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Video Game / Disco Elysium

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Disco Elysium (earlier known as No Truce with the Furies) is an Urban Fantasy Role-Playing Game developed by ZA/UM, taking inspiration from detective fiction. It was released on October 15, 2019.

The game follows a disgraced detective lieutenant in Revachol West attempting to rebuild his reputation a town rife with corruption that is essentially threatening to explode. Tracking down a massive and open-ended case, the player is given multiple ways to approach and solve it.

As the set-up may convey, the game has less emphasis on combat and more on dialogue and interactions to find clues. The game's skill-tree also stands out, being mostly about the intellectual side of things. Your feelings, reactions, memories, and clues are vital to interrogate and get closer to a conclusion. Rather than an explicitly focus around conflict (there's not even a combat system to speak of), the game instead has a variety of skill checks to pass anything from finding minute details to beating someone up.


This game provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: While Kim is usually quite serious there are occasions where your antics break through and he'll smile or play along. Notably when saying "I think he's dead" in regards to a corpse of a man that's been hanging in a tree rotting for seven days; Lt. Kitsuragi is inclined to agree.
  • Addled Addict: Possibly. The Electrochemistry skill is all about understanding drugs, taking them, knowing about drug culture, being cool (along with Savoir-Faire and Composure), and having sex. At high levels it also makes it very hard to resist any of the above.
  • Addiction-Powered: Drugs are powerful, increasing your stats (and thus all the attached skills) by +1 for their duration — at a cost of an immediate -1 Health every time you partake. The Electrochemistry skill focuses on seeking out said buffs and making the most of them. However, this leads to substance abuse, meaning it can do more harm than good in long term beyond even its immediate short-term Health cost.
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  • The Alcoholic: The Player Character, self-declared if you so choose — with bloodshot eyes and shiny puffy skin, waking up with a monstrous hangover.
  • Alternate Techline: The most obvious example is that computers here are run by radio waves and their "disks" are crystalline cubes, although reel-to-reel tapes are used for audio recording. A prototype tape-using computer becomes plot-relevant.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: You can attempt to rediscover your past, if you so choose. Much of what you uncover is unpleasant; some of what you think you might remember might not be true. A possible end-game sidequest is investigating whether you and the team you don't remember were actually a hit squad in league with the Jamrock gang known as La Puta Madre (the Mother of Whores).
  • Amnesiac Hero: The protagonist has no idea who he is or why he's in an utterly trashed hotel room in the beginning of the game. You wake up with amnesia so bad, not only can you not remember your name or profession, the concept of money temporarily eludes you. Drugs and alcohol were involved.
  • Animal Motifs: There are a number of places on the map where, if your Perception is high enough, you'll hear a swallow chirping, or flying by overhead. Programmer Soona dubs the 2mm hole in the world 'the swallow', because it swallows sound and radio signals.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Time stops moving forward at 2AM. While most characters have gone to sleep at that time and it's too dark to collect tare, certain characters and quests do remain available, allowing you to stay up late and catch up if the previous day was too hectic. The pawn shop, cafeteria manager Garte, the three homeless men, and the kids and squatters at the church (after Day 3) are all available 24 hours a day.
  • Artificial Stupidity: While the Developers' Foresight is generally good at keeping track of a lot of things, it has a couple of blind spots - for example, if you drink alcohol in the game exactly once, past midnight, in your room, while Kim is in his own room, he will somehow end up knowing it. A couple of dialogue lines will also give away they really don't expect you to do much with Kim not being around - one example being Emma, whose greeting line refers to you as "officers" even if you're alone.
  • Badass Mustache: The protagonist sports an impressive one along with disco mutton chops, and he can certainly kick ass if the player so desires.
  • Battlecry: You get to choose yours: "Disco Elyisum!" or "Disco Infernum!" among others, such as the racist ultranationalist slogan "Welcome to Revachol."
