back to article I caught Disco Elysium fever. No, not the Saturday Night kind. I was really quite poorly

Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Happy birthday to me and merry Winterfest to you, gamers of the world moonlighting as IT pros. And let's not forget to have a bountiful New Year. It's been an absolute blast writing this thing for the past eight months, so thanks for …

  1. Stumpy

    Couldn't agree more with the comments made in this review.

    Whilst it's a beautifully realised world and concept, and something that [i]should[/i] have been right up my alley (being a full-on 100% RPG nerd) there's just [i]something[/i] about the whole thing that's put me off playing it after around a couple of hours through sheer boredom.

    As a case in point, I'm now back to re-playing the venerable Baldur's Gate series as a precursor to BG3 being released next year (or year after, let's be honest) and thoroughly enjoying the experience (again).

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I'm sorry

    You're telling me that there are hours and hours of dialogue, and what I say makes almost no difference ? What's the point then ?

    Thanks for the heads-up. This is one game I'll be avoiding.

    That reminds me that I have Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition I and II on Steam. Might be time to go and relive those proper RPGs.

    1. jospanner

      Re: I'm sorry

      Yeah maybe sometimes the world shouldn't revolve around the player, and instead be the player should be exploring the world.

  3. tiggity Silver badge

    proof reading

    Given the reference to the book being written in Estonian & awaiting a translation, is it likely that most of the dev team also do not have English as a first language and so likely to struggle on getting the text correct (FSVO correct, native English speakers often do not care (e.g. less when really should use fewer) and usage changes e.g. slow death of the apostrophe, gradually adoption of US approach of "no noun that can't be verbed" etc.)

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: proof reading

      Yes, I believe they're majority Estonian. But still not acceptable for the genre of game, particularly when there's only an English translation for now. Like I said, I'd happily do it for them.

      1. Loyal Commenter

        Re: proof reading

        To be fair to them, Estonian isn't related to indo-European languages, sitting in a relatively small language family with others such as Finnish. I don't personally speak, or understand and Finnish, but I think it'd be fair to say it will have a syntax that differs significantly from that of English. Estonian speakers won't be handicapped by having to learn a new writing system, as speakers of Asian languages would, so you probbaly won't find such humorous mistranslations as you do with "Chinglish", but I bet you'll still find that there's a significant enough difference in language structure to make detailed translations of large chunks of text a non-trivial job. Despite this, I reckon many Estonians will still speak better English than a good number of English people.

        As a European nation, we are pretty much unique in thinking that everyone else should learn our language yet not bother to ever gain more than a rudimentary understanding of anyone else's language. Some people may even be "proud" of this "achievement", but I think it lessens us.

    2. BinkyTheHorse

      Re: proof reading

      They're Estonians, not Martians, they certainly know how to use a spellchecker.

      1. Muscleguy

        Re: proof reading

        Spellcheckers can be borked by the user clicking ‘learn’ without the aid of a dictionary. It is annoying when it knows the singular of a word but refuses to recognise a simple ‘add an s’ plural though. Surely that could be coded?


      2. 9Rune5

        Re: proof reading

        Some people are immune to spellcheckers.

        I had a long argument once with a person who was consistently spelling 'poor' as 'pour': "You pour thing". I couldn't even persuade her to break open the dictionary.

        A former boss released documentation where he confused "below" with "bellow". Same phenomena, he absolutely refused to check the dictionary. His tool was bundled with Borland Delphi at the time, so relatively wide audience. I guess I could have "bellowed" at him, but I doubt it would have helped.

        Foreigners. You just cannot epxect them to spell plopely.

        1. Omgwtfbbqtime

          Re: proof reading

          Eye sea watt ewe did their.

          (sorry about the did... couldn't think of a homophone for it).

  4. Blockchain commentard

    "bathed in the soggy, stinking darkness of the mother of all hangovers, splayed out on the floor" - er, are you just waking up in the WeWork bar or have you started the review?

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      We've been there, yeah.

  5. jospanner

    "Here is a game where you are a business owner and you employ/fire people while making products and exploit natural resources..."

    Not political.

    "...and those workers might potentially go on strike."

    How dare you inject politics into my video gamings.

    1. Muscleguy

      Look on the bright side, at least it isn’t a resource management game. I never understood how my wife could manage all day in her job then play resource management games in the evening, weekends and often the middle of the night (without any reddening of the screen light (Insomnia be thy name).

      I run away screaming from any RPG with a resource management element. Politics I can handle, but spare me management.

  6. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Sounds like the Shadowrun games

    The dialog in particular sounds like the Shadowrun games, where you click through endless dialog screens and can basically say whatever you want, with only a few opportunities to really affect the story. Those were also not AAA-quality.

    1. BinkyTheHorse

      Re: Sounds like the Shadowrun games

      I'm not sure we played the same games.

      While the dialogs are definitely "wordy" at times (but that's by design), they do influence what paths of solving problems you follow, what companions you get, what companions you keep, the availability of any unique items or abilities (yours or the companions'), how you interact with various factions, the possibility of secondary characters assisting you in some missions, and - not spoiling to much - even the possible endings. Certain choices can often take you out of a difficult fight - or into one.

      Granted, this was more fleshed out in the second and third games (Returns is by comparison rather short and simple). Also, all three of them eventually got free "Directors Cut" versions, which are much more polished.

      Ultimately, however, this comes back to what are your expectations for such games. If you're of a mindset of "clicking through" rather than "experiencing the setting" then, well, no wonder you didn't find it to your taste. And that's of course OK, but that doesn't mean certain design choices are bad.

      PS. No, I'm not funded by Harebrained Schemes, I just like the stuff that they make ;).

      1. baud

        Re: Sounds like the Shadowrun games

        Also the HBS Shadowrun games have a combat system separated from the dialogue system, unlike Disco Elysium. On the other hand DE's dialogue system is slightly more complex with the skills interjecting in the dialogue as characters.

  7. baud

    "A dorky name"

    You should have seen how it was called at the start of the project: "No truce for the furies". I preferred that title, even if I don't miss the endless furry jokes that littered the forum thread where I first heard about that game.

    "biases in intellect, psyche or physique"

    You missed the perception bias here.

    Regarding any possible "wokeness", I'd say it's an equal opportunist ideology puncher in how it treats them. It's political in the sense that it doesn't shy away from political themes, but it isn't used as a pulpit to preach an ideology, unlike other recent (and not-recent) games (which is usually the underlying issue of the people crying "kEeP pOlitIcS oUt of My gAmEs").

  8. Alan Travis

    "This struck me as a cool way to start a game. Rather than heading out as someone already au fait with society and its norms, your character is hopelessly lost and so are you."

    Such a cool (and convenient for the writers) way to start a game, in fact, that it's been done to death thousands of times, and is such a tired cliché of game writing that it has its own page on TV Tropes, and is considered a sin on a par with "and then he woke up and found it had all been a dream".

  9. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    "if you decide to be a total idiot – hey, that might be your play style"

    And one that will get you kicked out of any real-world tabletop RPG game..

    Yes, it might be amusing to kill other players (or NPCs) for kicks *once* but doing it again and again because you are bored is going to get you ejected ASAP. As will continuously making sexist and racist jokes, especially after being explictly asked not to. And no, it's not "just a bit of fun".

    Yes, I've played with people like that and, without fail, they have been kicked out after a few sessions.The sad thing is, they often cause other, good players to quit too.

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