Disco Elysium: The Final Cut Review — Return to Revachol
Disco Elysium took us by surprise when it launched in 2019. Once a PC exclusive, this text-heavy isometric RPG took us to the streets of Revachol, the former capital of the world divided under foreign occupation.
Developed by ZA/UM, we gave that version a 10/10 for "its interesting, entertaining, and hilarious game world with fully realized factions and characters, unique art style, and overall mood," and much more.
Now Disco Elysium is back with The Final Cut, an expanded edition on the PS4, PS5, Stadia, and PC (where players can claim it as a free upgrade).
The Final Cut marks the first time Disco Elysium’s come to consoles, with Switch and Xbox editions arriving later this summer. It makes for a fantastic improvement on the base game, offering some significant upgrades that add to the narrative, only let down by a few performance issues on PS5.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut Review — Return to Revachol
If you played Disco Elysium before, you know what to expect here, as The Final Cut retains the same gameplay and story as the original. If you aren’t familiar with the game, it's a straightforward premise. Seven days ago, a body was found hanging from a tree behind a hotel in Revachol’s Martinaise district, and the main character's been sent to investigate.
Problem is, this detective is a serious alcoholic, and after a wild night of drinking, he wakes up an amnesiac in a completely trashed hotel room. Fighting with his own consciousness to get up, he slowly discovers he's a cop, though he's misplaced key items like his gun and badge. Joined by Lieutenant Kim Kitsuragi, it’s down to this pair to discover what happened.
Before diving in, players must choose what kind of detective they'd like to be, either working from one of three preset character sheets or creating their own from scratch. This all helps form what the game calls the detective’s “ancient reptilian brain."
Character sheets are divided into four pillars — Intellect, Psyche, Physique, and Motorics — letting you allocate points towards each, all of which contain special skills. For example, if you’d rather play a Sherlock-Holmes-type detective, Intellect is a must, which offers skills like “Encyclopaedia” that provides a better idea of the world around you.
Should you prefer the tough guy approach, Physique is your way forward, offering skills that augment endurance, your pain threshold, or your ability to intimidate witnesses (since there is no "real" combat in Disco Elysium).
As you investigate, successful actions are determined by a dice roll. Depending on your build (and luck), how you allocated points determines success probability, though failed rolls don’t prevent the story from continuing.
So what’s changed in The Final Cut, and how does it impact the experience?
Voice acting is by far the largest update. Nearly 300 characters across Revachol are now fully voiced, which is a massive undertaking when you consider the script to contain around 1.2 million words. That includes a standout performance by Jazz musician Lenval Brown, who voices the detective’s innermost thoughts and brings a pleasantly authoritative voice that adds gravity to your decisions.
If you prefer the original non-VO style, that option remains available, but this addition adds immense personality to an already wonderful cast. As a result, The Final Cut has a greater narrative impact than the original; an impressive achievement, considering it is arguably Disco Elysium's strongest aspect.
The Final Cut’s other significant addition is the inclusion of the previously-scrapped “political vision” quests tied to four prevailing (and wildly conflicting) political ideologies: Communism, Fascism, Moralism, and Ultraliberalism. As you play, you'll gradually develop a political alignment, letting you internalize the main character's political standing. It's a system that offers more insight into an already nihilistic, war-ravaged world.
And though these political vision quests don’t have any major impacts on the story, they offer a satisfying resolution to these ideological themes, giving a sense of closure to certain aspects of the game that was previously lacking.
Elsewhere, The Final Cut’s additions aren’t as significant but provide several quality-of-life updates, including the inclusion of 4K. PC players now have controller support, several new animations and characters are included, new dialogue choices have been added, extra languages are now supported, and two new songs by British Sea Power appear.
Sadly, the PS5 version has several technical issues I encountered during this review, which weren’t fixed in Patch 1.1. Interactions feel a bit clunky, and the game doesn’t always recognize when you’ve selected an object to investigate or a person to talk to. There are also infrequent framerate drops, and sometimes, items just didn’t load.
Patch 1.2 promises to fix these issues, and though they're relatively minor, they did impact the overall experience.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut Review — The Bottom Line
- Still the same superb RPG from 2019, just with extra bells and whistles
- Fantastic voice acting
- Beautiful visual style
- Highly replayable
- Minor technical problems on consoles
- Doesn’t expand too much upon the original
Regardless of what route you take or which rolls you fail, Disco Elysium: The Final Cut is an utterly compelling RPG worth looking into, either again or for this first time. The lack of combat might seem strange, but it never feels worse for the omission, channeling the same energy as Planescape: Torment.
What lies within is a dark, politically driven, and utterly hilarious story, one that never punishes you for failure. By offering The Final Cut as a free upgrade for PC players, too, anyone who previously visited Revachol has nothing to lose by making a second trip, and this is a game that actively encourages replayability.
Though I'm (currently) let down by a few minor issues on consoles, Disco Elysium is just as essential in 2021 as it was in 2019. I’m pleased to see it finally reaching a wider audience, and it comes strongly recommended.
[Note: ZA/UM provided the copy of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut used for this review.]