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Nintendo Switch: Road to Redemption

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Well, this is it. One short month until the launch of gaming’s first hybrid, the Nintendo Switch. Opinions of the console vary immensely depending on who you talk to. Some can’t wait and already have it pre-ordered (along with the Master Edition of Zelda). Others struggle to see the value in a $300 console that’s only really touting Breath of the Wild at launch. Still, others ridicule the system and those excited about it, condemning them as “fanboys” who’ll defend anything Nintendo does regardless.

Here’s a fact: a lot of gamers have favorite companies. From software developers to hardware developers, people tend to lean one way or another for a variety of reasons. And when people favor one company, they often compare it to others and find ways to claim superiority. Hence the age-old phrase “PC Master Race” and the current trashing of the Xbox One for not having enough exclusives and the Switch for having a weak launch and a $300 price tag.

Did the Switch have a stellar presentation? No. Is it underpowered? Comparatively, yeah. For a console/handheld hybrid, not so much. Is the day one lineup lacking? Probably (unless you love Bomberman). Is the timing unfortunate? Yes, because launching in the middle of a console generation means having your new console’s price compared to those of consoles released four years ago.

Nintendo has a heck of a lot of convincing to do. Those who had their hopes sky-high are now some of the most cynical, and the negativity surrounding the Switch–at least online–has reached disgusting levels of fervor. What can Nintendo still do now, just over a month away from the launch of the system that’ll define them for the next four-five years? A whole lot, it turns out. The Switch still has a chance at redemption in the eyes of the discouraged, but it’ll have to fight tooth and nail to earn it.

 
 

Expansive e-Shop Day 1

I am Setsuna’s recent addition to the Switch’s launch lineup confirmed that the console’s e-Shop will be live at launch. What isn’t confirmed, however, is what else will be in it. 2D Boy’s trio of previous eShop games has been confirmed (that’s World of GooLittle Inferno and Human Resource Machine), but this announcement was significantly less exciting than that of I am Setsuna and The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ because the majority of the trio are quite old. What we need to see at launch is twofold: newer, more exciting releases like Hyperlight Drifter and Owlboy, and key virtual console titles like Earthbound and–finger crossed–GameCube games. With many decrying the Switch’s weak launch lineup, having a digital library full of enticing downloadables on day one would be a great way to tide gamers over in between major releases.

More Nintendo Directs

That Fire Emblem Direct? More of those, please. Though it might’ve only appealed to a relatively small (yet vocal) demographic, the Direct was exactly what Nintendo needed the week after its presentation: more game announcements. Not only were four new games highlighted overall, but it also specifically gave future Switch owners two new games to look forward to (even if one is far off on the 2018 horizon). Nintendo needs more of these great announcements in the weeks leading up to the Switch’s launch. If Fire Emblem got its own Direct, it’s possible we could see a Pokémon Direct, an ARMS Direct, or even a Dragon Quest Direct. More importantly, Nintendo has to double down on its commitment to a quality, paid online service and have a Direct focused entirely on the benefits of the service, the price, and (most importantly) the app. Confusingly, Nintendo has stated that the app won’t be released until summer of this year, but that online services will launch in March with the console. If that’s true, how will matchmaking, voice chat and lobbies work until summer? These are all things Nintendo can easily clarify with a dedicated Direct.

 

3rd Party Exclusives

Let’s face it: The biggest AAA third party games won’t be arriving on the Switch anytime soon. We won’t see Battlefield 1 or DOOM on the console, and it’ll largely be due to technical limitations and/or doubt from developers and publishers that enough Nintendo fans would buy a non-Nintendo game. However, why couldn’t third parties instead make games specifically for the Switch?

Towards the beginning of January IGN’s Brian Altano declared that Nintendo fans “historically do not buy third party games, and never will.” Amongst the backlash, many fans pointed out that when they do get a multi-platform game, it’s usually a lower-end version of an old game at full price–and they aren’t wrong. AAA multi-platform support generally hasn’t been strong on Nintendo consoles, but that’s because the AAA effort hasn’t been put into many of the ports that land on Nintendo’s hardware. It’s so often that a big budget multi-platform game is developed only with Xbox and PlayStation in mind, leaving Nintendo’s hardware with a shoddy afterthought of a port. No, the Switch doesn’t need these phoned-in makeovers–the Switch needs original third-party content.