  • Bat Deduction: Any correct deduction made using Inland Empire comes across as this to outsiders, but you can also make some tenuous connections on loose evidence. For instance, you can tie one character correctly to a piece of evidence because it contains racism, they made a bigoted remark, and "that's not something a good person would say". They confess immediately.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Late in the game, you need to get inside a building, one of the possible ways in being climbing an incredibly dangerous ladder - some bars are missing, even the base of the ladder is three meters of the ground, and it could just collapse if you try climbing it. It's dangerous enough Kim wants nothing to do with it. One of the solutions you can come up with to this problem is teleporting, and by teleporting, your savoir-faire skill really means climbing the ten-or-so meters of ladder in a few seconds with your eyes closed as it's the most natural thing in the world - and yes, it works.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: This is a bit of an odd example, but your Skills are actually a form of these. While most of the time their insight is positive, it becomes clear that they may also mislead you- and that you shouldn't always listen to them. The reason why is that the Skills are manifestations of your emotions, and said emotions can be knee-jerk reactions to the situation at hand, and can harm you as a result. For example, the Authority skill has you try to retain your honor and prestige around people, but it can also lead to you doing dangerous and hurtful actions against people who undermine your authority, including people who do it by accident. The best example of this is having your Authority motivate you into putting a loaded gun into your mouth to prove yourself, which is dangerously suicidal.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Much like with drugs, simply drinking alcohol can add +1-2 points to your Physique — but at the cost of -1 Morale.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Your partner, Kim Kitsuragi, is very fleshed out, frequently chimes in during conversations, and while he generally follows your lead, preferring to disappear into the background, he will take over from the main character if he feels strongly that you are hindering the investigation. Whether you become True Companions or only stick it out for the sake of the case is once again down to the player and their choices.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Being viewed as anything other than this is something of an uphill battle, but the Inland Empire skill is particularly likely to turn you into this. You receive various opaque hints, but can never be sure to what extent they're true insights or merely your own hyperactive imagination. This results in you behaving in a rather eccentric way, such as talking to objects. Inland Empire also tries to bend you away from learning about yourself, which means figuring out your identity and learning from your past is more difficult if you listen to it. To a lesser extent, any skill can also cause you to act erratically or obsessively, whether lying simply to be dramatic or obsessing over art or cryptids. You can also opt in to bizarre beliefs outside of any of the skills, such as declaring yourself the Cop of the Apocalypse, openly acknowledging you are an incredibly corrupt "bad addict cop", or denying all signs to the contrary and proclaiming yourself a handsome, glamorous superstar cop. Kim will push past most of it, though even he can be pushed too far.
    • Even before the events of the game, this is what you were - learning about your past reveal you were a very competent cop, with eighteen years of service, over 200 cases solved, and a very low bodycount -only three kills confirmed, but still a complete drunkard who worked by bouts of productivity, and regularly bordering on outright insanity.
  • But Thou Must!!: While the game is fantastically open-ended, certain things will happen only a certain way. In one particularly tense encounter, you can shoot the Current Commander of the PCM. But even if you choose to shoot him or not, he will still manage to shoot the Detective down.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Kim Kitsuragi, your partner, has been described as your 'voice of professionalism.' As such, he can be seen as this. The Boring Cop archetype largely comes from ignoring the game's wackier dialogue choices and trying to play things as realistically straight as you can. Kim isn't a complete stiff, however, and while he won't necessarily change his own methods, he can come to appreciate some of your more eccentric decisions if they end up helping you make headway into the case.
  • Cassandra Truth: A meta one - If you pass a skill check while talking to the corpse, the corpse will "talk" to you and reveal communism killed him - It's painfully accurate, but you don't piece the actual meaning of this sentence until you actually corner the killer and listen to his motive.
  • Central Theme: Everything is connected, and the strangest detours end up tying back into the case in the most unlikely ways.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Thanks to your amnesia and the influence of your various skills on your outward personality, it's very easy to come across as rather bizarre and out of it, particularly to your proudly normal, stoic partner Kim. It's actually fairly difficult to act normal, looking the way you do and coming out of your recent bad behavior in Martinaise.
  • Cool Old Lady:
    • Depending on how you feel about her, Wild Pines rep Joyce Messier — she's a (relatively) Honest Corporate Executive who's one of the few people involved who's trying to stop violence from breaking out, a champion sailboat racer, and broadly educated on a wide swath of topics, making it likely she'll act as your mentor on the history and geography of the strange new world you find yourself in. She can also pay for the damage in your hotel and will NOT make it an attempt at corruption, meaning she's likely to save your ass early in the game.
