Disco Elysium

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Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium Poster.jpeg
Designer(s)Robert Kurvitz
Artist(s)Aleksander Rostov
Writer(s)Robert Kurvitz
Composer(s)British Sea Power
  • Microsoft Windows
  • 15 October 2019
  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • 2020
Genre(s)Role-playing game

Disco Elysium is a role-playing video game developed and published by ZA/UM. It was released for Microsoft Windows on 15 October 2019, with a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release planned for 2020. The game is inspired by Infinity Engine role-playing games and tabletop role-playing games, and was written and designed by Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz. It received universal acclaim from critics, with some citing it one of the best RPGs of all time.


A screenshot of the interface

Disco Elysium is a role-playing video game that features an open world and dialogue-heavy gameplay mechanics.[1][2] The game is presented in an isometric perspective in which the player character is controlled.[3] In Disco Elysium, the player takes the role of a detective on a murder case who suffers from alcohol-induced amnesia.[4]

The gameplay features no combat in the traditional sense; instead, it is handled through dialogue trees and skill checks.[5] There are four primary abilities in the game: Intellect, Psyche, Physique, and Motorics, and each ability has six distinct secondary skills for a total of 24.[6] The player improves these skills through skill points earned from leveling up, and is able to raise a skill temporarily by equipping a piece of clothing.[5] Upgrading these skills help the player character pass skill checks, but could also potentially result in negative effects and character quirks. For instance, a player character with high Drama may be able to detect and fabricate lies effectively, but may also become prone to hysterics and paranoia. Likewise, high Electrochemistry shields the player character from the negative effects of drugs and provides knowledge on them, but may also lead to substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors.[6]

Disco Elysium features a secondary inventory system, the Thought Cabinet. Including a total of over 50, they are unlockable through conversations with other characters, as well as through internal dialogues within the mind of the player character himself. The player is then able to "internalize" a thought through a certain amount of in-game hours, which, once completed, grants the player character permanent benefits but also occasionally negative effects.[7]


Disco Elysium takes places in the fictional city of Revachol in the island chain of Insulinde, specifically in the Martinaise district which is plagued by poverty, crime and corruption.[1] Revachol is still very much marked by a failed communist revolution that took place almost five decades ago at the start of the game. The revolutionary movement was successful in overthrowing the old monarchy that controlled Revachol, and even formed a commune afterwards, but soon after its establishment, the communist government was itself toppled by an invasion of a wide alliance of capitalist nations, simply calling themselves "the Coalition", who wanted to bring a stop to the commune and the revolutionary experiment. Revachol has since been designated a Special Administrative Region under the Coalition, who holds a strong grip over the city's local economy and keeps its autonomy at a minimum. One of the few governmental functions that Revachol is allowed to handle itself is upholding the daily law and order, which is the task of the Revachol Citizens Militia, or the RCM, for short. While starting out as a voluntary citizens brigade, the RCM has since grown and evolved into a semi-professional police force.

The player-controlled protagonist is a detective sent by the RCM to investigate the murder of a man who has been found hanging from a tree.[1] Unfortunately, following an emotional breakdown, said detective has been going on a prolonged drinking binge around the Martinaise district, and he first comes to three days later in his trashed motel room, with no memory of who he is and what he was doing. It is now up to the player to both solve the murder case, and guide the detective to rediscover his identity by filling in the holes in his memory.

Development and release[edit]

Development started in 2016 by Estonian developer ZA/UM, with a writing team that consisted of eight writers.[8][9] The original title was No Truce With The Furies, but was renamed in 2018.[10] During development, the developer ZA/UM relocated from Estonia to London.[8] The lead writer and designer of Disco Elysium is Robert Kurvitz, a Karelian-Estonian novelist and musician, who had previously created the game's universe for a tabletop RPG, and later wrote a novel featuring the setting, titled Sacred and Terrible Air.[11][12] The game's art, drawn mostly in a watercolor style, was lead by Aleksander Rostov, while the game's soundtrack was written by the English indie-rock band British Sea Power.[13] The voice-acting cast includes progressive metal musicians Mikee Goodman of SikTh and Mark Holcomb of Periphery,[14] as well as Dasha Nekrasova of the American podcast Red Scare.[15][16] Four of the hosts of the podcast Chapo Trap House have voice-acting cameos as well.[17][13]

