Disco Elysium can be dark, beautiful, grimy, and entertaining all at the same time. But it’s also very stressful. One wrong move can put you in a world of hurt — closing off certain paths to success or putting you in the ground. Thankfully, there is plenty you can do to prepare yourself The game doesn’t do the best job of explaining how to land on your feet (which is largely intentional), so we’ve put together a list of Disco Elysium tips. They ought to help you put your best foot forward
Time Matters (Sometimes a Lot) – Disco Elysium Tips
You might have noticed the clock in the bottom-right corner of your screen. This marks the time of day in Disco Elysium — and it might not work how you expect. The timer progresses any time you interact with objects, your subconscious, or other people. It’s not an exact science, but you usually spend about one minute for every 1-3 dialogue options. The clock does not progress in real-time!
Time is a major factor in the game, however. You need to reach a certain amount of progress in the main murder case before a certain in-game day. That shouldn’t be a problem. You actually have a ton of time to work with in the grand scheme of things. Time of day is the bigger factor. You will receive positive and negative modifiers to certain skill checks based on when you do things during the day. Some leads will become inaccessible if you wait too long. Kim Kitsuragi, your partner, won’t be around to help you very late at night.
Walking around does not advance time. Neither does picking up most things (like cash and clothes). You’re completely free to look around as much as you like. Just keep remember whenever someone — or something — warns you a clue won’t be around forever!
Equip the Garbage Bag – Disco Elysium Tips
Very early in Disco Elysium — almost immediately after you start the game — you can acquire a yellow plastic bag. It’s to the west of the hostel, next to an unnamed NPC on some stairs by the waterfront. He won’t speak to you, but you can pick up the sack right next to him. This is an incredibly useful item! It’s a “tool” you can equip in one hand like the flashlight or prybar. Except it comes with the added benefit of highlighting new items in the world while you hold it.
These are “tare”: recyclable bottles and cans. Interact with them while you have the bag equipped to collect them! From there on out, you can visit the Frittte (a convenience store to the east of the Whirling-in-Rags hostel) to deposit them. Each bottle is worth 10 cents. That’s not much, but it does add up when you can collect dozens and dozens of bottles throughout Disco Elysium. Collecting the tare also doesn’t cause time to progress. There’s literally no reason not to drop them off!
Go to the Apartment Building – Disco Elysium Tips
Once again, near the very start of Disco Elysium, you can find an apartment building on the northwest side of town. The entrance is an unmarked doorway just above the docks where you meet Joyce. This apartment building is tied to a number of side quests throughout the game — such as Cuno’s and “Martin Martinaise’s.” More immediately, though, it’s also chock full of cash you can swipe from rooms and hideaways. It’s a great source of money early in the game with pretty much zero consequences.
Talk to Joyce – Disco Elysium Tips
Speaking of Joyce: make sure you meet with her. She’s at the docks to the west of Whirling-in-Rags. You can find her stationed on a little boat throughout most of the day. Much like the garbage bag and the apartment building, she’s a stellar source of early game cash. She will give you 130 bucks (a sum that’s not too steep, not too little) to pay off your damages at the hostel. It’s mostly without consequence. Taking her money will be a detriment to certain skill checks when you converse with her. However, you can circumvent some of the problems by finding your badge.
Hang Onto Skill Points – Disco Elysium Tips
The vast, vast majority of skill checks in Disco Elysium are colored white. That means you can try them more than once. Although you need to spend a skill point on said skill to unlock any failed checks. That means it’s almost never worth dumping points into a skill before you make a white check. No matter what, there is always a tiny chance you will succeed. The odds bottom out at three percent (about the chances of two dice rolling sixes, which is always a success in this game). I’ve had the game roll in my favor this way at least once!
Instead it’s better to back out of a conversation before performing a white check. Make sure you don’t have any clothes equipped that lower your necessary skill. Make sure you do wear any clothes that can give you a bonus. Then make the initial check. If it doesn’t succeed, then you can consider pumping a skill point into it. That way you get multiple chances right away — with better odds on the second roll.
Look for Other Ways to Unlock Checks – Disco Elysium Tips
Here’s another reason to keep your skill points: there are hidden ways to unlock white checks. Talking to relevant people, finishing certain thoughts, and discovering clues can all better your odds of succeeding a check. You can tell what things affect your chances by hovering over the white check. It will say things like “talked to X person,” or “gave Y person a hat.” These don’t just add to your odds of succeeding. They can also organically unlock white checks without needing to spend skill points!
Check Your Thoughts – Disco Elysium Tips
Speaking of thoughts, make sure you keep an eye on them. They’re a limited resource in Disco Elysium — in that you can only have a certain number equipped at one time. But not all thoughts are created equal! Some provide flat bonuses. Others lower some of your skills as long as you have them equipped, but provide other benefits, as well. What you need at any one point might change significantly. And it can be more cost-effective to spend one skill point to remove a thought with multiple negatives. That gives you multiple points back in those skills and opens up a slot for another thought you might want to inject. Removing complete thoughts is permanent, however! So, uh, think carefully.
Go Across the River on Wednesday – Disco Elysium Tips
There’s a bridge across the water far to the south of where you start the game. It’s inaccessible at first. However, starting on Wednesday morning, you can cross the bridge into a little fishing village. Absolutely do that! The coastal town is home to a ton of goodies and useful things. There’s tare, raw cash laying around, a free place to sleep every night, and other… more spoiler-y things you can choose to uncover. The journey is absolutely worth it.
You Can Stay Up Awful Late – Disco Elysium Tips
Kim won’t stay up with you for 24 hours straight. The good detective likes to be in bed before midnight. On the other hand, your character can stay up till the wee hours of the morning. That’s a great time to get things done! Most in-game conversations will benefit from having Kim around to bounce ideas off. However, there are a handful of things that become easier if you’re alone. You can still collect items in the world or pass time on the bench (to progress thoughts) without Kim, too. Finally, since most in-game checks are repeatable, you can always come back with your partner in the morning and try again with his help.
Click the Little Circles – Disco Elysium Tips
The little colored circles that appear throughout Disco Elysium don’t often do much. When they do, however, it can be awfully important. They can lead to inner monologues and even fully developed thoughts that will help you on your investigation. Some bubbles will even make objects appear in the world that weren’t there before.
There’s even a thought that will give you one XP every single time you click on the observation bubbles. That’s not much, but XP required to unlock skill points never scales. It only ever costs 100 XP to unlock another skill point! Given that there are hundreds of circles throughout the game, that’s well worth the trouble. Not to mention even a single XP can push you over the edge after gaining experience elsewhere.
Investigate the Body Right Away – Disco Elysium Tips
This actually goes for most of the “main” tasks in Disco Elysium. You usually want to get an early start. Odds are that you won’t actually be able to finish them right away, of course. You probably need more information, higher skills, and/or bonuses from clothing to help you finish. But! Beginning the key tasks can often give you some much-needed direction. It will tell you what you don’t know, and point you towards what you need to focus on next. Some preliminary information can even help you gather clues that you will take back into the main investigation further down the line.
Talk to Everyone, Investigate Everything – Disco Elysium Tips
The time limit in Disco Elysium is scary. it only progresses when you talk to people, or investigate objects, but it flies past faster than you might expect. That might discourage you from looking into every little thing that crosses your path… Don’t let it! There is very, very rarely anything in Disco Elysium that isn’t ultimately useful in some capacity. You might not even realize it at first!
I once kicked an inanimate object, for instance, and only took damage for my trouble. I thought it was just a gag. But later on, when I returned to that location, I got a bonus from the early action towards a hidden objective. You will be incredibly surprised by how much things connect back to each other.