    • Lena, The Cryptozoologist's Wife is pretty much the most pleasant person in the entire city, will give you her pin to pawn when you need money, and will happily spend her time telling you about cryptids.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: A potential effect of having a high pain threshold. Not only will you shrug off the damage taken, but your character will like it. As such, having a high threshold can make you a pretty unhealthy person.
  • Comedic Understatement: While talking to Joyce you can categorize the deaths of over two million people as 'a kerfuffle'.
  • Companion Cube: Although multiple inanimate objects talk to you, the one that sticks out the most is your Horrific Necktie. The description treats it as an old friend, and it acts like one through the game, often urging you to stand up for yourself (sometimes at inopportune moments), expressing camaraderie, and sometimes having useful advice. It can even pull a Heroic Sacrifice as part of an improvised Molotov cocktail.
  • Consummate Professional: Kim Kitsuragi prides himself on being a diligent, disciplined, impartial officer of the law. Expect him to react to your antics with exasperation.
  • Cowboy: Deconstructed even as it's romanticized. The roaming heart of the classic Mesque boiadero cannot be tied down, so one cowboy love ballad you're told about ends with the man strangling his love before Riding into the Sunset.
  • Cowboy Cop:
    • Your character looks the part, and the Superstar and Apocalypse copotypes encourage you to go renegade in different ways. You can be a drug-snorting addict, a vicious thug, or as corrupt as you want to be. On the other hand, you can also become a by-the-book Boring Cop or even a Sorry Cop, apologizing for the obvious mess you've made of your life and trying to be a better person, no longer the alcoholic, self-destructing deconstructed Cowboy Cop you seemingly start out as.
    • Parodied in-universe: when you start thinking that you might share the devil-may-care, cool attitude of the boiadero, this universe's version of the cowboy, your Encyclopedia skill shuts you down hard if it's high enough.
  • Crazy Homeless People: Storyteller Idiot Doom Spiral and company in the fishing village west of down. Not unlike the protagonist, Spiral lost his whole life — wife, business, the keys to his apartment — over the course of a single day. Unlike you, however, Spiral simply gave up after the fact, sinking contentedly into homelessness. The other men living in the same concrete cylinders have practically no dialogue other than the saner of the three selling you speed and pilsner you can use to keep Doom Spiral talking, while the third, Don't Call Abigail, literally can't seem to say anything other than begging everyone not to call Abigail, whoever that is. Also potentially you, if you internalize the Hobocop thought.
  • Culture Chop Suey: Done deliberately: Kim Kitsuragi's Seolite heritage, as his name suggests, is a mixture of Japan and Korea. Revachol is superficially French, from the names to its Revolution, but its clash of ideologies and postwar ruins resemble many a former Soviet Bloc country once the Iron Curtain fell. Oranje seems to be a combination of Scandinavia and the Netherlands by way of the modern United States, with its Mega Corps and Private Military Contractors. Mesque is Mexico; Graad is Pan-Slavic.
  • Delayed Reaction: This is what happens when you discover your wrecked car. Even the intellectual cop, usually very quick on the uptake on that kind of things, capable of identifying the same model of car just by it's engine noise at the start of the game, will delude himself into thinking this is an unrelated accident and spending over half an hour with kim contemplating the car waiting for the water to recede. Kim will even point out he's very surprised you haven't figured it out already and ends up telling you the facts, which can prompt a Big "NO!" from you in reaction and at the very least quite the shock.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A few of the options. Kim also gets in the occasional line of bone-dry sarcasm, especially if you choose to act out, talk to corpses, or otherwise seemingly lose your mind.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Numerous Police Procedural tropes are mocked, played with, and taken apart. Just about every cop archetype gets some deconstructive action in the story, and regardless what you play you'll have a ton of serious flaws. The emotionally sensitive Cooper-typecop is also someone with serious emotional instability, and your constant hallucinatory insights can often be completely meaningless. The shoot-first-ask-questions-later Cowboy Cop is also someone who tramples over evidence and completely ignores real detective work, resulting in missing a ton of emotional and logical insight. And the analytical By-the-Book Cop will ultimately ignore context clues (causing them to misinterpret evidence) and be useless in a conflict where bending the rules matters.