Mind you, I’m not necessarily talking exclusives here. More so, I’m thinking of games like No More Heroes that was made with the Wii in mind but was eventually ported to PS3 and Xbox 360. Games built from the ground-up for the system that embraces and optimizes its capabilities. Talented third party developers who’ve employed this philosophy have more often than not produced a critically acclaimed game, a bestseller, or both. The examples abound; Monster Hunter GenerationsRayman Raving RabbidsZack and WikiProfessor LaytonLittle King’s Story, the Ace Attorney series, so on and so forth. Third-party developers truly have a chance on Nintendo hardware, but the quality has to be there. If third party devs work closely to make a game beautifully suited for the Switch, they’ll be embraced by the community just as the creators of the games above have.

Strong Indie Support

One of the Wii U’s few strengths was its courting of indie developers. The list of indie titles on the system runs the gambit, from Guacamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition to Child of Light. These are precisely the kind of quality indie games the Switch needs in the face of such cautious third-party support. Launch year titles like The Binding of Issac: Afterbirth+RimeStardew Valley, and Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove are all great starts, but the Switch would really have legs if it premiered fantastic indie games as well. Yacht Club recently announced that the new Shovel Knight expansion Spector of Torment will actually come to the Switch first, a key example of the kind of support the console needs. Retroactive additions like I am Setsuna‘s Switch-exclusive multiplayer mode are nice, but can always be criticized away for simply being an enhancement of a port. But if the Switch can premiere more games in the vein of Graceful Explosion Machine and even FAST RMX–quality Switch premieres–it’ll fare much better through those months without major releases.

Strong/Cheap Online Service

Nintendo generally disappointed long-time fans and newcomers alike when they announced that they’d be the last of the Big 3 to finally begin charging for online. While at first glance this may seem like a negative, let’s look at the possibilities here. In the past when the Wii, 3DS and Wii U all had sub-par online experiences, it was hard to really complain or take the company to task because, well, it was free. Sony struggled with adequate online play all the way up to the PS4, when they started charging and could then be held to a certain standard (Microsoft) by the consumer.

In moving to a paid online model Nintendo is going all-in with online, which would–theoretically–be wonderful for everyone involved. Nintendo gets some additional revenue and gamers get stronger online play, matchmaking and lobbies (finally!), and a free monthly game download. But wait, the majority of the online functionality goes through an app? And hold on, those monthly downloads are only for NES or SNES games, and they’re only playable for one month??

Issues? Yes. Irredeemable? No. In terms of the app, we still aren’t really sure how it’ll work or why it exists. Maybe it provides extra functionality to the online architecture already on the Switch. Or maybe the app is only for use when undocked, but when docked the Switch handles online on its own. We just don’t know. What we do know, however, is that Nintendo has undoubtedly heard the negative response to the app from the internet at large. If there’s enough negativity around the idea, Nintendo may pull a c.2013 Microsoft and scrap it entirely in favor of native online through an update somewhere down the road. And the NES or SNES monthly rental issue can easily be solved: they include N64 and eventually GameCube games (all with added online functionality), and they charge no more than $30 a year. The online service will be DOA if it arrives anywhere near $60. $30 may still be too pricey for some, but at that price, Nintendo could make the argument that a monthly classic game rental is acceptable as part of a $30 annual service. In other words, they’d be low enough to continue not competing with Sony and Microsoft.

Thorough E3

Everywhere you look, Switch pre-orders are sold out. They sold out the day after the presentation in the West, and they sold out last week in Japan in about 15 minutes. Nintendo has committed to 2 million units in March which, if all pre-orders are honored, would put the Switch’s launch figures right around those of the Xbox One and PS4. However, what’ll really be telling are the third and fourth months of the system–the months the Wii U began to lose steam.

Luckily for Nintendo, E3 falls right into that timeframe. Unluckily, their showing at E3 will likely make or break the system among core gamers. While some may argue that the January presentation already did that, there are many gamers simply on the fence, loving the concept but wary of the software support. It’s in this key area that Nintendo will have to truly shine to push gamers over the edge. I’m talking dream announcements: a new true Metroid Prime title for 2018; Smash Switch with all the Wii U/3DS dlc and more. A Mother 3 release date; an exclusive, massive new entry in the Monster Hunter series. They’ll also need to show us that previously announced games are on their way. We’ll need to see Switch gameplay of Dragon Quest XIXenoblade Chronicles 2 and Super Mario Odyssey. We’ll also need more details on Splatoon 2, new indie partnerships and–again–exactly how the online service will work with the upcoming mobile app. Nintendo has a lot to prove at this year’s E3, be it by traditional conference or Direct. It may be one of their most vital E3s, period.

