Disco Elysium first impressions – Indie Insights

Below is the transcript of the Disco Elysium preview and first impressions video

Welcome everyone to Get Indie Gaming and to a new indie insights episode where I’ve been playing the preview review build of Disco Elysium which comes out October 15th via Steam. 

Well after more than a quick look through the press briefing info I’m pretty much overwhelmed by it all even before starting to play. 

We’re told playtime is in the region of 60 or so hours for most folks although those looking to see and do everything the game has to offer should get ready for 90 + hours. Now that’s which is one heck of a time investment for anyone. 

With a family and work commitments it’s a rare occurrence for me to look at committing to play this type of game for review purposes. Of late I’m drawn to titles I can either play in say 2 to 3 hours from start to finish or those I can cut into similar sized chunks.  I’m planning on tackling Disco Elysium with similar gusto and I’m not fully convinced given it’s complexities I’ll benefit by doing so. 

It’s also one heck of an ambitious project from this first timer developer whose take to market approach has focused very heavily on how much content and opportunity for differential play there is within it. While not on the same energy levels as the pre-launch excitement of lets say no man’s sky of which I was at times somewhat complicit, its a risky hook to hang a hat from. Does it live up to the premise?  Lets take a further look. 

Disco Elysium is a isometric (ish) top-down RPG set sometime in the 1950. It’s a modern take on the desk-top dice games of my youth where begin within a fairly grotty part of the harbour district within the city of Revachol. You awake in an alcoholic haze within the body of a broken former detective and someone who to say politely hasn’t looked after themselves too well for quite some period of time.

From the get go Disco Elysium as an assault on the senses. Visually it’s stunning.  The hard drawn art style is painterly in its nature and reminds me of oil on canvas.  While much of the gameplay focuses on the text, the character designs and animations are better than most you find in RPGs. 

Revachol is also a far darker place than I’d expected. After a few hours I’d already given a teenage drug addict a good slap around the face. 

I’ve also had a decent falling out with a wheelchair paraplegic and was asked to do handle a corpse with less than a modicum of respect and oh so much more that it’s genuinely uncomfortable.    As far as realism goes in terms of my empathetic response, Disco Elysium has left me covered in a thin layer of grime. Sure, it’s just a game although I’d rather it didn’t elicit this type of response. 

One area which may make me stop playing to the conclusion is the text which in a game like this, is kind of a big deal. 

I’ve mentioned before I have issues with certain fonts and unlike say Overland, Disco Elysium doesn’t let me change to something more friendly for my dyslexic brain and this really is a shame.

In truth and having put a good number of hours into this preview review build, I’m currently os so very on the fence. My opinion really could go either way. 

Yes it is so very cleverly written and I can’t ever recall having the depth of conversations I’ve had with NPC in any RPG over the past couple of years and perhaps ever. Not all of the conversations flow so well. Some of the pacing is off tempo with uneven sections and plenty rhythm breaks. 

In something so large as this with such a small team working on it well that’s perhaps understandable although it breaks my immersion and enjoyment. Again though, I am overwhelmed by it. The attention to detail as I’ve alluded to is astonishing and I’m often left muddled and not too sure what it is I really should be doing. 

I flirt from one thought to another, one scene to the next where I’m asked to do more and more things.  Many of these I really don’t fancy doing although having spoken to a few others playing the demo it seems I’ve been playing somewhat inefficiently – which perhaps explains an awful lot. Perhaps the slight nagging doubts of my time spent so far with Disco Elysium are merely teething issues from someone more used to playing things such as Untitled Goose Game or Mutazione. 

I’ll give Disco Elysium it’s due diligence over the time I have left before launch. There’s something great here, I can sense it and yet like a fish I’m destined to lose off the line, it’s sure fighting me all the way into the net. 

And so with that, have you had a chance to look into Disco Elysium? If so, what do you make of it and are you planning to play when it launched on October 15th.  Let me know your thoughts down below and I look forward to seeing you all here gain soon for more indie game videos. 

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