A lovely thing about sifting through heaps of text at your own pace is you get to luxuriate on the details and flourishes that catch your personal fancy. A drawback is that sometimes such fixation comes at the expense of pertinent detail. For example, in my previous runs of Disco Elysium, I think I may have gotten distracted by talk of tightrope walkers and hand grenades, and completely glossed over a line telling me that the game takes place in spring.
That’s no longer an issue thanks to Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, a free update that adds voice acting to the game’s dialogue.
“There are a few casualties of recasting, namely Cuno.”
This means that this time Lena, the Cryptozoologist’s wife, has a new set of pipes; a Southern US accent, balm-like in its soothing kindness and its welcome arrival between the dismissive nasal sniping of Cafeteria Manager Garte and the slimy cockney dream tendrils of The Hanged Man. I can see why protagonist H.D.B would cling to every word, like little lifebuoys bobbing along in an ocean of rust-coloured dehydration wee. I was too. An amnesia confession precedes the reveal that it’s the Revacholian spring of ‘51. “I’m sure there are better days ahead”, says Lena. This cast those opening hours in a whole new light for me.
I’m not even sure if I’d previously factored the weather in, aside from noticing it was either snowing or glum and just filed it into one of the only three flavours of weather my Welsh brain can conceptualise, being dreary toss, sweltering toss, or mildly tolerable as long as it doesn’t change a tossing degree either way. Late Winter, maybe? There are dates, scattered about, but there are also a lot of other details. But it is spring, Lena tells me. A cold, snowy spring fighting to emerge from a long chill as mounds of grey, cold sludge are scraped from the concrete and H.D.B’s psyche both.
I think I love the game even more now. You aren’t just emerging from a sweaty shame palace of stained sheets and staggering downstairs, dodging accusatory glances that scream that you were a right family pack of prick wafers last night. No. You’re absolutely emerging from a cocoon. You’re a beautiful beer-gutted butterfly, CYOAing your way through a tattooist’s flipbook of wing patternings. Redemption and rebirth await! Or, if that’s not your thing, it’s at least marginally warm enough to enjoy cold beer marginally more.
I’m barely two game-days in so far, but it’s been a treat to get a tour through a more fully concrete version of ZA/UM’s vision for The Goodest Disco Elysium, and to hear fresh actors bravely curl their mouths around such intimidating oodles of luxury dialogue. There are – and I hate describing what, near-stalgia accepting, would be perfectly good performances like this – a few casualties of recasting, namely Cuno. Still, consider me freshly, gratefully cognisant of the bittersweet promises of springtime in Martinaise. I’ll have a fully stocked thought cabinet for you sometime next week.