You have nothing if you don’t have hope. Hardcore fans of Nintendo and their games will be happy regardless of what the months following launch look like (albeit to varying degrees). What’s key is connecting with the gamers who didn’t buy a Wii U or even a 3DS. The Switch has to convince those people that there’s quality, value and, most importantly, fun to be had if they give it a shot. As is the case with many Nintendo games and products, they’ll have to show us better than they can tell us.

Brent became infatuated with manga and anime after randomly stumbling upon Vol. 3 of Yu Yu Hakusho on a childhood roadtrip. Today he has a soft spot for colorful JRPGs, cozy anime, and both games and shows that indulge his innate love of adventure. Find him (im)patiently waiting for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and incredibly fulfilled by Fire Emblem: Three Houses @CreamBasics.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. James Fox

    January 31, 2017 at 1:20 am

    Quite thought provoking indeed
    However, I’m the type of gamer in the wait and see camp
    I don’t game much hence why the Switch is up my alley sorta speak
    I’m sure we’ll get a Direct pretty soon – i suggest patience
    I got that covered as i’m a cartoon and kids TV buff first, I play games to kill time [in a nutshell – as a fun timewaster in terms of me job]
    I’m positive the Switch will be get a fun reception via break time sessions of Super Bomberman R and maybe 1-2-Switch (for shits and giggles)

  2. Captain N

    January 31, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    The system will sell…people are ready to move on from Wii-U & 3DS. Third parties have to cut the nonsense and start backing Nintendo up when it comes to games. Nintendo always has to carry the load since the N64 days….because third parties always find an excuse not to bring their games over. If you want people to buy your games…you have to provide them, and they have to be on par with versions on other systems.

    Nintendo has to continue its marketing, because the Wii-U marketing was atrocious. The Switch is being talked about, which is a good thing. Now it needs some megaton announcements to turn everything in their favor. Nintendo has a chance to hit the mainstream again, but they only have one shot at it within its first year of Switches launch.

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Games

Junked: Coming Back to Life in ‘Detroit: Become Human’

Quantic Dream’s games have always leaned into horror, even if the chief genre might not be. Detroit: Become Human is no exception.

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Detroit Become Human

Quantic Dream‘s games have always leaned into horror, even if the chief genre might be something else entirely. Detroit: Become Human is no exception, with much of the game revolving around our android protagonists finding themselves in one horrendous situation after another. The most terrifying of all, though, is Markus’ trip to a junkyard afterlife.

After being shot in the head during an altercation, Markus looks to be dead. Since player characters could indeed die in previous Quantic Dream games, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for him to have been killed off either. What awaits Markus on the other side of consciousness, however, is one of the most horrific struggles for survival ever waged.

As Markus awakens in a junkyard for discarded androids, he finds himself immobilized and terrified. Played by Jesse Williams (the sort of chiseled hollywood hunk that only seems to exist on network TV), Markus’ destroyed facade is all the more horrendous for the juxtaposition to his previous appearance.

Detroit Become Human

As the player embodies Markus, they are thrust into a nightmare realm of discarded android dreams. Like a metallic graveyard, filled with the shambling dead, the junkyard is a place so nightmarish it nearly defies explanation. Add to this the stress of Markus’ shattered form, and you begin to get a knack for just how unsettling this chapter of Detroit: Become Human truly is.

While not everyone is a fan of Quantic Dream’s trademark QTE-filled gameplay, it is used to maximum effect here, as the player is truly transposed into Markus’ desperate situation by the control scheme. You begin by alternating L1 and R1 to slowly drag Markus’ shattered body across the tumultuous landscape. The long presses and holds of each button help to relay the pain and effort of Markus’ struggle for survival.

It only gets more horrific from there, as Markus must tear off body parts from other fallen androids in order to rebuild himself. The legs must come first, as mobility is key in a place like this, but with the added moral complications of the other androids begging you not to harvest them for parts, the struggle takes on a nasty new dimension.

Detroit Become Human

A particularly stirring, and disturbing, moment sees Markus moving between two closely stacked piles of android remains. Like sidling between two close-together buildings, Markus shuffles his way through, sidelong, as dozens of hands reach out for his help, and the cries of the dying paralyze his senses.

