I wish I could play Disco Elysium again for the first time. This unconventional role-playing game from the developer ZA / UM looks like no other game. The surprising narrative, complex world, and flawed characters have the power to transport your mind to dark and delightful places. Although Disco Elysium was exclusive to PC when it launched in 2019, The Final Cut brings the experience to consoles and opens this strange world to a new wave of superstar detectives. And while it can’t turn back time for those of us looking to relive the first pass, the additions to The Final Cut offer a worthwhile return trip.
The main thing you need to know if you are new to Revachol is that Disco Elysium is a story-driven, non-combat RPG that puts you in the role of a cop investigating a bizarre murder. But at the beginning of the game, this cop went down a drug addicted route to destruction. Through your actions and dialogue during the investigation, you are moving towards salvation or destruction (or somewhere in between) as you struggle with the warring voices in your head. The tone can go from hilarious to poignant to soul-destroying in a single conversation, but writing has a special talent for highlighting beauty amid desolation. I don’t want to say too much and risk spoiling great moments, but Disco Elysium’s unique approach to combining storytelling and gameplay is really something special. For more basics, see my original review.
Disco Elysium has received critical and gamer praise, but The Final Cut isn’t just a re-release. ZA / UM made some important adjustments to refine the game. However, my favorite is the full screen reader. Instead of just getting a few sentences to paint the characters’ outlines, now you get a more complete sense of their personalities and mannerisms. I enjoyed all of the performances, but the main narrator (voiced by Lenval Brown, which you can hear in the trailer above) is particularly noteworthy. This is a text heavy game, and Brown provides an amazing amount of information with a style that perfectly matches the atmosphere.
While most of the core content in The Final Cut remains unchanged, new political vision quests allow players to choose one of four new quests tied to different ideologies. These mutually exclusive duties open up based on your detective’s political leanings – like communism and fascism – and you ultimately decide which ones to pursue. After saving / reloading to see what they all offer, I’m impressed with how well these new destinations fit into the original experience. You don’t feel attached or strange; They are natural extensions of the already existing topics and serve as satisfactory punctuation marks. Some of them introduce new characters and areas, while others allow you to interact with familiar faces in different contexts. The fascist (aka racist) thread made me laugh the most, but whichever one you choose, the vision quests are cleverly written and have a minor but permanent impact on the game once you complete them – like visual changes to the big statue in the roundabout for example.
As an isometric RPG, controlling Disco Elysium was previously a matter of mouse and keyboard. Obviously that wouldn’t work for the console versions, so the user interface for gamepads has been tweaked (and the PC version now supports it too). However, the controls are the only part of this package that doesn’t feel improved. The compromises aren’t exactly surprising; It’s nice to move your character directly with the analog stick, but the map was originally designed with a point-and-click interface, making certain paths through the world difficult to see and navigate. I’ve also had several instances where I pressed a button to interact with an object, but nothing happened until I repositioned myself and tried again. On the one hand, this inconsistency is frustrating. Disco Elysium, on the other hand, isn’t a game that requires quick action and responsiveness, so it didn’t significantly detract from my overall enjoyment.
No two runs of Disco Elysium are alike. When you come back to this, The Final Cut is a great opportunity to make different decisions, pursue different ideologies, and see new branches of history. If you already own the game on PC, The Final Cut is available as a free update. For console gamers who have been waiting for what it’s all about, this version offers a complete picture of why this unique setting and story deserves so much praise. Disco Elysium is a must-see, and The Final Cut is the best (and for many people the only) way to play it.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut is currently available for PS5, PS4 and PC. It will be released on Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, and Switch this summer.