Disco Elysium is an isometric RPG with a watercolor-like aesthetic and an emphasis on “unprecedented” levels of freedom in regards to in-game choices. According to the store page, the world of Revachol is “alive” with “real people.” You’ll be able to manipulate characters into working with or against each other while choosing to help, hinder, or even romance them for yourself.
In the game, you take on the role of an unnamed detective with an alcohol problem. This is reinforced from the very first moments of Disco Elysium: you wake up with a nasty hangover, which has managed to almost completely wipe your memories, forcing you to re-learn names, places, and even your own profession.
To make matters worse, depending on your skill choices at the start of the game and throughout, you’ll be dealing with quite a few of your own psychological demons. Various skills — which usually seem to represent parts of your consciousness — will chime in constantly, and at times even argue with each other. Yes, your character is just a bit nuts.
There are 24 of these skills in total, and you can mix and match them as you please. To name a few, you’ll be able to spec into Rhetoric, Drama, Empathy, Inland Empire, Shivers, Visual Calculus, Hand-Eye Coordination, and more.
Naturally, they’ll come in handy across a wide variety of situations; not just internal dialogues. You may need them to interact with objects, persuade NPCs, or keep your cool in combat, for example.
In terms of other RPG-ish systems, you’ll be able to equip “14 tools” ranging from boomboxes to guns and flashlights, as well as a whopping 80 clothing items (a not-insignificant amount for a lower-priced indie game such as this). There’s also plenty of psyche-altering chemicals for you to imbibe.
There’s also the slightly weird “Thought Cabinet” system, which lets you commit to “60 wild thoughts.” These thoughts will offer you various buffs and debuffs, and can be “internalized” after some time to morph their effects.
So, what will you actually be doing during the game? The core storyline of Disco Elysium involves a “massive murder investigation,” but the game promises plenty of other activities for players to partake in, too.
You can take on side quests (investigation-related or otherwise), go dancing, sing your heart out during a karaoke session, or simply do your best to help the people of Revachol. In true RPG fashion, the choice of which paths to follow and which quests to pursue is yours.
There are plenty of other gameplay details we didn’t discuss here, but if Disco Elysium sounds like your cup of tea so far, you can pick it up right now on Steam for $39.99. If you prefer your games to be of the DRM-free variety, the title is also available on GOG for the same price. If you opt for the latter storefront, GOG will throw in a copy of the excellent UnderRail (another CRPG) for free; until October 22, anyway.