    • The story investigates the idea of being a detective in the first place. Revachol is a terrible place to live, and its history of being a conquered state and being currently under occupation causes some serious issues in regards to what you're actually accomplishing. Does being a detective and solving some potentially meaningless crime actually make the world a better place? In addition, the victim was killed because of communism, the political ideology that caused Revachol to be invaded in the first place, which seems to imply that violent unrest will be a perpetual reality for Revachol as long as they are continued to be trampled over by oppressive governments.
  • Defective Detective: You start the game with a laundry list of psychological issues, not the least of them being amnesia following a three-day bender in which you lost your badge, gun, uniform, and car, destroyed your hotel room, alienated the staff, failed to meet your assigned partner, and didn't even remove the body from the crime scene. Depending on how you play, you can try to get better — or just get worse, and the myriad ways of destroying yourself are entirely up to the player.
  • Dirty Cop: You may suspect you were this, and it's entirely possible to openly take bribes and turn a blind eye to various crimes in Martinaise.
  • Disco Dan: The main character, dressed in snakeskin boots and tight flared pants, with a handlebar mustache and sideburns. Disco here is less about the music (though you are, or were, apparently a fan) than a state of mind.
  • Eldritch Location: The Doomed Commercial Area might be one, but it is left open to you to decide how much stock you put into it.
    • The entire world is one. You might learn what the world actually looks like during some conversations, and it's not a spherical planet like Earth. It's a series of island scattered in a sea of nothingness called The Pale. Spending too much time crossing The Pale has nasty secondaries effects on your mental health, and to cap it off - it's expanding, overtaking the pockets of world.
    • The abandoned church's own Eldritch properties are a direct result of The Pale - there's a two-centimeter large hole in reality in it, which is in-formation Pale. For now, it only swallows sound and occasionally information in three-meter radius, but it is growing, and will one day consume the entire island.
  • Emotional Powers: Most of your skills are considered this, which is why they all have logical downsides to being over-leveled as well as under-leveled. "Shivers," your danger-sense (and your "sense of the city") can lead to blatant paranoia and anxiety when amped up. "Inland Empire," your imagination, more or less, can lead to you being surrounded by hallucinations. Even the supposedly-emotionless skills will involve emotion when sufficiently invoked; Logical reasoning will leave you susceptible to intellectual flattery due to your pride in your intellect, and people with very good hand-eye coordination (and thus good fighting skills) will be too quick to jump to violence as a solution.
  • Fantastic Drug: Downplayed. The drugs generally aren't exceptionally bizarre, but they are otherworldly and don't exist on earth: the nasal painkiller nosaphed is the basic Health healing item, for example, while magnesium, rather than being a mineral occasionally used to treat heartburn or constipation, here has apparent mood-altering, energy-boosting effects and is used to heal your Morale.
  • Fantastic Racism: Not really present in the actual story, which features more mundane racism against human ethnicities, but in-universe one race in a failed role-playing game displays this in spades.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Various flavours of Culture Chop Suey, with every nation being made up of multiple real-world countries, past and present.
  • Fat Bastard: Union boss Evrart Claire is enormously fat and hugely corrupt, a Smug Snake who's eager to show he's got a cop on the payroll, whether or not it's actually true. His identical twin brother is slightly more mobile, better-traveled, and more educated.
  • Femme Fatale: Deconstructed with Klaasje, Miss Oranje Disco Dancer, in that her manipulation and lies are her attempts to stay alive and out of the crosshairs of the Oranje/Moralintern-aligned Mega-Corp she betrayed — after having second thoughts over exposing the company's high-level corruption after it resulted in the suicide of a mid-level accountant. Also, despite "partying" (sex and drugs) with multiple partners over the course of several months, this isn't treated as evil unto itself and turns out to be completely unrelated to the case — she's hasn't been with Titus or the boys in some weeks, made it clear it was only a passing fling, and they seem to have been motivated to help her by a combination of loyalty and propriety rather than sex. She also had genuine feelings for Lely, didn't kill him and doesn't know who did, but gradually does piece together a portion of the mystery, including tracing the path of the bullet that killed him to the island off the coast of Martinaise.
  • Game Master: The game has more than 24 of them, most of them a skill on your character sheet.
