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Disco Elysium blew us away with its heartbreaking, hilarious, and memorable characters. Although many of the inhabitants of Revachol are far from pleasant (e.g. Cuno), meeting them and learning what makes them tick is a delight. Everyone has a story in the world’s fallen capital, and it’s easy to get caught up in their plots and dreams, nevermind the murder. Even minor actions and skill checks have repercussions, some of which don’t become apparent until days later. The dialogue that flows from these choices feels reactive but unpredictable, more like a face-to-face conversation than selecting options from a tree.
Although Lt. Kim Kitsuragi is such an outstanding guy, Disco Elysium’s protagonist is the standout character. His internal conversations, which include one voice for each of his twenty-four skills, as well as commentary from his ancient reptile brain and slimy limbic system, are an effective tool for exploring his dissolution and rebirth. They’re also a whole lot of fun. They bicker, contradict each other, snarl, and strut. Like its superstar cop, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of Disco Elysium, and the results are spectacular.
When it comes to dialogue in video games, few do it better than Obsidian Entertainment, and The Outer Worlds is a fine demonstration of penmanship that only avoids the top spot due to one of the most cerebral games in a long time. Set in one of humanity’s isolated colonies in the Halcyon system, the tedium and horror of living in a corporate dystopia is expressed via subversive and witty writing. While poking fun at corporate greed and the incompetence of monolithic bureaucracy is hardly revolutionary, what’s impressive is that despite how unrelentingly these negative messages are presented throughout the game, it never feels preachy or demoralizing. The Outer Worlds is just one of those games that can make players laugh at the apparent absurdity of life in Halcyon, before making them uncomfortable on second reflection at the real-world parallels. Whether it’s a ship’s snarky AI trying to convince players to lie to her to avoid protocol, a robotic guard downgrading their threat level because of a companion’s idiotic interjection, or the chilling last records of a colony ship dealing with unexpected problems during a long voyage, there is much to enjoy in The Outer Worlds.
It can’t be understated how important the dialogue is to Nihon Falcom’s The Legend of Heroes series, and Trails of Cold Steel III is no exception. The quality and attention to detail of the writing shows through, not just in interactions between the main characters, but in all the little side stories that affect the minor NPCs throughout the world. The dialogue supplies an incredible level of charm across the world and really sucks players into all of the facets of the story of the Erebonian Empire. The localisation has always played a key part as well, and NIS America has picked up where XSEED Games left off, going so far as to bring on board some of those who localised previous entries. It shows and ensures Trails of Cold Steel III comes in the top set of games this year in terms of dialogue.
by Zach Welhouse, Nathan Garvin, and Alex Fuller