One of my favorite aspects of Disco Elysium is that despite the marketing and internet conversation around it being the based leftist meme game, it totally refuses to go down that obnoxious, pandering route. I see people (online politics nerds) talk about the game this way and feel like I played something completely different.

Whenever Harry says some embarrassing shit like "Communism is actually extremely good ya'll" the person he's talking to seems completely bewildered or just flat out ignores him. To me this reads as the game making fun of you, saying that no, if you say this shit to people in real life it is not based but in fact, cringe. Nobody knows what the fuck you're talking about, you weird internet creature. If you choose the option to internalize Mazovian Socio-Economics (Marxist-Leninism) the game openly ridicules you as borderline delusional for thinking you're the "communism builder" just because you're a very smart boy with the right opinions. Its only effects besides obnoxious new dialogue options for you to lecture people with are just stat penalties.

The truth is that you, the player (likely an online leftist), are probably kind of a loser dork who can barely keep your own life together, just like Harry. You aren't doing le epic praxis or owning the chuds. You might be a good person with the best of intentions, but you're still just a cog in the machine and, like Harry at the end of the game, you continue that role despite being Literally a Communist. This isn't a game about choosing your political alignment; That part of the game is basically a side show (most of which was added after release). Like its creator said, it's really a game about "reapplying for your job as a human being", with a spiritually hollowed out society haunted by the past serving as the context for this story.

But while the game perfectly portrays the seemingly hopeless and socially sterile time we live in, it also asserts that unexpected, beautiful things are still possible with moments like the Phasmid scene and the brief glimmers of genuine solidarity among its characters. The dice-rolling nature of the game itself asserts that while we have very little control over our lives, there is always possibility. The innate need for freedom and dignity among human beings can never be stamped out. As long as that remains, a better world is possible - even if we will never see it ourselves.

Reviewed on Jan 29, 2022