  • Genius Ditz: Put a lot of points into Intellect skills and choose the most immature dialogue options and you're an incredibly competent detective with huge troves of trivial knowledge that happens to act like a complete idiot. Add high Inland Empire and Shivers you're Sherlock Holmes if he talked to his tie and thought he could teleport.
  • Gray and Gray Morality: Corrupt union versus a Dirty Cop Defective Detective versus a corporate-sponsored mercenary team. The closest thing to a good guy in the whole setting is your partner.
  • Great Offscreen War: Revachol's Revolution, fifty years ago, impacts absolutely everything about the setting.
  • Hit Points: Two separate meters, Health and Morale, with the number of points based directly on your Endurance and Volition skills, respectively, which can make you a One-Hit-Point Wonder if you start the game with only 1 point in Physique or Psyche.
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: The players mustache-and-mutton chops combined with their Disco Dan fashion sense and three-day epic bender all give the impression of a maverick Cowboy Cop — but it's actually possible to subvert this by acting as straitlaced and boring or grovellingly apologetic as possible.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Plaisance, the bookstore owner, practices occult rituals meant to banish and contain curses and spiritual entities. She also believes that the local stand-in for Dungeons & Dragons is occult magic and therefore bad.
  • Informed Attribute: The game describes Cuno as almost resembling a gremlin, whereas his portrait shows him as rather plain looking, not appearing much worse than the other portraits.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: An unusual example, perhaps due to the game's focus. In addition to a more standard inventory system, the game also gives you a Thought Cabinet, meaning you'll have to literally wade through your own thoughts to reach a variety of conclusions. Thoughts are 'researched' over the course of in-game hours, providing various bonuses as you mull them over and then a different set of bonuses upon completion. Space is limited, however, and there are 50 possible thoughts in-game, so by the end of which you may find yourself forgetting earlier thoughts (at the cost of a skill point) to make room for new ones.
  • Invisible to Normals: In the ending, you discover that the Insulindian phasmid secretes a pheromone which causes people to forget it's there — but it only works over time, which means that children and teenagers do occasionally spot it. Adults, of course, never believe them.
  • I Am Who?: You're an amnesiac who has visions which may or may not be real. It's also possible to convince yourself that you are some kind of superstar action detective like the ones in books, or the herald of the apocalypse, or the reincarnation of communist demagogue Kras Mazov. How true any of these things are is another matter.
  • Isometric Projection: All the footage shows that the game uses 3D models against a 2D background. Thanks to how stylized the game is, this blends rather well.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: You, if you so choose. Also territorial Good Ol' Boy Titus, ringleader of the Hardie Boys, who turns out to be the Union's equivalent of a local sheriff, and believe it or not, drug-dealing local hellion Cuno, up to a point, who took in a damaged "psycho" (his words) little girl who couldn't remember her own name (hence why he just calls her Cunoesse or "C"), and of whom he's fiercely protective. It's possible to make peace with both of the latter, but only with considerable effort.
    • Garte, the cafeteria manager, starts off very antagonistic to you, what with all the things you've done during your three-day bender, but can mellow out to you if you can show you're willing to set things straight, by paying for the damages, paying for your room in time, finding a replacement to the stuffed bird you broke - culminating in him cleaning your room and letting you spend two nights in it for free after you get injured from the shootout that happened in front of the Whirglig.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Red-haired gremlin-boy Cuno is a loudmouthed twelve-year-old delinquent who you can find hurling rocks at the corpse you're there to examine, a free-range child with a grandiose self-opinion who sells drugs (and takes them) and is only too happy to try and pump himself up by screwing up your investigation.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During a dream sequence, it's revealed that both your bickering skill tree and the game's numerous dialogue trees are actually signs of your insanity
  • Logical Weakness: All of your skills are double-edged swords — the higher they are, the more they shape your thoughts and control you. What begins as advice can eventually become a compulsion, restricting what dialogue options you can choose in certain circumstances or just becoming overbearingly loud compared to the other skills.
  • Man in White: The mercenaries briefly seen in the trailer dress in futuristic silvery-white ceramic armor. In-game that moment is the Tribunal, where the mercs exact bloody vengeance for the hanged man's death. Collecting all four pieces of the same armour for yourself is a potential in-game quest and one of the game's tougher achievements.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The Inland Empire and Shivers skills might give the protagonist psychic abilities... or might just be symptoms of a severe psychological condition which simply happen to lead him in the right direction from time to time.
