Disco Elysium – The Final Cut is a revamped version of the 2019 cult classic CRPG released by studio and publisher ZA/UM.
In his review of the original, our own Preston Dozsa gave it a 9/10, praising its menu-driven RPG gameplay, deep-character building and the unprecedented freedom it gives players.
Much of Preston’s review is true to my experience of playing Disco Elysium – The Final Cut as besides additions such as a fully voiced cast and a new area, among others, there is nothing truly transformative here. In other words, Disco Elysium – The Final Cut remains fundamentally the same game.This being said, PC players can rejoice at the fact that The Final Cut is a free update for every owner of the original game.
The release of Disco Elysium – The Final Cut is however more important for primarily console players, since it is only now that one of the best CRPGs in recent memory has made its way outside of the PC/Mac space. Unfortunately, for players not on PlayStation, like myself, the Xbox and Switch ports will take a little longer as they are set to release sometime this summer.
Knowing full well, then, that Disco Elysium was designed with the computer in mind, I approached the PS5 version somewhat expecting it to be the less ideal way of playing this game. And, after my time with Disco Elysium – The Final Cut on PS5, my expectations have proved true: this is indeed a less-ideal way of playing this game. Nevertheless, this is not to mean that Disco Elysium – The Final Cut is a bad game or even that this is necessarily a bad experience. In fact, although this lacklustre port did dampen my overall time with the game, it was not enough to entirely rob one of the best CRPGs I have ever played of its strengths.
To start with, a significant portion of my time with Disco Elysium – The Final Cut on PS5 has been marred with various technical issues. The most frustrating and persistent of these issues has to do with using a controller to play what has been designed with a mouse and keyboard in mind. And whereas, yes, playing with a controller is arguably more comfortable than being hunched over a keyboard and a mouse, as far as this port is concerned, this convenience is not worth the drawbacks as I often found myself fighting the controls. For example, taking control of the player character, protagonist and one step away from a full mental breakdown police detective Harrier (or Harry) Du Bois, when he is equipped with a flashlight and in a dark environment proved neigh impossible with the DualSense, as its right stick, which is meant to simulate the movement of a mouse, was clunky at best and simply unfunctional at the worst of times.
Similarly, both in-game and menu navigation at large, including the quick travel option (which is a very welcome addition The Final Cut brings to the table), are needlessly difficult with the D-Pad. Fortunately for Disco Elysium, since it is an isometric RPG, there is never a point in the game which requires twitch-fast reactions so the controls could never really let me down. Obviously, all of these problems are alleviated by using a mouse and keyboard but that option is not made available when playing on console. A good solution to this problem, yet one that is undoubtedly difficult, would be to work on mouse and keyboard functionality on consoles – in the same way The Final Cut has added controller support to the PC version.
“This is not where the problems of this port begin and end.“
Sadly, though, this is not where the problems of this port begin and end. At the time of writing, Patch 1.5 on most platforms, including PS5, and Patch 1.5.2 on PS4 have the game in a stable state, but it must be said that at release and shortly after, the game was riddled with bugs and issues ranging from minor ones like voice lines not triggering at the right time to more major ones which impeded some players from being able to finish important quests. During my playtime, I have personally not encountered anything more significant than the game crashing on me exactly once and some minor visual glitches here and there. However, as is always the case with technical issues like these, your mileage may vary. I have also not tested the game on PS4, which seems to be where the bulk of the issues are, or on PC which is most likely the most stable version of the game. As such, my experience of Disco Elysium – The Final Cut is meant to be indicative of the PS5 port only.
Now, these issues with the PS5 port would have been, at least to an extent, ameliorated if Disco Elysium – The Final Cut actually took advantage of what makes the platform and its controller special. Instead, beyond the fact that the game is playable in 4K60, which is certainly nice to have but also achievable by a medium to high-end PC, there is nothing remarkable to make this port stand out. The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers that have impressed in games such as Astro’s Playroom and Returnal are not at all taken advantage of and furthermore, for how impressive the PS5’s SSD has proven so far, Disco Elysium – The Final Cut is chock-full of loading screens which last inexplicably long. And whereas this might not seem that significant at first, in-between the 20 to 30 hours that it takes the average player to finish the game, the frustration with having to load from every small area to the other slowly rises up.
“What The Final Cut adds to the original game is generally good”
Beyond the experience of the PS5 port, what The Final Cut adds to the original game is generally good – but not without fault. For example, the biggest change is that the game’s entire cast of about 300 characters are all voiced now. And whereas, on one hand, giving a voice to 300 characters is incredibly ambitious and the performances of Lenval Brown as the Narrator and the voice of Harry’s thoughts and psyche and Julian Champenois who reprises his role as Lt. Kim Kitsuragi are nothing short of show-stopping, on the other hand, the voice acting sometimes over-burdens an already text-heavy game.
In other words, having the game be fully voiced is a really pleasant touch, yet I still personally find that there is too much dialogue occasionally – certainly enough to sometimes get in the way of the game’s pacing. Fortunately, there are options to more or less tailor the voiceover, which I do recommend playing around with, but these are not as robust and as customisable as I would have liked. In the same vein, The Final Cut has recast some characters and although I have not played the original version of Disco Elysium, I certainly would have preferred for ZA/UM to have allowed for players to experience the game with the initial cast if they so wanted.
The other additions that come with The Final Cut are far from being as major. As aforementioned, there are new quests, new clothes, new characters, a new location and a new difficulty mode: hardcore mode. From what I can tell, from the perspective of someone new to Disco Elysium, there is nothing here that would really entice players to return to it, although at least some of these changes and additions are welcome if you choose to do so or if this is your first time with the game.
Disco Elysium – The Final Cut is an uneven, underwhelming and, depending on whether or not you play with a controller, frustrating way of revamping one of the best CRPGs in recent memory. However, despite these blemishes, Disco Elysium – The Final Cut remains a profoundly well written, funny and poignant video game.