Let's talk about Disco Elysium okay?

@yeso to respond to your question about how I felt about the game's conclusion wrt righteous leftist vengeance compared to pathologic 2, here are my thoughts:

Please Look Forward To Disco Elysium 2!

Okay in all seriousness. I can split up my thoughts on the ending into four categories.

  • - The Mercenary Tribunal
  • This was a fantastic bit of CRPG chaos. I love how many different outcomes there are, how tense it feels, and how much is at stake. It really caught me by surprise, timing-wise, as well. I also think it represents more or less how drunk war criminals would act.

  • - The Deserter
  • I am a *little* disappointed the game didn't give me an option to *choose* to refuse to arrest the Deserter, and to simply walk away.* It makes up for it with the wonderful event that happens after (I totally thought I had missed the opportunity to follow that questline through). The conversation with the Deserter is one of the most fascinating ones in the whole game in the sense of trying to understand his viewpoint.

    *- Should perhaps be noted that my companion for this sequence was Kuuno, so if Kim won't let you leave the scene without arresting the Deserter, I wouldn't know about that because the Cuno won't object to walking away at least from the conversation. But all that made me do was walk back to the boat, frustrated that the Cuno was going to make me go back there and click the button to arrest the guy.

  • - The Debriefing With Your Cop Buddies
  • This was annoying, honestly. They should have shown up BEFORE you go on the boat, and you come back with proof that everything you were saying was true. Plus it just feels like the game yanks away my sense of agency with the character away at the last second. Why do I still want to be a cop...? *I* sure don't even if the character does.

  • - The Nascent Revolution(?)
  • Maybe there is something to the idea of leaving us yearning leftists with something to yearn for. In some ways Disco Elysium is a game that played out in a way where it would feel cheap and contrived for it to have ended on the eve of an actual revolution. And, your conversation with the Deserter is deliciously and appropriately bleak, crushingly depressing, and tragic, but in a way that feels almost like you're metaphorically closing the chapter of this period of history. For there to be a revolution in Revachol, the period of history you would call the Failed Revolution must end, the insurrection of the past is impossible to revive. Something new has to happen, and no one knows what that will be, just yet.

    I might have mentioned this way back when earlier in this thread, but for as great as I think DE is, was a bit let down by the “personal journey” sad sack direction the game takes. Granted it‘s about 1000x more successful at this than just about anything else in the medium, but I thought the catharsis esp as tied to urgent politics to be a dodge. Or if it’s exactly sincere and intended, I guess I don't agree with that narrative line and it seems artificial.


    @Gaagaagiins#26862 closing the chapter of this period of history

    yes this is the sense I got as well, which I think is not really as clear-sighted as the game might portray. Did the the revolution "fail" because it was "wrong," or was it beaten into exhaustion and surrender by a bunch of guys with guns? (It's the latter). It's sort of a dodge I think to view an egalitarian/democratic/socialist revolution as a failure due to internal weakness in this context bc then you're always in this state of planning, revising, reconsidering, etc. rather than regarding the real obstacles, as monumentally daunting as they may be. So the trainwreck cop personal reckoning is sort of a pressure-release, which at least to me is a limitation. The hauntology angle is useful for clearing the fog of hegemonic neoliberalism, but it's not good to just marinate in the self regard/pity that might come from that introspection. I get some "personal responsibility" vibes from DE that I suspect aren't really intended, just a product of the narrative conventions the game settles into

    Also thinking about how in DE the space time fabric of reality or whatever is disintegrating - why struggle for socialism when existence is dissolving I guess

    compare to pathologic 2, which is not a explicitly leftist game, at least not in the openly rhetorical way DE is, but if you get the nocturnal ending (||the good ending, of course||) you get to go more or less full ||J. Sakai||. I was watching one of those 17 hr youtube essays about pathologic 2, and the guy, god bless he meant well, talked about "tradition vs progress" being one of the core conflicts, but of course that's incorrect and I don't think the game takes that perspective. It's instead, I think ||materially realist in it's portrayal of steppe v town as a conflict in which the "colonizer" marginalized through violence and economic coercion the steppe community, not because it's superior in any sense but in that it was better prepared and/or willing to use force to do so - it's not that the steppe culture is "backwards."||

    I also have some half-thoughts about how much actual agency Artemy has, and how that's negotiated in the game. Both Patho 2 and DE have a personality/identity recovery and/or transformation process which have interesting divergences, and how those relate to setting/them. Got ot get my dumb ass to work rn though


    @JoJoestar#7249 I have this super long essay on the fridge waiting to be published for the magazine I collaborate with

    I'm happy to say that this thing I mentioned several months ago is finally going to be published on Friday! It's only in Spanish so I think most folks won't be able to check it out, but at the very least I'm excited for @yeso giving it a look, since he understands the language.