As mentioned above, the control scheme really embodies the horror of what you’re being forced to do in order to survive here. Whether tilting the analog stick to pop out an eye or tapping the X button consecutively to wrench a limb free, the act of becoming a self-made Frankenstein’s monster is not a pleasant process to endure.

The rain-drenched landscape and lonely darkness of the junkyard only add to the chilling horror of this world. Science fiction is often at its best when it shows us a pristine utopia, before turning it over to show us the horrific consequences that come as a result. Here Detroit: Become Human soars, showing us a world where machines can save us from destroying our bodies with manual labor and android doctors never make a mistake.

It’s a world where androids do the dirty work of the US military and undertake the home care of the elderly, freeing us from the sights we’d rather not see. The trade-off, though, is grisly, and the discarded robot graveyard is just one of the first inklings of how ugly this future can be when one looks too closely.

The quasi-messianic character of Markus is only one facet of this troubled world, and while some of Detroit: Become Human may lack in subtlety, it manages to create an effective, evocative look at what could be our own future one day. This sequence is just one striking example.

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Game Reviews

‘Shovel Knight: King of Cards’ and ‘Showdown’ Review: Really Spoiling Us

It’s a Yacht Club Games overdose this holiday, as the Kings of Kickstarter are back with two new entries in the Shovel Knight franchise.

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It’s a Yacht Club Games overdose this holiday season, as the Kings of Kickstarter are back with, not just one, but two new entries in the Shovel Knight franchise. Not content with just releasing another new character’s twist on the original formula, Yacht Club have also developed their own fighting game in the Shovel Knight universe. It’s to the developer’s credit that two simultaneous releases can be of this quality, but valid questions can also be asked as to whether the original formula has gotten stale, and whether Showdown’s new concept does the series justice. Fear not, for both questions will be answered in this bumper, two-for-one review!

Shovel Knight: King of Cards

King of Cards is the latest re-tread of Shovel Knight, and this time the emperor’s new clothes are the regal duds of King Knight, who is on a quest to become the greatest player in the kingdom of the card game Joustus… without really having to beat that many people at it. After the stoically heroic Shovel Knight, the dastardly cunning Plague Knight, and the broodingly enigmatic Spectre Knight, King of Cards’ protagonist embodies an enjoyable dose of pompous entitlement. His quest isn’t all that noble, and he really can’t be bothered to do a lot of hard graft to reach his goal. Thanks to the typically witty script, King Knight shines as a loathsome oik who doesn’t pay attention to any advice he’s given, and would rather have a fight, or cheat, than actually get better at Joustus.

Shovel Knight
This a late-game bout of Joustus, which shows how complex it can get.

Joustus might not really be all that important to King Knight, but it adds an entirely new element to the traditional Shovel Kinght gameplay. Those players who are a sucker for a built-in card games (myself included) will find a lot to enjoy when stepping away from all the platforming and fighting to engage in a round of Joustus. The game is played by placing cards, one at a time, onto a grid with the goal of having more of your cards placed on top of gems than your opponent.

All cards contain abilities and can be used to shove opposing cards out of the way (and off the gems), with advanced cards used to blow up, slam or recruit those of the other player. It all starts off simple enough, but can get really brain-taxing as the story progresses, and grows to be a real highlight of the game – and one of the better card-games-within-a-game I’ve played. Cheat cards can be bought to give you a leg up for trickier opponents, especially as the winner of each game gets to take one (or three if you control all gems at the end of the round) card from the loser.  

Shovel Knight
Platforming at its satisfying best. Y’know, without actually touching the platforms.

Outside of Joustus, King of Cards will feel pleasingly familiar to fans of the series. As in previous entries, the levels all share the same look and gimmicks as the original Shovel Knight, but are reshaped to adapt to the new abilities of King Knight. He has a shoulder barge attack that launches him forward, across gaps if need be, and will send him into a spin on contact with enemies or certain types of walls and blocks. This spin move acts very much in the same way as Shovel Knight’s shovel pogo attack, and allows King Knight to bounce around levels with impressive finesse. Anyone who’s played Shovel Knight before knows the drill now – try and clear every screen by chaining together as many bounce attacks as you can. It’s the law.

Shovel Knight
Familiar foes return, but the way you deal with them is the same!

