The new voices in Disco Elysium

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The delightfully unusual detective role-playing game Disco Elysium is finally on console. The Final Cut version of the game arrived yesterday on PlayStation machines (4 and 5), the App Store, Stadia and PC (a free update if you already own the base game), and there’s an Xbox version due to follow this summer.

I’ve been playing it on PlayStation 5, and generally it works well. I haven’t noticed the frame-rate issues I’ve seen reported elsewhere, so presumably they really have been fixed. But I have come across the object interaction bug, which sometimes doesn’t register your interactions, or doesn’t quite trigger them. Pressing the button again usually rectifies the issue, so it’s sometimes annoying but rarely more. Loading times seem fine on PS5, though I wonder what they’re like on PS4, and I haven’t seen any other bugs, though I’m only early in the game (code arrived late).

But the most notable new addition is full voice acting. Disco Elysium is a wordy game and only patches of it were voiced originally, meaning most of the time you were reading a text box on the right-hand side of the screen. And though the words were (and are) delightful – Disco Elysium has an outrageous sense of humour, and a lovely way of voicing thoughts that really ought to stay in your head – the sheer amount of them could be wearying. This also made the game somewhat quiet and still, as it waited for you to read and catch up. But the addition of audible voices has a powerful effect on this.

Disco Elysium running on my PS5.

discoelysium_ps5_1discoelysium_ps5_2You can see some of the console interface here.

Disco Elysium now feels more like an actual tabletop role-playing experience. A kind of narrator describes scenes audibly to you, making it feel as though you’re in a live gaming session with a GM. This also frees you up to concentrate less on the words, which is a blessing now you’re probably sitting further away from them. And it means people in your house can be pulled into the experience too, should you want them to be – I don’t recommend letting your children spectate!

It’s also very welcome hearing the characters who you speak to. Their newly found voices give new life to the game, and they add a sense of clarity to the different characters you meet. The voices are generally good, too, with a nice range of accents and voice types. The only slight jarring element is when there isn’t a voiced line, for some reason, and when your player character speaks, or rather doesn’t speak, because you are not voiced.

So while full voice acting may seem like a token addition on paper, in practice it has a big effect.

There are other additions in the new Final Cut version of the game, including unseen areas and quality of life improvements, and added replayability, but I either haven’t noticed them or haven’t seen them yet.

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