Disco Elysium - The Final Cut (for PC) Review (2024)

If you don’t think video games should have politics, don’t play Disco Elysium - The Final Cut. If you don’t think games should aspire to say something, this detective-RPG isn’t the game for you.That’s not to say the $39.99 game is a manifesto. The way it cynically, yet thoughtfully, criticizes a range of ideologies reveals the game’s politics aren’t nearly as narrow you might expect. But this isn’t wishy-washy centrism. Disco Elysium’s sympathies ultimately lie with working people and movements that center their best interests, despite asking you to play as cops on the other end of that equation.The brilliant role-playing mechanics and richly realized world would be impressive no matter the story, but Disco Elysium’s beating, thematic heart makes it the best PC game you can play at this moment in history.

Note that Disco Elysium - The Final Cut is a new version of the game that first released in 2019. The most significant changes include additional side quests and full voice acting. This update comes alongside the game’s console launch, and is free if you already own the original game on PC.

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Disco Elysium - The Final Cut (for PC) Review (1)

Thin Blue Line

Even if you didn’t know that Disco Elysium was written and designed by an Estonian novelist (Robert Kurvitz) you could probably guess that was the case. This is first and foremost an adult story, and the heady, literary density on display feels, well, like a brick-sized book you got assigned to read in college.

Fortunately, Disco Elysium makes a smart choice to ground its more esoteric concepts in a familiar formula: a police procedural. If you’ve watched Twin Peaks or The X-Files, you’ll know that nothing makes existential philosophy go down smoother than experiencing it alongside a couple of cops on a case. With its cold and heavy European aesthetic, Disco Elysium recalls the Nordic Noir crime dramas that blew up a few years ago, such as Bordertown or The Killing, albeit with a lot more dry and dark absurdist comedy.

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In the vulgar city of Revachol, you and your partner Kim Kitsuragi attempt to solve the mystery of who hung a local man and strung him up for all to see. It’s a solid murder mystery, full of clever twists and reversals throughout the dozen-hour playtime. But it’s also a pretense for the deeper investigation of the world itself and the sinister, yet familiar, social forces that shape it. Despite the fake names for countries and races, this is more of a realistic alternate history world than a cartoonish fantasy world. As you immerse yourself in the painstakingly textured worldbuilding, you’ll gain knowledge of all sorts of despots, failed revolutions, and conflicting political movements.

Your search stays limited to the industrial Martinaise district. Like a Yakuza game, Disco Elysium opts to give you a modestly sized, but incredibly deep, space to live in, instead of a broad, shallow map to explore. This keeps your investigation manageable, while offering a refreshing amount of freedom to go where you please, to follow plot threads and wild tangents in a somewhat non-linear fashion. You eventually unlock a form of fast travel, but at that point you’ll be so intimately familiar with the map it will feel wrong not to walk through those back alleys like a proper gumshoe.

Talking to people causes time to move forward, and certain actions only happen at certain points in the day. As a result, I found myself planning days, not unlike Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, weirdly enough. This isn’t Her Story, where typing a single word unlocks new plot dimensions. The freedom enables more fun experimentation than you would expect from a story-driven game. It’s surprisingly approachable.

To figure out what’s really going on, you must talk to people, lots of people. Every person in Martinaise matters, no one is a throwaway NPC. Punk kid Cuno gives you such a hard time you’ll want to punch him in the face, but your partner, Kim, is such a stand up guy that you won’t want to disappoint him. Union laborers explain why no one rightfully trusts the police or scab strikebreakers. Femme fatales seem poised to make your secret agent dreams come true, before you crash back down to reality. Cryptozoologists hang out with cryptofascists. These people and their stories, more than anything else, paint the best and bleakest portrait of life in Revachol. Cyberpunk 2077 wishes it was this convincingly depressing. It’s wonderfully written, and often incredibly funny. The new voice acting ups the immersion.

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What Kind of Cop Are You?

Then there’s you, the player character, the perfect picture of dishevelment, the “beautiful disaster of a human being” and black hole around which Disco Elysium orbits. Taking the classic, amnesiac, RPG-hero trope, the game casts you as a cop so self-destructive, so drugged out of his mind, that the perpetual hangover has left him totally oblivious to the world around him. His blighted brain is a blank canvas to project your role-playing on to. He can’t even see his own face in the mirror until you say so.

However, that brain isn’t totally empty. Your character’s head is crawling with various, vicious emotions and drives. These personified feelings constantly bicker, plaguing you with a constant and cacophonous internal monologue. Grappling with these different, growling impulses, indulging some one moment while ignoring others the next, is how you build your character. It’s your control over your character that makes this a great role-playing game instead of an illustrated audiobook.

Disco Elysium has the rough shape of a classic, western PC RPG: think Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment. Those familiar tropes get transformed to best serve the street-level yarn the game tells. So you equip different cop hats instead of armor, and you pick garbage to recycle for cash instead of discovering treasure. This is a game where firing just one bullet is a monumental event.

The most important and satisfying remixed RPG idea is how Disco Elysium approaches “classes” and “leveling up.” You earn experience from talking to citizens and solving puzzles related to the central mysteries. As you level up, you earn skill points to spend on various parts of your personality, your Psyche Skills. The stronger these Psyche Skills, the more likely you are to perform certain actions or succeed at certain skill checks. With high Volition, I worked up the nerve to just flat out ask rich people to give me money. I used my Empathy to find out the tragic real reason why someone was a jerk to me.

