Disco Elysium is weirdly great as a Game Boy RPG

(Image credit: Colin Brannan)

It's immediately clear that a lot of care has been put into Disco Elysium: Game Boy Edition. It's a demake that transforms our Game of the Year 2019 (and #1 in our Top 100)  into a spunky, lo-fi handheld romp, and it's oddly perfect. 

The art evokes Pokémon and any number of '90s Game Boy RPGs, but it also suggests sights and characters of Revachol, breaking these scenes down to their essentials. I recognise these places. Sure, I have to squint a little, but the essence is all there. 

Similarly, the dialogue has been condensed, matching the brisk, carefree writing of family-friendly RPGs, but the content remains the same as its grim inspiration. Within a couple of minutes, you're looking at a corpse hanging from a tree and making rolls so you don't have throw up your guts. 

(Image credit: Colin Brannan)

You pick an archetype at the start, rather than selecting specific skills, and then beef up those skills through successful rolls. The dice component isn't as hidden away this time, with skill checks taking you to a different screen where you've got to roll a pair of D6s and try to roll higher than the challenge's number. As Baldur's Gate 3 also confirmed, I'm a sucker for RPGs that let me pretend I'm playing a tabletop adventure. 

There's almost no audio, and it only recreates the beginning of what is at least a 20-hour RPG, but it's a great homage. I've been looking for another excuse to return to Revachol, and while I would have been even more excited by a Switch port, I can at least play the Game Boy Edition on my phone. I could even play it on my Game Boy, if I was willing to go through the effort of going to my parents' attic, finding one of my old handhelds and then downloading Disco Elysium as a ROM. 

Actually, that does sound pretty tempting.  

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.