Disco Elysium: This is how the port for the switch was created

The idea for “Disco Elysium” came from Robert Kurvitz, the founder of the ZA / UM studio, in the early 2000s and began with board game concepts and novel ideas. It took years for the steampunk world to be realized as a video game. An Estonian team of developers worked on the game that was then called “No Truce with the Furies”. In October 2019, “Disco Elysium” was released under the new name and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and fans.

Disco Elysium for the Switch

Similar to many other successful titles, “Disco Elysium” is now being implemented as a port for the Nintendo Switch. After the Stadia and PlayStation releases in early 2021, the “Final Cut” version for Nintendo’s hybrid console will appear on October 12, 2021. The decision to optimize the game for the Nintendo Switch comes as little surprise – the strong focus on dialogues is only amplified by a handheld console.

The slightly different role play

The makers of “Disco Elysium” drew inspiration from similarly complex role-playing games with interactions and so-called “skill checks”, such as “Planescape: Torment” or “Baldur’s Gate”. Instead of the usual attributes, players in “Disco Elysium” award points in the categories of intellect, psyche, constitution and motor skills. Each of these attributes in turn includes a range of skills such as logic, empathy, electrochemistry and responsiveness. As a result, the diverse combinations enable surprisingly fascinating conversations and game moments.
Disco Elysium Skills
The skills and abilities in “Disco Elysium” are very different from classic RPGs.
If you look at the sheer size of the game, it’s hard to believe that the developers were able to implement the port to the Nintendo Switch with great detail. During a presentation, the developers Kaspar Tamsalu and Siim Raidma gave insights into the conscientious porting process. “The Disco Elysium story began a long time ago,” said Tamsalu as he showed an old floor plan of the studio. Raidma added that her team at that time consisted only of authors and artists who had no experience in the game industry and now wanted to set up their own studio. Interviews took place in the attic amid dead pigeons and lots of bird droppings. “It scared off the wrong people and attracted the right ones,” explains Raidma.
Disco Elysium Nintendo Switch Shadow on the Boardwalk
The world of Elysium still looks great on the Switch too.
According to Tamsalu, ZA / UM initially had to “cut back a little” huge plans. The reason: The harsh reality of game development and the associated efforts. Fortunately, they hardly had to compromise on the actual world of Elysium – the world in the game looks almost as impressive as the first concept drawings.

Getting feedback was overwhelming

The studio was of course extremely happy about the initial feedback on the game. “We had high goals but very low expectations,” said Tamsalu. As more and more awards came in for the game of the year, the team was already in the process of refining the PC version and bringing it to other platforms. The result of these efforts was “The Final Cut”. Tamsalu said: “That was our chance to add a complete speech output for the game and at the same time bring in all the ideas that didn’t make it into the launch version.” This extended version appeared on PC, PlayStation and Google Stadia in March 2021 and brought new quests, various quality-of-life changes and the aforementioned professional voice output.
Disco Elysium Nintendo Switch Inventory
The user interface had to be completely revised for the switch version.
After the “Final Cut” update was released, the team continued to work on the game, fixing bugs and implementing community feedback. But the switch port was, as Raidma put it, a “great opportunity to completely rework the game a second time.” He described the implementation of the switch version of “Final Cut” as a “massive undertaking”. The user interface had to be completely redesigned for handheld use, while the size of the text was adjusted so that it is not only readable, but also fits on the screen and correctly stages crucial moments. The goal was to keep the game legible, accessible, and good-looking – even on small Switch displays. In addition, the incredibly detailed voice output of the game was a further hurdle in the implementation. Tamsalu said that due to the size of the language files, it was a “very close thing to get the game on the console”

Performance as the crux of the matter

Graphically optimizing a PC game for the Nintendo Switch was also no easy task, but according to Raidma it was an “interesting optimization process”. The framework in which they could work on the game’s performance was tight. ZA / UM started with the minimum requirements for the PC and worked its way up until the game looked “as good as possible” on the Nintendo Switch. Kaspar Tamsalu pointed out that “Disco Elysium” now looks and performs better than ever before, even if it “didn’t always run as smoothly as it does now”.
Disco Elysium Nintendo Switch characters
To make the port possible, the graphics had to be screwed down a bit.
It should not be left unmentioned, however, that the game characters on the Switch now have harder edges in the graphical context as well. Similar to porting The Witcher 3, this seems like one of the few compromises Switch users have to make. In the end, however, the benefits of tweaking the text size and UI outweigh the benefits, as the clunky character models don’t get in the way of the developers’ original vision or the charming character animations.

Disco Elysium Switch: Physical or Download

Anyone who has not tried “Disco Elysium” can do so on the Nintendo Switch from October 12, 2021, as soon as the digital version appears in the Nintendo eShop. The physical Collector’s Edition produced by iam8bit will come onto the market in early 2022.



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