    • The bookseller is convinced that her building is part of a "Doomed Commercial Area," which curses all ventures within it to failure, and a subsequent investigation suggests that it may extend to the Whirling-In-Rags, just down the block, as well. The same investigation, though, also reveals that all of the affected businesses were either horribly mismanaged, ill-conceived to begin with, or both - it's entirely possible they just ended up failing because running a successful business, particularly an ambitious one, is difficult.
  • Meaningful Name: Dolores is Latin for "sorrows"; in other words, Dolores Dei translates to, essentially, Sadness of God.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Skill checks get bonuses and penalties based on your actions, but sometimes it's hard to determine what objective gives a bonus to a particular check, because they have no obvious connection. That said, it is somewhat justified by the fact that you are at least somewhat crazy, and the game does helpfully inform you after you have gotten bonuses for certain checks.
  • Multiple Endings: Per traditional cRPG standards, the game ends depending on the choices you made. The major aspect is whether or not you solve the case and how.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: The downside to having too much Encyclopedic Knowledge is that your brain will interrupt you with trivia about the world you live in constantly, which may be distracting or even disorienting.
  • New Weird: The game takes place in a mostly-modern (The '70s' idea of modern) but distinctly fantastic world that definitely isn't our earth, with its own history, on a planet where various continent-sized insulas, each made up of separate oceans, islands, and nations, are divided by growing regions of pale, patches of nonexistence which can only be traversed by specially-designed airships. Animals and plants are not all as we know them, and technology is both ahead of and behind where we were at roughly the same point culturally — though despite resembling a post-Cold War version of the '70s in the wake of a brutal Civil War in which a communist uprising was put down by an outside invasion by the loose equivalent of the UN, civilization is said to be over eight thousand years old. While much of the game takes place firmly in Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane territory, there is a distinct undercurrent of mysticism to your dreams, including an odd connection to Dolores Dei, a messianic figure who apparently had glowing lungs and waged a war to unite the world under her church. Then, near the end of the game, there's the giant, possibly sentient stick insect you discover...
  • No Name Given: Most of the game is spent not knowing your own name, although there are a few possible paths to finding out. It's Detective yefreitor Harrier "Harry" Du Bois.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Kim likes to act rather aloof and professional, but he's not above cracking a joke or bluffing a suspect, and he likes cool cars more than he's technically allowed to show on the job. He also listens to hard, brash punk music, of the sort usually listened to by speedfreaks and gangbangers — he tries to play it off as someone else fiddling with his radio settings, but if pressed, finally admits that it helps keep him focused at night. He falls short of saying he might actually like it.
    • Cuno, as he frequently reminds you, 'doesn't give a fuck' with Cunoesse being even more sociopathic- shoot down the body and succeed on subsequent parts of the autopsy they start acting like excited- if deeply disturbing- little kids- succeed on the getting the bullet out and they're thrilled.
  • Not So Stoic: Kim is absolutely thrilled when you manage to shoot the body of the hanged man out of the tree on the first try, giving you an 'Aces High' (high-five) and then a round-the-back/on-the-flipside Aces Low if you chose to offer one.
  • Only Sane Man: The Volition skill is by far the most level-headed of the lot, and if sufficiently developed it will often jump in to contradict or second-guess the other skills' more questionable advice. During the interrogation with Klaasje, passing a certain Volition check will have it almost desperately try to talk some sense into your other skills, who have all hopelessly fallen for her cover story. Even as it starts to seem the skill might just be paranoid and wrong too, wanting to press on even as she seem to have finally spilled the beans, later investigation will eventually reveal Klaasje did lied a bit more to you and that Volition really was Properly Paranoid.
  • "Open!" Says Me:
    • As seen in the title trailer, at one point the protagonist attempt to bust open a door (in the backroom of the bookstore) by ramming it with his shoulder, only to fail and clutch it while wincing in pain.
