critical play: mystery

Game: Disco Elysium

The game is developed by ZA/UM and released in the year 2019. Platforms available to play the game include Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. I played it on the macOS platform.

This game uses both interactive loops and arcs.

Disco Elysium uses a skill system based around dice rolls, introducing an element of randomness and chance into the game.

In terms of interactive arcs, the overarching central narrative of the game is a narrative arc about the protagonist’s quest to solve the mystery of a strange┬ámurder in the city of Revachol, a sprawling and dilapidated metropolis on the brink of collapse. As the game progresses, the player character slowly uncovers the truth behind the crime and its political implications. The player, playing as the game’s protagonist, gradually pieces together the various threads of the story and uncovers the truth behind the murder, progressing the narrative arc.

There are other parallel arcs present in the story, such as the protagonist’s personal character development arc. Alongside the murder investigation, the player’s character is also grappling with their own internal struggles and insecurities, with the game’s narrative and dialogues reflecting this. Additionally, there are social arcs present in the game. The player character is able to interact with the various NPCs in the game, navigating the complex web of relationships and politics in Revachol.

Interactive loops are used in the game in terms of player skills and abilities. The protagonist gets started with a limited number of points and abilities that control the actions and conversation options that the player can take. The range of skills and abilities can be leveled up over time, requiring the player to engage in specific actions to improve their proficiency. Some of the skills include questioning witnesses, examining crime scenes, and analyzing evidence.

Some character dialogues in the game.

In terms of the narrative architecture of the game, it primarily uses evoked and enacted narratives. It features a highly evoked narrative, with a meticulously crafted and pre-determined story that unfolds through dialogue and cutscenes.

The game also makes use of enacted narrative in its narrative architecture, as it emphasizes player agency and choices, allowing players to shape the story through their decisions and actions. The choices made by the player character significantly impact the narrative progression, relationships with other NPCs, and the outcome of the story.



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