Disco Elysium: The Final Cut

Game review by Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 18+

Story-driven tale loaded with mature themes, gray messages.

Parents say

age 17+

Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+

Based on 2 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Community Reviews

age 17+

A great game for older teens who do not have complex mental health problems or extremist tendencies.

TL;DR: This game is NOT suitable for younger teenagers or children. It is unlikely to be suitable for those experiencing an episode of severe mental illness, especially if this includes derealisation or depersonalisation. While it deals with politics in a way which can be enlightening, it is a blunt instrument and is not appropriate for young people who have shown an interest in political extremism, especially the alt-right. The Game: In Disco Elysium, you play a man who wakes up without his memory following a breakdown and a likely alcohol and drug overdose, only to be informed by strangers that he is a detective investigating a lynching in an extremely deprived post-war neighbourhood. Uniquely, much of the dialogue is internal, with the character choosing to examine his thoughts in a way that ultimately informs who he is. I'll attempt to not spoil *too much* of the game here, but I'm going to break this down into sections because there are so many challenging aspects to it. Messaging: Disco Elysium deals mainly with political themes and the impact of war and poverty on ordinary people. Many situations are morally gray, and you are forced to ignore many smaller issues to deal with the murder you are investigating. Players are guided by Kim and the plot itself to reject racism and political extremes, with a slight left-wing skew that nonetheless condemns violence in the name of communism, as well as violence in the name of suppressing it. Players encounter fascism and eugenics early on in the game, and are urged to reject them through the use of logic and rhetoric. The game gives the clear message that addiction and mental illness are made worse by a person's experience and situation, and explores this both through the main character, and through other characters, who have experienced abuse, warfare, are refugees being hunted down, or union members willing to ignore the corruption of the union boss. Role Models: In this game, you play the bad role model suffering from the consequences of just how bad of a role model he has been. There are however other characters who could be seen as role models in the game, in particular, your partner, Kim, who is the moral compass and foil for your character. Kim is a "moralist", the political centre of the game, and moderate in most ways. He encourages the player to do the "right" thing, avoid drugs and alcohol, racism, corruption, being inappropriate, and descending into a spiral of mental illness. Kim is gay and mixed raced as a foil to the many bigoted characters, and native to the city the game is set in. He is not depicted as totally flawless or straightlaced, however, and will make deals when forced for the greater good, and also smokes "one cigarette per day" - it is implied that he does this to look cool, though he discourages you from doing the same. Ease of Play The game is point-and-click with narration and text for all dialogue. All "difficult" aspects take the form of skill checks, based on your level in a given skill added to a random dice roller. This can be frustrating but is not generally challenging. Conceptually the game may be very challenging for some players, requiring at least some knowledge of the political systems it is meant to explore. It would be possible for someone without much knowledge to mistake the game's intent as being fascist or racist, when it intends to attack these ideologies. Mental Health Mental illness is a recurrent theme, often as the result of a person's circumstances and experiences. (SPOILERS:) You find out that your character had a suicidal breakdown and threatened to kill himself with his gun before driving his car off a bridge. You can choose to pursue more or less mentally healthy thought processes, which impact your "moral" in the game. If your moral is reduced to 0, you lose your grip on reality and have a breakdown, ending the game. With no memories of others, you are socially isolated until you build a relationship with Kim, your partner, and are constantly threatened with thoughts that no one loves or cares about you. Unless you are abusive to him, Kim tries to spare you from these thoughts and discourages destructive behaviour. Your belief that no one cares about you is hinted to be false by the game, as some badly disguised colleagues show up to check on you, who you cannot recal. They are depicted as frustrated and suffering from the fallout of your addiction and eratic behaviour. One mechanic in the game is "thoughts", which you must think about for a given period of time before you internalise them and gain benefits and/or penalties for doing so. These range from the idea that you are clearly a superstar (you aren't), to spending 8 hours thinking about your own sexuality in order to stop obsessing over it, to thinking you must be the last communist in the world. Some of these thoughts have negative impacts on your abilities and present you with dialogue options which could be seen as depressing, judgemental, bigoted, or hopeless. If someone who was experiencing severe suicidal ideation or depersonalisation were to play this game, it is possible that they could enter an-in character downwards spiral which would confirm their unhealthy mindset. Violence There are limited options to commit violence in the game, as you have lost your gun and your partner rarely offers you his. Even if you regain your gun, you can only find 2 bullets in the game. However, violence and its effects on people and society are very strong themes in the game. The setting of the game is a neighbourhood that was bombed and then invaded by foreign powers seeking to crush a communist rebellion. Bullet holes line the walls of many buildings, and you have an in-depth scene investigating the decades old execution of unknown victims by an unknown firing squad. Various other war crimes are recounted. A man is hanging by the neck from a tree outside the hostel you wake up in. A boy throws rocks at the corpse. You can shoot a girl who