    • It takes a reality-defying, near-impossible Rhetoric check, but the player can also literally talk a locked cargo container into opening itself. Because there's someone hiding out inside, but you really had no reason to believe that at the time.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: The husband of a woman you meet in the hostel at the beginning of the game is a cryptozoologist, and she shares his passion for his subject. He has yet to discover a true cryptid, but has ventured out into the wilds near Martinaise to search for the Insulidian phasmid, a carnivorous, parthogenetic stick insect supposedly endemic to the region but never definitely spotted by any reputable source.
  • Out-Gambitted: A sufficiently clever protagonist can realize that Evrart Claire's plans for a community center to "revitalize" the fishing village are actually designed to create such a nuisance during construction that it becomes unlivable and he can buy the land for cheap. In response, he and Kim can forge one of the signatures Claire requested, making the agreement legally worthless and wasting Claire's time and resources... something he'll only find out after he's aided the investigation.
  • Point of No Return: Make sure you've wrapped up anything you want to before meeting with Ruby; while the game continues, you lose access to many locations and people, and from then on you're on a strict time limit.
  • Purgatory and Limbo: Several characters mention that Martinaise is "in limbo" during your stay, and the dreamlike state of your own addled mind makes this seem like a real possibility. Your visions of messianic Joan Of Archetype pope-figure Dolores Dei don't help.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: The pale, strange enormous patches of anti-reality that separate the continents and covers most of the planet. While just being in the pale may not immediately kill you, the longer you stay and deeper you go, the more the laws of physics stop working, such distance, time, and math. The only way civilization has found to reliably navigate them is to plot a precise course with as little exposure as possible and shoot straight through as fast as they can with specially designed airships.
  • Red Herring:
    • The victim's clothing wasn't disposed of by the killer, it was put there by a racist local after the corpse was looted because he didn't care about a foreigner's dignity.
  • Religious Horror: There's an unsettling undercurrent of it running through all things related to the above-mentioned Dolores Dei and her church. The lore even notes that being subtly terrifying was part of her mystique. Also, those constant longings you have to "win her back"? Turns out you're projecting quite a lot of Dolores into your ex-wife, to the point your last sequence involve meeting her and desperately trying to mend things with the ex-wife, who's looking like Dolores.
  • Retro Universe: Revachol mixes 1970s aesthetics and technology (plus a few technologies that never were) with an early 19th-century French aesthetic. For instance, the police wear highwayman-style cloaks instead of raincoats on patrol, Kim's sports car looks more like a stagecoach, and the streetlights are styled after hurricane lamps.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: The Boring Cop copotype has you actively working to embody a completely ordinary, even dull, Consummate Professional police detective. The description for its associated thought, Regular Law Official, notes that this can't come naturally for someone with your colourful past and current looks.
  • Schmuck Bait: It's hard to know when it's just your Thoughts' opinion on what you should do or when it's really in your best interest — but on occasions when they're particularly argumentative or when a Thought you wouldn't expect is chiming in with advice not to do something, it usually ends badly for you if you go ahead anyway. Played more straight when you have high Volition, since it acts as the Only Sane Man - disregarding its advice is almost always blatantly harmful.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sigil Spam: One symbol you'll see repeatedly in graffiti is the white, inverted pentacle-and-antlers. It represents communism in this universe.
  • Significant Haircut: The game does not tell you what its significance is, but once the old washerwoman loans you the shack in the fishing village, it's possible to shave off your mustache and mutton chops. It's easy to read it as a deliberate break with the past. Some like it better, others not so much.
  • Smug Smiler: The Expression, as it's called in-game. The player detective always has a big shit-eating grin on his face, and there's nothing you can do about it even if you recognize it as inappropriate or far from what you're actually feeling — short of succeeding at a very difficult Electrochemistry check to somehow make yourself stop. It comes with its own Origin Story, which similarly requires a difficult Encyclopedia check to remember. Much like shaving your facial hair, the game doesn't tell you how to feel about it, so it's left to the player to assign their own significance to it.
  • The Storyteller: Idiot Doom Spiral (real name George), a tech billionaire turned hobo, can tell you a number of stories, from his own fall from grace to the legend of the Headless FALN Rider, for the price of a beer.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: The game's loading text actively encourages you to act like the bonkers, snarky Defective Detective to Kim's Consummate Professional.
