It’s disco time, baby.
Disco Elysium is a beautiful, brilliantly-written RPG. That said, it can be confusing to begin with, and not just because you’re an amnesiac cop. Rather than combat, many of your challenges come in the form of passing or failing ‘checks,’ dice rolls that are influenced by a range of factors from attributes to your relationship with that person and what you’ve found out. You’ll also need to use your noggin to save cases and keep an eye out for secrets. Read our handy beginners guide to prepare yourself with a bunch of tips for getting started.
Hold TAB while walking around
There are so many secrets to find in Disco Elysium’s world. While some of them are clearly highlighted by default with orbs or outlines, some objects like coins and discarded bottles lying around are only highlighted when you hold the TAB button. Get in the habit of holding this while you walk around, to ensure that you find every last item.
Read your journal for tips
At times, you can have a dizzying number of cases and other side quests open at once. Thankfully, your journal comes in particularly handy for keeping track of these. Not only does it remind you of what’s currently active, but it will also sometimes tell you where to go or who to speak to next, or even give other little hints about how you should tackle the quest. Don’t forget to check your journal on a regular basis.
How to get money for a room
On your first day, the manager at your hotel breaks the news you need to pay for damages and unpaid rent up you’ve accruded over the weekend. It’s quite a lot of money, and most of the little stockpiles of cash you can loot comprise of just a few cents.
So how do you get enough money to pay back Garte and stay at the hotel? You need to speak to Joyce at the docks in the north-west of the starting area. She’s stood on a boat. This well-to-do woman can fund you if you just ask – be upfront and say you need money, then when she says how much say “130 real.” Surprisingly, she’ll willingly help out, though she may want a favour doing in return…
Where to find a bag
Once you have a carrier bag you can collect ‘tare’ – used bottles – from around Revachol to make a few bonus real. Where can you find a bag? There’s a drunkard who hangs around on steps roughly opposite the Whirling-In-Rags hotel, to the west. He has a bag next to him and he’s in too much of a stupor to stop you from taking it, nor does he seemingly care.
Once you have the bag, equip it in one of your hands on your inventory screen and click on bottles lying around to pick them up. Hold TAB to help you find them.
Go off on tangents
Disco Elysium is a wordy game, with a large proportion of your time spent in conversation with the weird and wonderful residents of Revachol. While you may be tempted to get to the point and directly ask them what you’re wanting from them, it can pay off to dive down the deep rabbit holes of dialogue that are available.
Not only do these provide some entertaining and sometimes bizarre threads, but they can also give some more practical bonuses, too. Learn something new and you may be rewarded with 5XP. You might discover a new side quest. Or you might gain information that helps with a current quest or gives you a probability bonus for a check.
With all of that said, however…
…Watch the time
Time is finite in Disco Elysium, with the clock ticking as you interact with its world. Time still elapses while you’re in conversation, with each dialogue option advancing the clock. Ideally, you want to solve as many side quests as you can as well as the main investigation, so you can’t afford to dally too much.
You don’t want to miss out on potentially valuable conversations, but just be mindful of the time you’re racking up by talking to people. And as soon as you go AFK, pause rather than leave the game running.
Hot-swap your gear to improve stats
Items you can equip in Disco Elysium – shirts, shoes, hats etc. – all carry bonuses (or negatives!) to various stats. While you may have a preferred loadout of gear for general purposes, hot-swapping your gear beforehand is a very effective way to tackle white and red checks. Where possible, back out of a conversation, look through your inventory and find clothes with bonuses to the appropriate attribute (and remove any that apply negatives to it), then go back into the conversation and try the check.
It’s for this reason that it’s very useful to gain as much gear as you can, making you more versatile and likely to win checks across a variety of attributes. Note, however, that sometimes red checks can’t be backed out of and you’ll just have to try them with whatever you have equipped at the time – so ideally, walk around with a well-rounded set of gear as default.
An extra bonus tip is to bear in mind the sort of encounter you may be about to have – if you’re about to deliver bad news to someone, you may want to equip gear with bonuses to empathy, for example. And to get an extra temporary boost in a certain attribute, you can always resort to drugs or alcohol…
Wait to use skill points until you need an attribute
Each time you level up, you’ll receive a skill point. These have two uses: letting you unlock a new thought in your ‘Thought Cabinet’, or increasing an attribute on your character sheet. If you want to try a new thought, go ahead – these are largely unpredictable and can have interesting results. But as for increasing attributes, it can pay off to wait until a particular one is needed.
Once you enter a conversation with a white check (that can be retried) based on that particular skill, you have two options. You can either level it up straight away using your banked skill points (and equip the relevant gear), or try it at a lower level then add an attribute point on if you fail – levelling it up unlocks all checks of that type to try again. If the check is white and already has a decent probability rate, it may be worth a shot as long as you’re prepared to potentially lose a sliver of health or morale by failing. For red checks, you should level up beforehand as you only have one shot.
If all else fails, save-scum…
It had to be said, didn’t it? Disco Elysium is happy to let you save whenever you like, and for you to have as many save files as you want. Feel free to abuse that by reloading when you fail a check or get a result from a conversation you didn’t want. But if you’re going to do this at all, try and do it in moderation – the game is set up to allow failure, and believe it or not, it can be part of the fun sometimes. So don’t get too hung up on doing everything perfectly.
James, our deputy editor, loves a deep action-adventure game, RPG or metroidvania. In addition to making sure everything on the site is as good as it can be – scouring for typos, tweaking headlines, finding the fanciest images – he’s also in charge of the reviews section.