Title: Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on), PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: October 12, 2021
On paper, Disco Elysium‘s newest version, “The Final Cut,” should have been perfect for the Nintendo Switch. It’s not graphically exhausting. It utilizes the same dimensional scale as the exceptional Hades. It’s more focused on storytelling than rapid controller-destroying gameplay. It should be perfect. But at this point, you should know why I’m writing this intro with “should.”
Disco Elysium is a remarkably clever title. It allows you to build your character as if you were setting him up for a tabletop RPG and then, with a series of intro questions, really gives the game an idea of who you want to be for this session.
From there you enter the role of the most down-on-his-luck detective. The only thing going in his favor is the simple fact his heart hasn’t stopped yet and, to him, even that’s somewhat up-in-the-air on whether that’s good or bad.
The entire game itself plays like a tabletop roleplaying game. There’s a dungeon master/narrator and your ability to see things, notice things in a conversation or have an understanding of the lore of the world comes down to dice rolls. The game doesn’t full-on state that you’re doing a perception check but it rolls like a DM that does that all on the sly.
When fighting a giant skin-head, it didn’t come down to my reflexes or ability to dodge, it came down to the game noticing my strength levels, mixing it with options like whether or not I had shoes on to whether or not I was heavily hungover, and telling me to percentile of my success if I chosen to knock the dude out. When I gave the command to attack, a pair of dice rolled and, luckily, I passed.
But that’s how this game works. You live and die by the grace of dice. My first playthrough ended quickly because my character got so annoyed with a child that he just literally lost all morale and, through that, his want to even continue being a cop. Long story short, after much swearing, he quit. Game over.
With all this said and done, Disco Elysium: The Final Cut should be great on the Nintendo Switch, especially on the go as it’s basically a pick-up and play tabletop session.
The problem comes from the sheer amount of things that happen that completely bring the narrative flow to a standstill.
For one thing, the loading in this game is bananas. I timed a moment where my character went out on a balcony. It took 20 seconds for the game to load the balcony. It then took another 20 seconds for my character to come back after I picked up the single item on the balcony. 20 seconds may not seem like a whole lot but just sit still and slowly count to 40. It basically took me a full minute for my character to walk out on a balcony, grab an item and come back. And this is any time you get a loading screen. Walking through a building with multiple rooms becomes something where you honestly debate whether it’s worth it to backtrack just because of the amount of time it takes.
The A.I. is also frustrating. Sometimes it’s hard enough trying to finagle the right joystick to get your character to focus on the item you want. But there are many times, especially indoors, in which you’ll select an item and then watch as your character wonders around for 15 seconds trying to figure out how to get in the exact position the game wants him to be in for the narration and actions to happen. Sometimes if you’re standing too close, your character just won’t even try to interact. If you’re too far, sometimes your character will do a lap or two around the immediate area before remembering what he was supposed to do. The A.I. couldn’t find Waldo if it was looking at Waldo’s drivers license.
Sure, these are minor problems and it’s not particularly game-breaking but these sorts of things can add up. I explored an abandoned facility that feels like if my character wouldn’t have been running around by an A.I. that didn’t know where to put him and bogged down by insane loading screens (especially at one point where I had to run back and forth through four of them to get to and from a particular spot,) it felt like something I could have gotten done 30 minutes prior had the game been working at a better clip.
When you combine that with the fact that the game is over the top dystopian and depressing it takes a lot of wind out of your sales to just be sitting there half the time you’re playing.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut (Nintendo Switch) Score: 6.5
While a terrific game in it’s own right, Disco Elysium: The Final Cut just doesn’t cut it on Nintendo Switch. Lengthy loading times between small rooms and different floors of buildings makes the game drag enough to completely lose the narrative flow, which is a big problem considering narrative is its primary focus. If load times get fixed alongside the poor A.I. that tends to get your character lost while trying to look at something two feet in front of them, you got a great portable game. Until then, it’s all some what of a bummer.