is verbally abusing you, killing her. If you do this, your partner immediately arrests you for murder, ending the game. You can punch a boy verbally abusing you in the face. You can attempt to fight a racist man who will not allow you to pass him. There is a shoot-out in the game, which is depicted as a traumatic event. A woman uses a new-age weapon against you, possibly killing you. You can perform two "field autopsies" in the game, one of which is watched by local children and includes looking at the genitals and last meal of a week-old corpse (not depicted but briefly described). Sex SPOILER: In the game, a man is shot while having sex, which is verbally recounted in moderate detail. You can attempt to seduce people in the game but it does not lead to sex or a relationship. You obsess about your own sexuality until you unlock a "thought" called Homo-sexual Underground. This reveals your partner's sexuality and stops the various questioning scenarios whenever you meet an attractive woman or man. Sexual Violence: SPOILERS: A rape is alleged in the game, and strongly condemned by characters in the game. However, the player character has the opportunity to be more or less supportive of the victim - if you appear confrontational or unsupportive, other characters will get angry. A recording of a man appearing to threaten rape in a way that is distinctly violent and alludes to war crimes is played, but it is revealed that this was "just banter". Again, other characters are disgusted by this and condemn it, but the player is left to make up their own opinion. Through your investigation, you may conclude that a murder in the game was sexually motivated. Themes of abuse Themes of abuse are frequent throughout the game. In addition to the rape, a boy describes his father as frighteningly violent (if the player, optionally, punches him in the face), and when you investigate you conclude he is the victim of domestic violence. The boy and a girl shout that you are there to physically and sexually abuse them or kill them. For their age (or indeed any age), they have experienced far too much and choose to watch you perform a field autopsy on the lynched man. A location in the game is described as a place where drunk fathers beat their sons. It is alleged (by the player character and his partner) that a rich bureaucrat may be sexually exploiting a young man whose apartment he pays for. A young girl is prevented from attending most of her education by her mother so that she can work outside in the snow all day for no pay. The player can confront the mother on the ethics of this. Racism, misogyny, homophobia etc. There are frequent and severe instances of all forms of discrimination in the game. Your character is usually free to condemn, ignore, or support these, or sometimes to commit them. Occassionally, if you fail a mental check, you may be left with only one, compulsory dialogue option that is blatantly discriminatory (for example, you can fail a check when arguing with your partner and call him a racial slur, causing conflict in your relationship). In the game, racial slurs are replaced with fictional slurs, though their impact is comparable to real-life. Multiple characters in the game express racist, fascist and eugenecist views, which your partner condemns (and is sometimes the victim of), but which your character can respond to as they like. Race is suggested as a motivation for the lynching in the game, and a man talks about the measurements of your skull and your "haplotype", or genetic ancestry. You can choose to "subscribe to his racial views" to get him to do what you want, or challenge him. Homophobic slurs are censored in the game, but frequently used; children shout that you and your partner are F-slurs. There are several gay characters in the game, which you can respond to as you wish, but (SPOILERS) your partner may reveal he is gay, and condemns or ignores homophobic abuse and attitudes. It is possible in the game to acquire a jacket with the word "P*SSF****T" written on it by "confiscating" it from some teenagers (with the word F**** censored, visually and audibly), though the motivation behind it seems more abstract than homophobic. A lesbian character is liked and supported by a group of other characters. Misogyny The world the game is set in parallels our own, with a history of repression against women which is slowly diminishing. Your character has vague memories of a woman from his past which develop into an unhealthy obsession if you continue thinking of her. Your character can embrace or turn away from "toxic masculinity", by challenging thoughts about women being wh***s or allowing them to continue. Some other characters have clearly misogynistic views, although this is less common than racist and homophobic ones. Swearing Frequent and severe. No real-world racial slurs are used in the game. Children in the game swear at you and your partner, including fictional racial slur and homophobic slurs. These children are depicted as victims of abuse and neglect to be pitied. Children whose parents are less/not abusive do not tend to swear at you. Consumerism Almost all goods in the game are second hand or bought from the back of a lorry. The area it is set in is very deprived. The only new goods to be bought are books and boardgames, medications, drugs, and dice from an artisan dicemaker. Real-world brands are not depicted and there are no microtransactions. Drugs, alcohol, smoking Frequent and severe. Your character is an alcoholic and possibly a drug addict, and it is clear as you play (and commented by your partner and others around you) that it has ruined both your life and your health. You do not need to drink, smoke or do drugs while playing, but they are frequently available. Doing drugs, alcohol, or smoking each have benefits in the form of stat boosts, but damage your health. Abusing drugs and alcohol too frequently can lead you to being too unstable to complete the game, or even to your character's death. Other characters are depicted on drugs, including the aforementioned abused children. An optional quest is to steal drugs from an abused boy's father, who is passed out drunk. Safety and Privacy You don't share any information with the game. It is a single-player game.

This title has:

Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Game Details

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