  • Straight Gay: If you talk to the Smoker On the Balcony enough you can start internalizing thoughts about whether or not you're part of the "*homo-sexual underground*" — ultimately it leads to your brain telling you to stop obsessing about yours (or other people's) sexuality. You can, however, still ask Kim if he's ALSO part of the "*homo-sexual underground*". He saves you the trouble of spending another 20 hours thinking about it by saying yes without further comment.
  • Stranger Behind the Mask: With a host of suspects and all the pieces coming together and the case getting bigger and more complicated, the murderer turns out to be a character we've never met before the last ten minutes of the game — just a deserter who lived through the last moments of the war thanks to an act of cowardice, a Stalker with a Crush who shot the man as much to punish Klaasje as because he was a tool of the bourgeoisie. On the other hand, Lely's death was only ever important for what the union and mercenaries made of it: an excuse to go to war, and the deserter does turn out to be connected to the Claire brothers (manipulating him into killing other supposed enemies of the left) as well as the cryptid whose memory-altering pheromones serve as an odd parallel to the growing entropogenic influence of the pale.
  • Take Your Time: While the game looks like there's a time counter, you can actually have some leeway for the encounters in the game. Of course this is subverted in a later encounter, specifically, after meeting Ruby, the Tribunal encounter triggers and all bets are off.
  • Talking to Themself: Activating your skills includes talking with them in your Thought Cabinet or during other conversations, and they're each given a distinct personality, from the overzealous high school coach of Physical Instrument to the actor/jester of Drama. You are also in frequent contact with your Ancient Reptilian Brain (your basal ganglia) and Limbic System (the paleo-mammalian cortex), who narrate your dreams each night.
  • Take That!: Several moments, items and characters deconstruct or mock modern 21st Century Society:
    • When looking at the paranormal books in the bookstore, the alternative medicine books are said to serve platitudes and accuse modern medicine as causing cancer despite a lack of evidence.
  • Talk to Everyone: Subverted and parodied several times, such as when you come across an ordinary working-class woman and can decide that she must need a detective's help, because her husband must be missing. She informs you he's not, nor are her children, nor her cockatoo (which she doesn't even own). Double Subverted later, when you discover a dead man on the boardwalk and it turns out to be her husband.
  • Title Drop: An abandoned church can be converted into a nightclub and named "Disco Elysium" or the game's original title "No Truce With The Furies".
  • Urban Fantasy: A Retro Universe somewhat like 1970s Earth but with its own distinct culture and aesthetics, with radio-based computers and cops who wield muzzle-loading handguns and drive supercharged stagecoaches. The most glaringly fantastic thing are the patches of absolute nothingness known as the pale, dividing the world into isolas (Italian for islands) that, up until quite recently, didn't know the others even existed, and requires specialized airships equipped with space-bending technology to reach the other side. The pale also has a powerful effect on the human memory and can eventually leave people insane or catatonic — and it's growing.
  • Urban Legends: The legend of the Headless FALN Rider, a headless man in a tracksuit alleged to have ridden on a horse, a bull, or the back of another headless man. You can buy an action figure of him in the pawn shop. According to RCM records, he's believed to have actually been a businessman who killed his ex-girlfriend after she got involved with another woman.
  • Vice City: Revachol West is filled to the brim with corruption going out of control, murders never being solved, and kids wanting to dance.
  • Vomiting Cop: You will upon first finding the body unless you pass a very difficult test. Unlike most examples it's not because you're a rookie, but because the corpse has been decomposing for a week. Kim barely manages to hold on.
  • Warts and All: The player character is a legend in in the RCM, and also a hopeless alcoholic, addict and potentially sex pest. Kim first meets him after the player character has been through a three-day bender that obliterated his memory. In the better endings Kim admits that he's completely insane but the best detective he's ever seen.
  • Wham Episode: If the case isn't solved or the PMC taken care of, an armed standoff in the streets will kill most of the characters who haven't left town.
  • Wham Line: When investigating the note found in the hidden compartment in your clipboard, you get a message from your Shivers skill. Shivers almost always just provides atmospheric details, rarely gives you suggestions, and never gives you commands:
    Shivers: LET GO.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: A trashed hostel room, stripped to your socks and underpants, with a killer hangover and complete blackout amnesia. It isn't until you stagger out into the hall that you find out you're a detective from a fellow guest.


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