLE. Mikee Goodman just absolutely fucking crushed it with the ARB, and his voice is every bit as crucial to my memories of this game as Kim’s and to an extent Cuno’s old one. Ahh…