    As a teaser, one of my editors asked to incorporate a quote at the beginning of the text as a prelude of sorts, and I opted for this one from The Invention of Morel, from Adolfo Bioy Casares:


    «Asombra que el invento haya engañado al inventor. Yo también creí que las imágenes vivían; pero nuestra situación no era la misma: Morel había imaginado todo; había presenciado y había conducido el desarrollo de su obra; yo la enfrenté concluida, funcionando.»

    Which improvising a probably very bad translation would mean:


    «It is astonishing that the invention has fooled the inventor. I too thought that the images were alive; but our situation was different: Morel had imagined all, he had witnessed and directed the unfolding of his work; while I faced it finished, already in movement.»

    Edit: I got too caught up on the translation and forgot to link the thing!


    I will indeed be reading this “artículo” “el viernes”

    going to be the dissenting voice/grinch and say I don‘t like the voiced narration in the final cut edition. It’s an engaging and skillful performance, but at least for me it's too much intrusion right up on the part of my brain that follows the narrative text. Just kind of imagination-crowding, just speaking for myself

    Also looking forward to jo jo star finally revealing the real ultimate truth behind this game tmrw

    @yeso#27593 I actually don't like it either, in fact I would go as far as saying I strongly dislike it, mainly because the way I read the original was with every skill/aspect of Harry having its own unique voice. Having a single performance do all of it, and doing it this way, feels dampening in a lot of senses, it definitely subtracts from the choral quality the base game had, at least the way I read/experienced it.

    I really don't know if I will be able to do that! What I did is, let's say performative in a lot of ways. Sure hope you like it tho.

    Actually, today the five people that have participated on this special/monographic recorded a podcast going in depth with the game, as a companion piece to the whole thing, if anyone is interested I can send them the audio!

    This is IT.


    @yeso#27593 I always prefer reading. Don‘t like audiobooks, don’t like videos, almost always turn voice acting down, get furious if I'm reading a newspaper article and it has a video on autoplay that I have to pause before reading. It baffles me how not having to read something is always treated as an upgrade. Discounting accessibility concerns of course, but in my experience from work, having the text read by emoting actors can be as much an annoyance to people who need it read for them as it is for me.

    I agree, unfiltered text->brain works best for me, especially for large texts like the full wordcount of DE no doubt is in total. Also puts me at a distance from the protagonist‘s mind, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but seems contrary to the affect+mental process dice rolling gameplay (which is brilliantly done in this game)

    I read the article by forum user jojoestar…and it's great!

    It focuses on the use of good old fashioned dice throughout the game, rather than any other kind of hidden/abstracted/whatever rng skill check system it might have used instead. The significance of which I was too dense to pick up on. In fact I thought the tabletop game-maker story thread in the game was not too interesting, but I hadn't considered the how the dice motif/thread is woven throughout the whole game. Also, "Disco Polyhedron" is a great title

    @yeso#27774 Oh nice! And here I was getting ready for a polite dismissal! The idea I had came from my background in philosophy in general and epistemology in particular. As I think I already said earlier in the thread to me the game is a reformulation of what “role playing game” means. Rather than incarnating a character, you play as a conscience inside the brain of a character, in dialog with all the aspects and nuances of its psyche. In Disco Elysium we are not a cop, we are THE MIND of a cop.

    Disco Elysium definitely deals with topics, has stuff to say about them, and there are a good amount of clear cut situations and experiences that leave you with certain impressions, but the importance, hierarchy and the whole structure and presentation of how all those things intertwine all depend in fact on the player and what specifically he cares and cares not about the whole thing.