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Alongside Psyche Skills, you’ll occasionally come up with a Thought, or have one told to you. If you internalize a Thought (think about it for enough time), it affects your Psyche Skills and opens new dialogue choices. For example, internalizing a Feminist Agenda made me less afraid to put men in their place. Listening to the dizzying prejudice of Advanced Race Theory helped me get past a guard…before I mocked his entire belief system. After all, understanding an ideology doesn’t mean you agree with it or let it define you.

The choices you make give you a tremendous amount of agency over how your character interacts with other people. You only have so many points to spend, and you only have so much room in your head for new ideas. It takes hard work to see yourself as a super cop, a hobo cop, and a regular cop at the same time (these are all especially self-delusional Thoughts you can choose to internalize). Beyond being a genuinely fun character-building system, these mechanics serve as an evocative gameplay metaphor for the protagonist’s scattered brain. It pulls you into his headspace in a way that, again, resembles great literature.

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Dungeons and Das Kapital

Disco Elysium’s gameplay elements legitimately improve the experience, but they also occasionally butt up against the interactive storytelling in less than elegant ways. There’s no combat. Instead, you lose health or morale points depending on the decisions you make. Punch a mailbox out of anger? Lose some health. Get cheered up after seeing a seagull? Regain some morale. You can also purchase “healing items,” aka drugs. This is a cool system—other RPGs should steal this model.

One time my character got so bummed out by a prank phone call that he lost the will to live. I couldn’t even be mad about getting that game over. However, this system also means that you never really know when you might take lethal damage, which feels unfair. There’s no equivalent to stocking up before a boss fight.

The game's many tasks typically prevent you from getting stuck at dead ends, but the occasional, mandatory skill check halts the momentum at points where the story really picks up. One time, I had to either perform fetch quests or have a Shivers level so impossibly high that I could understand a building’s backstory just by touching a mural. In these moments, I wished the game would just turn into a slick, Telltale-style, cinematic choose your own adventure.

Still, those moments where the exceptions. I spent the vast majority of my time with Disco Elysium utterly absorbed, engaged, entertained, and inspired. I truly cared about the fates of characters and organizations. I fussed over how my character’s emerging, leftist political consciousness developed. I tried to be the best damn drunk, communist cop I could, and tailored my skills to achieve this. I wanted to write down every memorable line of text, but, thankfully, a Twitter account is already doing that vital work.

I saw myself in these people that use collective action to rage against hopelessness, these workers that demand fair contracts and rightful seats at the corporate table. I laughed to keep from crying about the poison of lazy corruption and greedy capitalism that we can’t seem to escape. I closed my eyes and danced at the disco.

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Can Your PC Run Disco Elysium?

Keeping with the game’s working class themes, I played Disco Elysium on my aging 2015 gaming laptop instead of some bourgeois, high-powered 2021 desktop. Fortunately, the game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, even with every graphical setting maxed out, such as shadows and anti-aliasing. To run the game, you need a PC with at least an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, DirectX 11 compatible GPU (integrated or dedicated with at least 512MB memory), 2GB of RAM, and 20GB of space.

Although Disco Elysium doesn't have a technically demanding art style, it does have a visually pleasing one. The smeared watercolor brushstrokes reflect the protagonist’s blurry view of his reality and identity. Martinaise is a gray and salty fishing district, but with just enough pops of color, like a hotel lobby or a stranger’s purple jacket, to catch your attention. Music by band British Sea Power enrichens an already thick sense of atmosphere. You’ll love blasting some Sad FM as you hit the waves.

You can buy Disco Elysium on Steam and the Epic Games Store. The game has controller support, but I found mouse and keyboard to be a far smoother way to play. This is basically a point-and-click adventure game, and simply pointing on where to go and what to interact with feels more intuitive than fiddling with cursors using control sticks. The Final Cut update also brings the game to consoles, and I’m curious if the controller situation there is any better. There have been reports of bugs at launch, although I personally didn’t experience any.

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Disco Elysium - The Final Cut (for PC) Review (13) Why You Should Game on a PC

Last Exit to Revachol

I won’t pretend that I’m not the type of person especially primed to adore a game like Disco Elysium. This is an expertly written video game about labor, and I’m a writer who joined the labor movement after starting a career covering video games. But as pretentious as it sounds, not every masterpiece needs to appeal equally to all audiences. This is a cerebral game, one that exists in a hypothetical video game version of the Criterion Channel, with all that entails.

More than the “detective-RPG” it sells itself as, Disco Elysium - The Final Cut is a virtually flawless take on the wildly ambitious, densely layered, and thematically resonant piece of interactive political storytelling it sets out to be. It’s an intelligent, challenging, hilarious, consciousness-expanding Editors’ Choice pick, and another welcome example of the artistic heights that today’s video games achieve.

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Disco Elysium - The Final Cut (for PC)


Editors' Choice

See It$39.99 at Steam

MSRP $39.99


  • Hilariously written, politically charged storyline

  • Intellectually satisfying character customization

  • Deep, richly realized fantasy city

  • Fully voice-acted characters



  • Gameplay elements occasionally hurt the story instead of helping it

The Bottom Line

Disco Elysium’s dense, authored, yet player-driven storytelling uses the bones of RPG gameplay to deliver a truly modern piece of interactive political art.

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Disco Elysium - The Final Cut (for PC) Review (2024)
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