I remember sitting in my chair as I looked at my character who’s dressed in a scarf, cowboy hat and armour boots which you have to admit is pretty disco. And he proceeds to kick a door in his attempt to open it without a key. Not only it took a point from his HP, but it also took a point from his Morale due to his wounded ego. Yes, the game will also end if you get attacked mentally.
Disco Elysium is definitely something else. A game that reminded me and hopefully, other developers that games don’t have to follow a certain formula to attain access. Disco Elysium is about a detective who is going through an amnesiac hangover after days of partying with substances. The game literally starts with you waking up on the floor with only your underwear.
It’s a game that allows you to become any type of cop that you want. From a communist super cop to an apologetic pathetic hobo cop. The possibilities are endless. And while the game deviates from the normal game trope in that there’s no clicky combat or fighting involved, it makes the point up with the amazingly written story and choices of dialogue that you can cycle through.
I’ll be honest; it’ll take you a couple of tries to get your bearings for this game as you’ll find death in every corner of the game. And with the nature of the game that is a true detective game in the sense that it doesn’t hold your hand, here’s a guide on the essential things that might be able to help you in your first or perhaps the second playthrough. Let’s go, HARD-CORE!
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Don’t Aim For Perfect Play
- 2 2. Always Have a Couple of Unallocated Skill Points
- 3 3. Low on Cash? Collect Bottles
- 4 4. Space and Tab Keys Are Your Friends
- 5 5. Stuck in the Game? Consult Your Journal
- 6 6. Accessorize to Improve Your Checks!
- 7 7. Take Your Time and Avoid Save Scumming
- 8 8. Internalize Thoughts for Extra Stats
- 9 9. Time Works Differently in This Game
- 10 10. Listen to Your Brain (Sometimes)
- 11 Conclusion
1. Don’t Aim For Perfect Play
This is going to be your guiding star when it comes to Disco Elysium. Don’t aim for perfection. Choose the weirdest dialogues. Decide on the most outlandish things. Fail checks. You have to remember that Disco Elysium is filled with intricate layers of narrative and dialogue, which supplements different interactions and previous choices made by you.
There is no perfection in this game, only riding the wave that is Disco Elysium. Feel out on what sort of cop you want your character to play. Start playing your character in that mindset, and you’ll have a ton of fun!
2. Always Have a Couple of Unallocated Skill Points
With each interaction and dialogue that you’ve cycled through, you’ll earn experience points, and if you have enough, you’re awarded a skill point. Skill points in Disco Elysium are used to upgrade specific traits that belong under a specific attribute.
Though it is tempting to level those traits as soon as you can, keep at least two skill points on the side. The points will help, especially when you have a difficult check that needs you to put points on a certain trait. This will ensure that your investigation doesn’t come to a full halt.
You can also use your additional points to internalize certain thoughts that will give you permanent skill points or buffs to your character. But sometimes you end up internalizing thoughts that is going to make your life difficult, so you’ll be glad that you saved up your unused skill point to forget the internalized thought.
3. Low on Cash? Collect Bottles
One thing you’ll quickly realize about your pathetic character is that he’s flat broke. It’s going to cost you 20 réal a night to rent the place that you woke up in. What you are going to need to do is get a plastic bag and start collecting bottles.
Yes, your super detective will be walking around with a plastic bag in his hand at all times so that he can collect bottles on the go and earn some cash. You’ll get the plastic bag in the plaza area (outside the bookstore area), and you can deposit your findings in a vending machine that’s located inside Fritte convenience store (to the right of the Whirling Rag).
You’ll also find random objects of value which you can pawn off at the pawnshop (south of the plaza). Don’t worry too much about cash, as it would be much more available in later game and there are different alternatives that’ll be presented to you to aid your not-so-disco lifestyle.
4. Space and Tab Keys Are Your Friends
With the game being solely a pointing mouse game, there must be some things you can do to make your interactions more efficient. And let’s not forget the random thoughts orb that appears above your character every once in a while.
You definitely shouldn’t miss those. So, the TAB button helps you highlight interactive parts of an area that you’ll probably miss, given to the painted texture that the game went with. You can use the space button to activate your orb thoughts along the way, so you wouldn’t need to move your mouse and break your movement clicks.
Another small tip is that you can use your number pad to select the corresponding dialogue to help with efficiency. One hand on your mouse and the other on the keyboard. This will definitely help in feeling more comfortable as it is a familiar game hand “configuration”.
5. Stuck in the Game? Consult Your Journal
In the heat of things, it’s easy to forget the little tab on the bottom right corner of the screen. The ledger/notebook icon is where you can look at your to-do lists that include tasks for the main investigation, as well as side investigations that you’ll pick up along the way from NPCs.