    Disco Elysium can totally be played as a comedy, a tragedy, a noir story, a sci-fi/weird fiction thing and a political drama in any combination and order of relevance all depending on the player and what they choose to focus on. Rather than state that directly I thought it would be fun to actually replicate this quality in something that tried to showcase the plasticity and flexibility of the whole game, and then I realized how well the idea of a dice with its facets/faces worked as a metaphor for all of this, especially with regards to how prominently they are at the mechanic and game design level.

    For example, I've seen you caught up in the personal drama of Harry and how plain and uninterestingly sad you feel it is, and that is something I hardly noticed because I was so caught up in the idea of The Pale and the metaphysical/ontological implications of having a hole in reality, a spot of absolute nothingness, sort of like an anti-aleph, that I could hardly pay attention to Harry's love related hardships. I don't think you are wrong, and I don't think I am right, that is how beautifully, well, polyhedric and multifaceted the game is.

    Also, I should clarify, I really think the dice is not an accidental or strictly mechanical conceit.

    One of the interpretations floating in my mind is that there is the implication of the game world and the characters are _ACTUALLY_ living inside a role-playing game. One of the things the pale could be is precisely the white margins of an actual world map printed in paper, the actual margins/limits of the available space they live in. There are other insinuations on the characters being inside a fictional world they are not aware of, like the frustrated space exploration and them not being able to clearly see the shape of the world, and them thinking is basically flat (like an actual map, you mean?). There was specifically this thought you could unlock at the beginning that really got me thinking. White Mourning I think it was called?


    You see yourself from above. You’re passed out on the blue tiles of the hostel room floor. Even from this distance you can see your eyelids flutter – at the mention of what? A great white object, letting out its sweet smell, like a Lily of the Valley. The little man’s forgotten its name, but he still remembers the feeling. And look, he moves! The feeling animates him. He instinctively reaches out for the feeling's best friend – a bottle of Commodore Red. He puts on his disco clothes and gets smaller and smaller…

    And when you solve it:


    …and the little guy gets smaller and smaller as you rise above the doll house world. You see him out in the snow, on the streets, in the shop on the corner, and, finally, in a matchbox house. Sitting by the window, white flowers on the windowsill. You can smell them from up here: it's awful. A white mourning. A modern death. Divorce, or something similar. All you can do is put more distance between you and him, make him smaller. Make him less you.

    It can be read as a representation of Harry's sadness but the skill really lets you zoom out the game more, making all the flavor text sounding extremely literal. The doll house world, the world inside of the videogame.

    Connecting this to the dice maker subplot, I mean, those are the only items in the whole game with "supernatural" properties. They open white checks (actual dice throws, mind you) for no reason, and also make certain critical and progression related checks significantly easier in a very unexplainable way. Unless, of course, this is a fictional game world ruled by actual dice rolls lol

    I mean, I love the way you can take the world building as something either extremely literal or radically poetic, depending on how you look at it. It's pretty great.

    your illustration of the game‘s malleability is making me wonder why I like DE as much as I do. Because your appreciation is convincing, but I usually get annoyed by I guess you might call it indecisive or over-diffuse art. Just a pattern of personal taste distinct to my weird brain I’m sure. But I think it may be that the paths through the game are have depth and conviction in themselves so my with blinders on playthrough was satisfying. I didn‘t/wasn’t able to take into account some of the marginalia: the tabletop rpg thread, the reality disintegrating thread, the cryptic thread (to a point) and mostly played social-realist. But I really enjoyed that I think especially as it was surrounded by all that other stuff

    I dare not read the article through google translate, but I love the ideas being put down here. And, I think it really speaks to the ambition of the presentation of the game‘s interactive character that there are so many ways of really looking at it and understanding what is being presented to you. It’s like in the course of trying to figure out how to make a novel interactive, their solution was to just execute the game as one of the most intriguing interactive experiences in CRPGs, ever. The absolute madpersons

    @yeso#27905 Well if I had to speculate on the reasons that may be the case (that you like the game I mean) I would think of what happens with certain exceptionally good novels, movies or other pieces of media. You know, those that can cover a big array of themes and ideas while also saying something and incorporating purpose to them. Disco Elysium's world is actually based on a customized version of Dungeon and Dragons which the collective at ZA/UM have been playing and developing for actual decades. Imagine gathering a group of friends and building a world and working at it for that timespan, the game developers sidequest is definitely a riff on the actual personal journey at the studio. They are nerds, like us, but they are also cultured nerds (also like us? lol).

