ZA/UM's inventive RPG proved to be one of the year's most intriguing experiences.
Disco Elysium had almost completely flown under our radar when the review code hit the office, and thus, without having any expectations of what the experience would or should be, we went in rather blind. As it turns out, Disco Elysium was a game that would skyrocket up on our list of game of the year contenders and join the exclusive club of games that have been given 10/10 on Gamereactor.
Disco Elysium was developer ZA/UM's debut title and the attention to detail, the quality of the narrative, the portrayal of the in-game characters, the gameplay systems and how they were used, and the wacky dialogue options all come together to create an absolutely phenomenal experience that differs from player to player, depending on what each player chooses to do and say when stepping into the shoes of the game's protagonist.
The protagonist in question is, at the beginning of the game, an unnamed, high-ranking police officer who, prior to the start of Disco Elysium, had lost his memory after a week-long bender. Following this instant memory loss, causing the protagonist to not just forget who he is, but where he is and what year it is, it's up to you as the player to help him find the way back to a stable mental state (or unstable, depending on what type of player you are) while at the same time looking for answers, making/breaking friendships, and, of course, solving a murder case.
Apart from an engaging narrative and some fun characters lingering around a town in turmoil, Disco Elysium also features some of the more innovative dialogue and RPG mechanics we've encountered. From time to time, one would converse with one's own senses, theories, limbs and thoughts, all of which had something to offer the player in dialogue, be it to help or to sabotage them throughout the game. All of these could then be upgraded and used in other dialogue or actions through a classic dice roll mechanic, making for some very interesting gameplay indeed.
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Depending on one's choices made, the protagonist is shaped into a different person, and these choices alter the way others perceived them in the game, and because of the deep character customisation and the exceptionally written dialogue, the game never once felt tedious or drawn out. One thing we particularly enjoyed was the fact that even the most outlandish side missions never felt impossible or ridiculous, as the protagonist's own body and his senses had us engaged in every little anomaly in a way that never had us questioning a single detail. Anything could happen and anything could be achieved and we'd get to the bottom of it all - maybe the 74th try would be the winning try.
Disco Elysium truly is a marvel in game design and we're delighted to have had the opportunity to praise it to the extent that we have. If you have yet to check the game out, especially if you're a fan of the genre and not afraid of some dialogue-heavy gameplay, we urge you to start your investigation as soon as possible. You won't regret it.