Posted in CRPG, CRPGs

Disco Elysium: Just call me… Hobocop

Taking a break from JRPGs this week, I turned back to a recent favorite CRPG that I wanted to explore a second time. Disco Elysium was a wildly different RPG experience than I’ve had in the past, and with its “Final Cut” update, I knew I wanted to see it again with all of its improvements. Plus, I wanted to unleash my inner craziness and go as weird as this game will let me.

Spoiler: It’s a whole lot.

This unusual alternate-world murder mystery begins with a completely soused detective coming to in a trashed room. He’s about as unlikable and unattractive as any film noir P.I. might wish to be… and mostly naked, too. Also, his head is filled with different voices that keep talking to him, but that’s part of the game’s setup and one must go with it. The bender was so bad, apparently, that it’s practically wiped out his memory (letting the player fill it in with choices).

Disco Elysium is a weird game to try to explain. It’s nominally a detective RPG that’s more about dialogue and investigation than combat. It’s got a very unique character growth system where you fashion your character out of 16 skills and various “thoughts” that can take root and grow into definable traits. For example, a conversation planted the idea that I could be a Hobocop… so I decided to pursue this to become even more unstable than I already am.

There are a lot of useful things to do right away on the first day. There are some helpful items — crowbar, flashlight, gloves — to grab, a partner to meet, a street map to swipe, and, most important of all, a yellow bag that allows you to scrounge for cans like a homeless bum. HOBOCOP!

I keep making detours on this first day, most notably to a nearby bookstore that is purported to be under a “curse.” After investigating the whole building, I find out that not only did there used to be a company there that did wireless RPG adventuring (which sounds really neat) but also there’s a die-maker who’s been peacefully making roleplaying dice.

The main thrust of this game is to figure out who killed this man who’s been hanging behind the hostel for a week now. It’s like a Laura Palmer/Twin Peaks thing, where the murder is the catalyst to crack open a can of worms on the area. The crime scene investigation is a lengthy bit with a whole lot of analysis and even feats of shooting (I mean, how do you get a hanged guy down when you don’t have a ladder or crane?).

Once you realize just how much freedom this game’s developers are willing to give you to act on pretty much any impulse you have, the fun really begins. For example, the murder victim is left with a pair of custom-fitted high tech armor boots. Boots that I kind of wanted, even though that would be stealing. So I didn’t have the body taken away just yet — I waited until my partner went to sleep for the night, came back to grab the boots, then went to the hotel’s kitchen to use a pot to boil the boots clean of… leftoevers. And now I’m wearing them proudly while the game tells me that my partner is deliberately ignoring their presence on my weird body.


One thought on “Disco Elysium: Just call me… Hobocop

  1. Great review of the game. Disco Elysium certainly does have an odd and quasi-realistic sense of humor about itself. I’m glad to see that others picked up on that as well. Thank you for the post and the effort.

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