    What I'm trying to say is that, it may be malleable, plastic or even sparse but there is definitely substance to it, and I really don't want dillute or diminish that. The game clearly has a developed political discourse but also a sense of humour, as demonstrated by a team that thanked Marx and Engels at the Game Awards, notoriously capitalistic celebratory affair, and it has tons of things to say about actual problems, more than most games taking place in the real world, in fact. But there is also this playfulness palpable through its sense of humour and curiosity, that to me communicates a desire to be enjoyable, to be that dreaded word, _fun_. But I don't think it detracts from the game, if anything, I marvel at the fact the game is able to say this much stuff and pack the amount of punch it does while doing so.

    You can also take a look at the art, I think it sells very well this idea of directed chaos, of explosive but defined heterogeneity. The thought cabinet mural in particular does a great job on selling the idea of noise and disorder inside Harry's head, but it also definitely has a vibe and a style.


    The stat screen also does something similar, and even the impressionistic art style of the game itself kind of showcases all these things as well.


    So TL;DR would be, I would call Disco Elysium wrinkled, rich and dense, but definitely not indecisive or over-diffuse!

    I don't know, maybe Disco Elysium is just a sixty hour videogame, that is to say, a piece of media that uses sixty hours for actually something lmao

    i remember at some point reading/seeing robert kurvitz (DE project lead) describe the game as a “thought simulator”, which speaks super well to something @JoJoestar#27778 had mentioned earlier in the thread wrt us playing as the mind of a cop as opposed to that cop themselves, so that's a fun harmony there. i also totally agree with the concept and love where that places us as a player.

    makes me think about how well DE is able to balance making you play as a character who both has real baggage and stakes in the world they're in, while also still being a "blank slate" of sorts. despite not playing as a literal blank slate as one would in a b*thesda-type thing, there's never really the feeling of playing the game wrong by not doing "what the character would do" once you become accustomed to the game's momentum- you're just a new part of the main character's mind, making decisions as yourself or just however you'd like.

    that it is as highly variational-feeling as it is, while also being so deliberately constructed narratively/overall, is just totally incredible to me.


    @hugesugarcrystal#27921 makes me think about how well DE is able to balance making you play as a character who both has real baggage and stakes in the world they’re in, while also still being a “blank slate” of sorts. despite not playing as a literal blank slate as one would in a b*thesda-type thing, there’s never really the feeling of playing the game wrong by not doing “what the character would do” once you become accustomed to the game’s momentum- you’re just a new part of the main character’s mind, making decisions as yourself or just however you’d like.

    There is a very different version of this game without the retrograde amnesia angle, probably by consequence made by folks who think cops are good, that I think would be suffocating. Part of the fun of it, and as @JoJoestar framed, the way one can have a grand time playing the game as a comedy, is feeling like you really have totally hijacked this sad sack of shit, and can sort of force the interpretation of him as willing to give in to this new almost invasive part of his psyche, with his willingness being established retroactively and in real time as you roleplay.

    Makes me think of funny questions like, how fast _would_ someone with total retrograde amnesia come to the conclusion that communism is a good idea? How much does the accumulated baggage of socialization and propaganda in an anti-communist world contribute to people not being able to accept it? And so on

    @Gaagaagiins#27925 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. On one hand he is clearly the Kurt Vonnegut/Hunter S. Thompson stereotype, but the game offers numerous moments and situations that portray him as someone very troubled, yes, but also a person that had a degree of empathy, artistic sensibility, political views, interpersonal intelligence and so on.

    I like to think that everything the game allows you to think and do with the character sort of falls into one facet or another of how his psyche was (but still is) before he short circuited his own brain. 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.

    I didn't have this destructive urge to delete his identity or hi-jack it. But I think this is something the game certainly wants you to consider and react to. You can indeed hate and be disgusted at Harry, and go on a self-destructive rampage during the game if you feel like so. 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.


    @JoJoestar#27953 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#27953 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](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisdexamfetamine) 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#27953 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."