It also wouldn’t be a Shovel Knight game if there weren’t a ton of unlockable moves and buffs. Amongst the best unlocks for King Knight are a Tazmanian Devil-esque tornado spin that allows him to climb walls and smash up enemies, a hammer that produce hearts with each wallop for precious HP, throwable suicide bomber mice, and the ability to stand still and have a big ol’ cry to regain HP. Something we can all relate to.

The world map returns, and is in its best guise in King of Cards. Levels are now a lot shorter than you’d expect – there’s typically only one checkpoint in the non-boss levels – but there are a lot more of them, and a large number have secret exits to find. They’re interspersed with the multiple opportunities to play Joustus, and with the seemingly random appearances of traditional Shovel Knight bosses who show up, Hammer Bros. style, on the map to block your progress. It makes for a really tight campaign that’s filled with a ton of variety.

The floor is literally lava!

It seems almost arbitrary to say, but if you like Shovel Knight and you’re not tired of the standard gameplay, there’s so much to enjoy with King of Cards. He’s probably not the most fun character to play as (for me, that’d be Spectre Knight), but his game is easily the most diverse. He’s just such an enjoyably unlikeable idiot that you’ll constantly be playing with a smile on your face, bopping along to the classic Shovel Knight chiptunes, pogoing around levels and pausing for the occasional game of cards. Who could ask for more?

Shovel Knight Showdown

Who likes Shovel Knight boss fights? Everyone does, right? How about fighting three of them at once in an amalgamation of Smash Bros. and Towerfall? It’s as chaotic as you’re imagining, and seems like a total no-brainer as a second genre for Yacht Club to transpose their blue, spade-loving hero into.

What seemed like an obviously smart move doesn’t necessarily play out in an ideal way. The one-on-one fights in Showdown are as tightly-contested and entertaining as ever, but the multi-man rumbles are absolute mayhem. There are a few different stipulations applied to fights, and these typically involve simply whittling down your opponents’ lives, or depleting their health bar to briefly kill them off and steal any gems they’ve collected from around the level, with the winner being the first to an assigned number.

Shovel Knight
I found it best to just try to escape in every multi-man level.

Standard fights are more enjoyable, as the simplicity of smacking seven shades of snot out of the competitors keeps things manageable amongst the cacophony of onscreen visual noise. The gem-collecting levels, especially with multiple opponents, are frankly a bit of a mess that I rarely found enjoyable.

Perhaps I’m just not very good at Shovel Knight boss fights, but the game felt overly difficult even on the normal setting. Playing story mode often sees your chosen character up against three opponents on the same team, and when it comes to collecting gems from around the level, they’ve got way more of the space covered and you barely get a chance to breathe with them swarming you from the word go. It’s basically an exercise in getting wailed on while you try to run away and scramble for gems, and it’s just not that fun.

If the whole game were 1v1 I’d have more fun, but it’d be a bit pointless and unsubstantial.

What does add a layer of fun to the game is the chance to play as the complete ‘Knight’ roster of Shovel Knight characters, and the best part of Showdown is learning new moves and trying to find your ‘main’. Perhaps, with more time to sit down and learn the move sets in the practice mode, the game would feel more rewarding than if you just jump in and try to slog through the chaotic story mode like I did.

With a four-player battle mode as the only other gameplay option, Showdown was clearly never meant to be anything other than a brief little curio to give fans of the series’ boss fights an overdose of what they love, but as a complete experience I found it lacking in both modes and reasons to keep plugging away at the arcade fighter-style story mode. It turns out that the boss fights in Shovel Knight are more fun at the end of a platforming level rather than in the middle of enclosed space filled with flashing lights, random effects, environmental hazards, and three bastards all chasing you down. If you can handle all that stress, you’ll have a much better time than I did.

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Game Reviews

‘Disco Elysium’: A Thought-Provoking Mystery

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Disco Elysium Review

For the most part, the majority of games are easy to classify, but from time to time a game is released that defies conventional rules and resists simple categorization. Disco Elysium is just such a game. On the surface of it, it’s a topdown, isometric RPG of the oldest of old schools. It draws upon long-established systems, structures, and mechanics that make it comfortably familiar. However, beneath that patina of tradition lies something completely unexpected and utterly unique.

