While the fascinating surreal detective RPG, Disco Elysium should come to a tidy conclusion when it launches this month, developer ZA/UM say that should they get the possibility to make a sequel… well, they have some ideas. Chief among these is the option for a pregnant woman as a second protagonist, which sounds potentially wild in a wordy RPG where your inner thoughts and physical body claim a presence far greater than numbers on a character sheet. Our Alice Bee chatted with with ZA/UM about that and more when she recently visited them, and has oh so much to tell us about that soon. For now, have a snippet of sequel chat.
ZA/UM haven’t announced a sequel, to be clear. They don’t know if they would even be able to make one. Disco Elysium is its own complete thing, they insist, and is not leading towards a sequel. But should they get to do one, they might be thinking of “a very large game,” lead designer and writer Robert Kurvitz told Alice. “Even much larger than Disco Elysium, which is already quite large.” You should hold onto your saves, just in case.
Alright, Alice just nipped out the treehouse to get more custard creams (someone keeps scarfing entire packets? we need to do detective work ourselves) so I can sneak onto her computer and grab a chunk of that interview:
An end goal of theirs is for the sequel to have a second main protagonist. Rather than Disco Elysium’s down-on-his-luck middle aged male cop, players could choose to be a pregnant woman, about five months along, which Kurvitz says would be an “incredible writing challenge” within Disco Elysium’s very weird, very internalised system of skills and thoughts. “It would be unbelievable to use our skill system to speak about the bodily sensations of having another organism inside of you, while you’re in the setting and talking to another person.” I call that quite a spicy meatball.
He says that “since we don’t want to go for commercial suicide it there would have to be the male character too,” and right now they don’t know if they’d be able to include the female character as part of the full game. Kurvitz says that most games that offer a choice between male and female protagonists aren’t really doing so, and that it’s financially impossible to write a good male and female perspective with the production timelines involved. “They’re none of them, they’re soldiers, then, or saviours or something. They don’t have male or female characters in that way.” Disco Elysium’s protagonist is a man, “with all the baggage that entails”, and so they don’t want to just change the character portrait and call it a job well done. That being the case, they’re erring on the side of this female protagonist being an expansion.
Shh. I hear clomping on the ladder. Shh! She’ll show us the rest soon.