JoJoestar I think what the game tries to do with Harry is portray this “sad sack of shit” as someone both despicable but relatable at the same time.
Yes, that’s a great way of looking at it. And the game also gives you tons of agency to decide what you think this despicable-yet-relateable sad sack of shit should, could, or would do in his particular situation. Players are given the freedom to, uh, I guess, roleplay somewhat honestly with this guy and send him straight back on the train to benderville on the fuck-up line if you really want to, you can basically roleplaying this character’s own sincere self loathing. You can even literally in-text fulfill his wish to commit suicide if you really want to, which, might be pretty rare in videogames where it is this explicit about what is happening.
JoJoestar I personally think sober Harry was probably a decent guy who could have tried to give Cuno a chance, as I did during my playthrough. I personally don’t read the game as a the player acting as a Deus Ex Machina entity who can pilot this guy’s life however they feel like.
Heheh, I think, what to me was most fun about the feeling like I was a Deus Ex Machina entity who piloted this guy’s life however I felt like at least for a limited window, which was that I was a benevolent totalitarian. I kind of like the thought that once the credits are rolling I am letting go of this guy back to live his life for himself. So I took a spring cleaning approach. We sobered his dumb ass up (not even speed! (and I take what is at least for sure speed adjacent in real life so this makes me a bit of a hypocrite)), got him to face the facts about his ex-fiancee, made him a few new and fast friends, helped out the local youth, got him involved in some meaningful local organizing, and so on. In my own megalomania I like to think that even if Disco Elysium 2 doesn’t have you controlling Harry again that he’d persist in being at least sorta sober and sort of a communist.
So I suppose I was disgusted at Harry but not in the way in which I wanted to punish him and let him destroy himself so much as I had to give this sad sack of shit a chance at survival without me lol.
JoJoestar But for example there is also Kim, to me he is clearly the moral compass of the game, he doesn’t hate Harry, he notices immediately the guy is very troubled, but he is willing to give the dude a chance, and if you play a certain way there is this immense sense of camaraderie, loyalty, friendship and respect that ends up being born precisely from the differences between both characters.
I find this so interesting the way you put it, because I did find him to be a moral compass, and an all around excellent human being who Harry ended up forming a deep bond with (I still feel a deep regret about not successfully protecting him during the tribunal even if that does result in a funnier mood to the ending… I really ought to go back and replay it with Kim). Kim, though, was also usually more pronouncedly conservative than the Harry I played as possessed by a mischievous ultraleft goofball.
So in a way I saw Kim quite differently, I saw him as the second person I was most invested in further radicalizing after Harry lol. He was a moral compass but one in which had too strong of a pull toward the centre, but in a way where he seemed aware of the limitations of his own current ideology and worldview. So I saw him as less of a compass and more of a pragmatist/realist who had begun to have pragmatic and intellectual questions about the status quo, but who was willing to listen and maybe even begin to be changed over time by the right sort of moral or ideological foil. From the way I played it, it felt like Harry and Kim were bonding over both having a moral ideal to strive for. Kim represents a pragmatic, basically life-preserving realism, with a Harry I played him as suddenly being inspired to represent the argument to very well meaning Kim that pragmatism only worked to a certain point. And, maybe in what was new to Kim, that the paramaters that define what the pragmatic approach is are designed to limit one’s power to resist the status quo, and that even if finding alternatives to the status quo’s pragmatism can be dangerous or vulgar, alternatives are needed to solve the problems from the root.
I thought it was a genius move to make Kim a marginazlied racial/ethnic minority (in-universe but also coded as such to us as the audience) whose family had assimilated into the dominant culture. As someone who beyond physical appearance was, as he may have put it, Revacholian in all relevant ways, but who was nonetheless the target of racism anyway, it made his attitude toward both morality and his duties as a member of the RCM make so much sense. His exacting nature and his pride in his work is clearly borne from knowing that he has to work twice as hard and be twice as morally consistent to get a quarter of the way as far as someone not from a marginalized identity. So I understand both his inclination toward a more conservative mindset, but also, I feel it was established that despite being someone who still believes in a lot of it and even is an example of it being put to good use, but also that he always would have had a little voice in the back of his head that always said “…but I know and have seen with my own eyes that that’s all bullshit, based on how they treat me no matter how perfect I am, even by their own standards.”