ZA/UM’s unconventional hardboil-’em-up starring you, Detective Garbage, and your miserable personal failures has now introduced a difficulty mode that dials up the existential anxiety to unprecedented levels.
One of 2019’s most intriguing and innovative games, Disco Elysium is an isometric RPG about “death, sex, taxes and disco”, and features a complex character system that keeps you making the wrong decisions. And with the Hardcore True Detective mode, things get so much worse.
“This isn’t meant for first-time detectives who aren’t already familiar with Martinaise,” game artist Mikk Metsnit explains on the studio’s blog. “If you’re new on the beat, come back after you’ve already enjoyed your time in Revachol. This one’s for officers ready to burn out on a wild ride.”
Uh. You mean I wasn’t supposed to burn out the first time? Awkward.
According to Metsnit, this is what players can expect:
YOU’RE GONNA FAIL MORE
You’ll fail more. That’s a fact of life in Hardcore Mode. The difficulty of every Check goes up, bringing your chances of success down. Solving this case without being a Total Disaster Cop is even harder than normal. On the bright side, you’ll have more to be proud of if you do solve the case, even if your dignity got left behind with the Union of Moribund Alcoholics. And the Cuno. And Klaasje. And — well, just take your victories where you can.
YOU’RE GONNA BE POORER
The pornographically poor people Martinaise have even less money to drop, meaning there’s less for you to pick up. Lining your pockets with that delicious lucre is going to be nigh on impossible. Better get used to picking up every scrap of tare you can find. At least Roy still gives okay deals in his pawnshop, as you sell off your material wealth for a pittance. You’ve always had to hustle to survive. Now you’ve got to hustle more.
YOU’RE GONNA GET SCREWED BY BIG-PHARMA
What’s more, pharmacutical prices have gone up. That’s right! Failing costs you even more. Not only are your favorite over-the-counter drugs are more expensive — they don’t even heal you as much. Even if you find a forgotten stash in the streets, it won’t be as good. That’s how they get you though, isn’t it? They charge you more for less, and make a killing as you die.
YOU’RE GONNA LEARN TO LOVE DRUGS
If you weren’t a fan of booze and cigarettes before, let alone the hard stuff — well, good luck to you. Life’s a lot more bearable with those pick-me-ups. When all other help abandons you, and your sweet drugs are all that’s left, it’ll be harder to resist the call. Sweet ciggys to clear your head, an extra drink to build up your courage. Hardcore Mode makes it clearer how Martinaise fell into disrepute. No wonder there’s a drug problem when folks have nothing else to turn to.
YOU’RE GONNA TREASURE YOUR CLOTHES
The few posessions you do have become more important. That FRITTTE Plastic Rain Coat never protected you so good. Your Amphibian Sports Visor always helped you find stuff, but that stuff never mattered so much. Those Flare-Cut, though, and those Green Snakeskin Shoes — you might want to lose them before you try to make any jumps.
YOU’RE GONNA THINK MORE CAREFULLY
You’ve got to be cafeful with what goes in your head, too. You’ve got to plan carefully what you start thinking and when. The Thought Cabinet debuffs are more painful when you’re already more liable to fail. Can you really afford to indulge your Superstar fantasies for a few hours when it’s already harder to think straight? On the flip side, the bonuses thoughts offer might push you down paths you wouldn’t take otherwise. Maybe it’s not sexy to be a Boring Cop, but that extra stability might really help you out.
YOU’RE GONNA WISE UP FASTER
There is one saving grace you have in Hardcore Mode. The self-help books, at last, are right: Failure builds character. In this worse world, you’ll gain token amounts of extra XP every time you finish a Task. You’ll lever faster and higher, if only marginally. You’ll be able to become a more well-rounded cop, better than you ever were before. So that’s something, at least!
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