Developed by the small, independent studio ZA/UM, with a story penned by Estonian novelist, Robert Kurvitz, and a painstakingly detailed world crafted by artist Aleksander Rostov, Disco Elysium stands apart from most RPGs in that it is startlingly realistic whilst simultaneously being grimly fantastical. Set on an isolated archipelago in the wake of a failed communist revolution, the game casts players as a detective sent to solve the murder of a man found hanging in the backyard of a rundown boarding house/cafe. It’s a simple setup made all the more complex by the fact that the player character is suffering from a severe bout of alcohol and drug-induced amnesia. The mystery that needs to be solved concerns piecing together exactly who the player character is, as much as it involves reconstructing the chain of events that resulted in a brutal death.

Arriving at conclusions to both conundrums requires navigating complex webs of social and political intrigue. Along the way, players will encounter union bosses, disgruntled workers, war veterans, and all manner of extraordinary and mundane citizens just trying to go about their daily lives in a place that seems designed to thwart their ambitions at every turn. More than that though, players will be required to engage in continuous internal dialogues that involve the protagonist gradually putting themselves back together. The result is character customization in a quite literal sense of the word. Rather than the standard array of physical options that most games of this type present players with, the options are entirely psychological. Player actions and choices determine the overall structure of the internal workings of their character. Whether they decide to be a high-minded idealist trying to better themselves and the world around them in whatever way they can or opt to descend into anarchic, hedonistic self-obliteration such choices determine exactly who and what their version of the character is.

The foundation of stats and skills that are usually inert background components that all RPGs are based on is firmly in place. However, rather than being a numerical bedrock upon which all gameplay is based, Disco Elysium takes those sets of modifiers and statistics and makes them an active part of character progression and world development. As you progress through the game, skills points can be used for a variety of purposes. They can be used to upgrade core character stats, of which there a total of twenty-four covering a whole range of mental, physical, and social attributes, that govern player’s ability to immediately interact with the game world. However, they can also be used to learn or forget particular thoughts These thoughts develop depending on how players decide to approach situations and solve problems and can unlock semi-permanent bonuses and even penalties.

Disco Elysium Review

Much as in reality, the things the character is capable of are largely dependent on their frame of mind. If players opt to make a character that is brash and uncouth then they will find it difficult to subtly manipulate interactions to their benefit or arrive at unobtrusive solutions to various situations. On the other hand, if they elect to play a character that is more thoughtful and introspective, or cunning rather than crass, then they will find it difficult to emerge unscathed from more physical challenges. It’s an interpretation of character development and player progress that feels much more organic than in any other game of this sort. This is probably where Disco Elysium does the most to stand out from other such titles. Such a flexible approach to progress is hopefully something that other companies will emulate going forward, as it allows the character to develop a true personality that goes a step beyond the mathematically-oriented, incremental statistical increases that are usually the norm.

Disco Elysium Review

The ways in which player action, character interaction, and game reaction combine together is probably the closest it is possible to get to a truly curated dungeon master-guided play experience in an RPG. There is such a wide and unpredictable variety of moment-to-moment options that players can never be certain what exactly is going to happen next. This sense of improvisational unpredictability is a quintessential element of any RPG, but it is often lost in translation from tabletop rules to computer game mechanics. This pitfall is avoided thanks to the fact that the world of Disco Elysium was conceptualized as a tabletop game but doesn’t actually exist as one yet. As such the developers were able to implement systems without the expectation of adhering to pre-existing mechanics. This expectation has often been the downfall of many such games in the past, such as the much-maligned Sword Coast Legends which was lambasted for its apparent butchery of the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons ruleset. It will be interesting to see if Larian Studios can avoid similar problems with Baldur’s Gate 3.

Disco Elysium Review

As intriguing and unconventional as Disco Elysium is, and no matter how deserving it is of the accolades it won at 2019’s Game Awards, it’s hard to recommend it as something to play if you’re looking for fun. It’s relentlessly grim even when it’s trying to be funny, and its stream of consciousness style makes even the most basic of interactions a minefield of potential disturbing possibilities. With its biting combination of continental existentialist ennui, pseudo-Lovecraftian undercurrents, and socio-political critique it isn’t a game that you play for the sheer joy of it, but rather for the esoteric and unusual experience that it offers. That being said, in a market that’s full to bursting point with crowd-pleasing blockbusters and oftentimes strictly by-the-book sequels or carbon copy titles, it can be incredibly rewarding to delve into a game as intricate and nuanced as Disco Elysium.

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