Disco Elysium was released for Microsoft Windows on 15 October 2019, with a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release planned for 2020.[18][19]


Aggregate score
Review scores
PC Gamer (US)92/100[1]

Disco Elysium received "universal acclaim" according to review aggregator Metacritic.[20] The game was praised for its memorable characters, depth of choice, writing and open world.[1][24][22] PC Gamer praised the game for its depth, freedom, customization, and storytelling and called it one of the best RPGs on the PC.[1] IGN praised the game's open world and compared it favorably to the The Witcher 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2, despite being much smaller.[22] The Washington Post said that the game is "conspicuously well written".[24] Conversely, Eurogamer criticized the game for not offering enough choice in role-playing and for a distinct lack of focus.[25] GameSpot awarded it a 10 out of 10, their first perfect score since 2017.[21][26] PCGamesN wrote that the game set new genre standards for exploration and conversation systems.[23]


Year Award Category Result Ref
2019 Golden Joystick Awards Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated [27]
The Game Awards 2019 Best Narrative Pending [28]
Best Independent Game Pending
Best RPG Pending
Fresh Indie Game (ZA/UM) Pending


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kelly, Andy (15 October 2019). "Disco Elysium Review". PC Gamer. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  2. ^ Cohen, Coberly, (16 October 2019). "Ambitious open-world RPG Disco Elysium lets you take on the role of a mentally unstable detective". Techspot.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. ^ a b Williams, Mike (16 October 2019). "Disco Elysium Review: The Voices in Your Head Are Real, and They'll Get You in Trouble". USgamer. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  4. ^ Lang, Brad. "Disco Elysium Review – Stayin' Alive". criticalhit.net. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Disco Elysium skills & character creation: Intellect, Psyche, Physique, Motorics, and the 24 skills explained". rockpapershotgun.com. 14 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Disco Elysium Thought Cabinet: the Thoughts system explained". rockpapershotgun.com. 15 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Making games under threat of nuclear war". GamesIndustry.biz.
  9. ^ Price, Edward. "Disco Elysium – Rezzed 2018 Interview". gameanalytics.com. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  10. ^ Tarason, Dominic (9 March 2018). "No Truce With The Furies gets a mad new title and trailer". Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
  11. ^ Taylor, Haydn (31 October 2018). "Chasing oblivion with Disco Elysium and alcohol addiction". Gamesindustry.biz.
  12. ^ Macgregor, Jody. "Disco Elysium's lead designer wants to make an expansion and sequel, has already written a novel". PC Gamer. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  13. ^ a b ZA/UM (15 October 2019). Disco Elysium. Scene: Ending Credits.
  14. ^ https://www.loudersound.com/news/sikth-and-periphery-members-star-in-hit-video-game-disco-elysium
  15. ^ https://twitter.com/viperwave/status/1184656071673044992
  16. ^ https://twitter.com/studioZAUM/status/1184524991213309952
  17. ^ "Twitter - Studio ZA/UM". 13 October 2019.
  18. ^ Marzano, Anthony (15 October 2019). "Police procedural cRPG Disco Elysium is out today". Destructoid. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  19. ^ McCarthy, Caty (31 October 2019). "Disco Elysium Coming to Consoles Next Year, Devs Confirm". usgamer.net. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  20. ^ a b "Disco Elysium". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  21. ^ a b Wildgoose, David (4 November 2019). "Disco Elysium Review - Pure Dynamite". GameSpot. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  22. ^ a b c Cardy, Simon (16 October 2019). "Disco Elysium Review". IGN. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  23. ^ a b Scott-Jones, Richard (8 November 2019). "Disco Elysium review – a new standard of RPG writing". PCGamesN. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  24. ^ a b Byrd, Christopher (17 October 2019). "'Disco Elysium': Riveting delirium". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  25. ^ Hetfeld, Malinda (18 October 2019). "Disco Elysium review - large-scale whodunit with a distinct lack of focus". Eurogamer. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  26. ^ GameSpot Staff (4 November 2019). "GameSpot's Full List Of 10/10 Reviews And How Those Scores Are Decided". GameSpot. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  27. ^ GamesRadar staff (25 October 2019). "Vote now for your Ultimate Game of the Year in the Golden Joystick Awards 2019". GamesRadar+. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  28. ^ Winslow, Jeremy (19 November 2019). "The Game Awards 2019 Nominees Full List". GameSpot. Retrieved 21 November 2019.

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