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Disco Elysium: The Final Cut Early Impressions

Welcome back, detective.

by Brandon Adams

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A common piece of advice for writers is to “kill your darlings,” yet developers ZA/UM have opted to let theirs strut about in Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, and the already outstanding game is all the better for it. I’ve been playing the updated version of the game on PC over the weekend, and though I have yet to see and experience all the new writing that’s been added it’s been a joyous reunion regardless.

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut – How to make a landmark title even better.

Disco Elysium is easily one of my favorite games of all time (as you can read in my initial review), and the Final Cut doubles down on everything I loved about the game back when it launched towards the tail end of 2019. There’s over 150,000 words of additional writing, extra characters, more story to chew into, and nearly every line of dialogue is now fully voiced.

That last bit will be the most apparent to returning players booting up Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, which is a free upgrade to those of us who already own the original version on PC. The narration, the thoughts inside your amnesiac detective’s head: all of it is now voiced. If there’s fault I can find with the new VO is that the narration and skills are all voiced by one actor, but damn does he do a fine job.

Sure, I would have liked each thought within the detective’s circus of a mind to have been a touch more personalized, but when you consider there’s a chorus of twenty different “voices” in his head, the single voice actor makes sense. Harry’s subconscious thoughts are a hot, liquor-soaked mess, and one singular voice-actor helps tie them altogether as part of a greater, broken whole.

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I said nearly every line of dialogue is now fully voiced, since interludes between dialogue are not. When a character pauses or does something in the middle of their dialogue that portion isn’t voiced, which is a little odd considering how important those little details are. Overall this is a small complaint considering the herculean task of voicing Disco Elysium’s already expansive script.

I have yet to run into some of the newer story bits, such as the Political Vision Quests tied to the four major political leanings in the game, but I still can’t help but feel like the existing dialogue and writing has been spruced up a bit. Perhaps it’s my own memory being hazy – I postponed a repeat playthrough last year once I heard the Disco Elysium: The Final Cut was a thing – yet I feel like there’s a little more to chew on even outside the additional storytelling.

150,000 extra words is an incredible amount of extra writing, however, especially in a game that was already quite verbose. I savored every little piece of it nearly a year-and-a-half ago, and I have little doubt I will adore what’s been added. I’m simply taking my time to get there. Disco Elysium is a game you want to soak in, and The Final Cut offers even more somber, goofy, profound storytelling to absorb.

Less sexy, but no less impactful, are the systemic changes brought forth in Disco Elysium: The Final Cut. The improved frame-rate is immediately noticeable, though in a narrative-focused game like Disco Elysium it’s hardly a requirement to reach 144+ frames. That said, the stability of the frame-rate is much appreciated, considering the original game could slow down and stutter a bit here and there.

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Fast Travel is a contentious addition, but one’s that’s appreciated no less. Again, Disco Elysium: The Final Cut should be enjoyed slowly; should be experienced instead of played. Having to run all over the crumbling corpse of Martinaise is a part of the game’s charm, since the ruinous burb of Revachol is packed with wonderful little details and interactions. But, sometimes you want to get on with it. I personally haven’t used it much, but I won’t go out and say it breaks Disco Elysium: The Final Cut’s flow.

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut even includes more clothing to acquire, which may sound absurd to those who haven’t played the game. See, skill checks are a pretty big deal in Disco Elysium, and your stats determine your odds of success. Part of the game’s appeal is how it handles failure, but it’s great to see extra bits and bobs of cloth around to help me lean into my personal roleplay and ace more skill-checks I couldn’t overcome previously.

I still have plenty more Disco Elysium: The Final Cut ahead of me. My first playthrough took 50 hours to complete, and I feel there’s another 15 or so hours of new content to dig into (and I’m being conservative). I’ll post a final review after I wrap this playthrough of the Final Cut up, but like the first iteration of Disco Elysium I’m just gonna groove along. There’s no killing these darlings, baby.

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut is available now on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Stadia.

- This article was updated on:March 31st, 2021

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