Part of the praise for Disco Elysium, a late 2019 Game of the Year contender, is that its gameplay is hilariously frustrating. Now, ZA/UM wants to take a little bit of that humor in failure away. (Unless you really like pain.) Now available for download, Disco Elysium’s new “Hardcore Mode” really makes your detective work a helluva hard time. Like, a really hard time.
Disco Elysium, which runs on a series of pass/fail “checks,” always allows a little leeway for mistakes. Players get a little extra cash, or find fifty ways around each situation. But with a series of tweaks to gameplay, ZA/UM claims that “solving this case without being a Total Disaster Cop is even harder than normal.”
“On the bright side,” ZA/UM says, trying to assuage players’ fears, “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.”
Check out our review of this game: Find Meaning in the Slow Apocalypse
And off the bat, it sounds like a lot. Because the already-difficult checks? Those are getting buffed. And it’d be a lot if that were it on its own. But it’s not.
The game nerfs down a lot of the little things that make Disco Elysium flow as a player. In Hardcore Mode, you’re given less money: “You’re gonna be poorer,” as ZA/UM states. Your drugs and first aid cost more; “You’re gonna get screwed by big-pharma.” Even your clothes are going to be more valuable. If you suspended your disbelief about how the protagonist managed feats with one shoe off, that suspension’s about to crash.
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Little vices aren’t going to be as “little:” cigarettes and alcohol are going to call to the protagonist a lot more. “Life’s a lot more bearable with those pick-me-ups,” ZA/UM says. “When all other help abandons you, and your sweet drugs are all that’s left, it’ll be harder to resist the call […] 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.”
And most importantly, your “Thought Cabinet” debuffs are going to be far more intense. Disco Elysium seems to believe it went relatively easy with how your protag’s brain affected… well, everything. Frankly, alcoholism and detective work are already a lot to deal with. As it turns out—honestly? Dealing with a chatterbox mind that can provoke you to do some ridiculous stuff is also a lot to deal with. Guess Hardcore Mode will reflect that a little more.
But they aren’t going to make you suffer (entirely) through your journey. Players receive increased amounts of XP upon completing tasks. In times of difficulty, after all, every bit of success means more.
So, in short, Disco Elysium’s Hardcore Mode is………………………………………….. a lot. But, if you’re itching to spend your afternoon frustrated at everything you encounter, this sure as hell is one way to do it.