The Journal also features a Map tab that shows all the available skill checks that you’ve encountered on the left side. If highlighted white, it indicates that the check can be performed again as it is a time based or skill point based check. You can cycle through the checks to see more information on who these checks are associated with, which could help with your progression in your tasks.
And if you still disoriented from the lack of a mini-map or the overall structure of Disco Elysium landscape, you can grab a map from the bookstore. Be warned though, the map is a general illustration of the area and greatly lack in details. So, if you’re short on real, maybe hold off buying the map. I’m pretty sure after 5 hours in; you’ll know the entire map like the back of your hand!
6. Accessorize to Improve Your Checks!
Here’s another tip. Remember all those whacky clothing items that you’ve been randomly switching back and forth? Those carry specific stats which can help you in your time in need! Sure, there are certain checks that appear randomly without the option for you to back out of the conversation and prepare, but this certainly helps when you need to get through a check. Dress as a flamboyant cowboy and pass through your Perception check without any fuss.
Another thing you can consider is the use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes to boost certain stats in a pinch, but it does make a point away from your HP or your Morale. Take this into consideration and remember, your character got to his story state because of substance abuse, so you might bump into interesting revelations along the way.
7. Take Your Time and Avoid Save Scumming
Disco Elysium is a story-driven game. There is no gunplay or combat mechanics. There is no point rushing into Disco Elysium. The game revolves around storytelling, and it’s done well into immersing the players into the role of a character that is impressionable with whatever decisions the player makes. The character is a blank (pathetic) slate, which you can slowly mould into a character that is you. Or at least the way you played it.
I’m sure there are times that the save scumming instinct comes during a failed check that kind of hurts. But hey, that’s what the game is all about. It’s about life. It’s okay if you failed the check. Get rejected, and life still moves on. The story will adapt to your failed attempt. Save scumming would probably not be a great thing to do, especially when the game is story/dialogue based. You could start to save-scumming after your first run, but I urge you to avoid it to experience the magically feverish hangover that is Disco Elysium truly.
8. Internalize Thoughts for Extra Stats
Every once in a while, throughout your gameplay, you’ll be confronted by a thought that you can internalize. Some of these thoughts can buff up your desired stats that you feel like you’re missing. Although there are some thoughts that don’t really show what it does until you internalized it. These thoughts will appear depending on how you choose your responses.
So if you think that Communism is pretty cool, then you’ll receive a thought that reflects that. Expect that within these buff providing thoughts, there is a chance it will take away some points from your other traits. You could balance it off with your choice of wardrobe. Internalizing is a game of chance, and you can remove your unwanted thoughts with a skill point. Oh, what’s that? You read through the article and followed my earlier advice on saving a couple of skill points? My man, get your disco on!
9. Time Works Differently in This Game
Unlike most games where the time closely mimics the real world whereby even if you’re standing about not doing anything, time will still go on in the game world. Not Disco Elysium though. Time is passed by interactions. The more you engage in a conversation with an NPC character, you’ll notice time slowly ticking away.
And sometimes when you need to do a task that can only be done at a certain time of the day, you could buy a book and start reading it. Watch time fly as you engage yourself with hilarious dialogues that accompany the book reading session. You could also sit around on a bench and wait for time to pass. Speaking of passing the time, another thing you could is…
Sneak Out Without Kim at Night:
If you feel like you want to try out certain stuff without getting judged by your partner, you could do it once he leaves you alone for the night. At precisely 21:00, Kim leaves you once you enter your quarters to retire for the night. But you could just sneak out and doing other quests, talking to people and saying pretty crazy stuff without Kim being there and reprimanding you, the superstar cop.
10. Listen to Your Brain (Sometimes)
One of the main components that make Disco Elysium interesting is the personified psyches that currently make up your character’s consciousness. Listen to their thoughts or deliberation when you’re interacting with an NPC for valuable insights.
For example, the Rhetoric attribute can poke holes into someone’s argument. A useful tool when interviewing a suspect, but not so useful when you’re breaking the will of an old washerwoman. So always keep an eye to what your inner mind is saying, but at the same time, be wary of the blindside that each of the attributes has. Logic helps in putting things together but is susceptible to flattery.
It’s best to spend some time going through each attribute’s info and learning about them. Sounds like a chore, but you’ll eventually end up doing it anyway as you slowly get sucked into the game.
Disco Elysium is a gem that has pretty much broken through the usual game tropes that we’ve seen so far. It has interesting gameplay which heavily relies on its excellent writing. The dialogues are written in a way that it feels you’re adding substance to your character with each interaction.
It’s a believable world that draws parallel to our own. Disco Elysium doesn’t hold your hand or gives you the easy way out. You wake up in a motel in your underwear, not knowing your name, with the potential of being an artsy communist cop or a high functioning disco cop. Hope these beginner tips help you in your quest to realize your own version of the main character.
What did you end up with? Did you survive the first 10 minutes of the game?