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Revachol, the disgraced former capital of the world, now a city full of "contrasts" and character, is the subject of the latest developer blog for ZA/UM Studio's detective RPG Disco Elysium. Apart from describing what makes Revachol tick and giving us a taste of ZA/UM's writing, the blog post also talks a bit about Disco Elysium's doomed world and your role in it. So, let's start with a bite-sized trailer:
And then check out the post itself:
When middle class people talk about foreign places, they like to talk about “contrasts”. Travel magazines, financial journals, regional reports on the news… it’s all about those contrasts.
And what they mean by “contrasts” is that most people are pornographically poor while a few are obscenely wealthy. That’s what they mean by contrasts. East of the river, monetary organizations promote regional stability, west of the river cops collect tare for cash and junkies shake so hard their bones come loose from their sockets.
There is no city in the world with more contrasts than Revachol. The broken, magnificent, disgraced former capital of the world. A great sky on fire, reflecting off broken glass. Revachol the Suzerain, Revachol the Commune, Revachol the Administrative Region where all forms of government have failed. Revachol the Resolver, the answer to the great burning questions of history. How should we live? Will the horror ever end?
Revachol sits on a fertile island in the middle of the Insulindian Ocean, the world’s largest body of water; in the eye of a great archipelago called Face-A-La-Mer. To be from Revachol is to be Revacholian. To be deserted, destroyed. A drug addict with an immunodeficiency disorder. A joke and a clown and a loser baby.
It’s like the hanged man behind the hostel cafeteria said: there’s nothing funny about jokes.
There’s nothing funny about you either. Your swollen face in the mirror. A past you don’t recognize, a world you can’t bear to remember. The river Esperance flows from north to south, splitting the city in two. In its delta, great ghosts rise to the sky – the financial district. To the east: Le Jardin. Houses with gardens rise along the mountainside, up to Saint-Batiste where two of the world’s five largest companies keep their headquarters. But you don’t wake up there – you wake up west of the river.
West of the river, it’s funky-baby holocaust time all day every day. In East-Jamrock, wild animals roam the valley at night – giraffes that escaped from the Royal Zoo 50 years ago. Giraffes – even-toed ungulates from the savannah. The local kiosque chain Frittte (sic) employs a private army of 2000 men to guard its properties in Jamrock and Faubourg. That’s how bad the crime rate is – you need a private army to run a kiosque chain. And deregulation? They built a citizen-funded primitive nuclear reactor on the river. And it immediately entered core meltdown. That’s pretty deregulated if you ask me. Below Precinct 41 there’s a kebab merchant called Kuklov who makes kebabs that make you immortal if you can eat three and survive. In Villalobos an entire street is walled off and turned into a poppy field by a deified gangster called The Mazda, while his mortal enemy La Puta Madre exclusively employs former narcotics officers to farm his own fields. Through underground tunnels, kids descend into Le Royaume, the resting place of three centuries’ worth of the royal dead, to bring up rat tails and the pearl-encrusted teeth of civil servants. Child labour dungeoneering is a cottage industry. Someone came up with a synthetic opiate called the hunch that has a high lasting for two seconds. You only feel it while you’re injecting it.
Contrasts upon contrasts! So many juxtapositions of the old and the new. Dark shades and brilliant highlights. A city of opposites. A real mother fucking dialogue.
Loyalists (a euphemism for “fascists”) say it’s all because of the failed Revolution, 50 years ago. If good, kind king Guillaume were still around, he’d drive the moneylenders and the homo-sexuals back into the ocean! Once we were an octopus that straddled the world, sucking up natural and human resources from Iilmaraa to South-East Seol. The city state that screwed the whole world. Then deranged commies pushed the king under a street car and lost the civil war to foreign intervention, damning us to financial servitude. The communists don’t respond with anything – they’re all dead. Okay, one is still alive and teaches cultural theory at the Ecole Normale de Revachol, east of the river. And there’s talk of two more employed by a failed radio-game studio. But the rest are all dead, bulldozed into mass graves after the Coalition Army retook Revachol in ’08.
In the ‘20s, the city was divided into zones de contrôle under foreign nations: the Mesque Zone, the Occident-Graad zone, and the International zone. The International Zone is west of the river. International means: no one gives a shit. It’s no one’s business.
Except yours. You’ve spent your entire life in the International Zone. As a police detective. In the Revachol Citizen’s Militia, a citizen-funded police force as safe (and well-funded) as that nuclear reactor.
It has not been an easy life. Things have not gone well for you. That love thing didn’t work out. Radio networks criss-cross the air, spewing meaningless, feverish political rhetoric. Beyond the curve of the horizon, where the ocean ends, there is an unknowable anti-reality mass called the pale. It has been there for as long as human beings have written down history. And it’s advancing.
The year is ’52. It’s the 5th of March and you’re lying on the floor of the Whirling-In-Rags hostel cafeteria. In Martinaise, North Jamrock. The sound of Lieutenant Kitsuragi’s motor carriage arriving on the scene interrupts what can only be described as an act of self-annulment through alcohol and amphetamine use. Your bell bottom pants make your ass look fat and, dear god, you think you’ve lost your badge.
It’s up to you – and you alone – to save the whole world. To untie the great knot. To crack the case. To resolve reality. You are the last Revacholian hero. The Revacholian hero has nothing, but he must conquer everything. If he doesn’t care, no one does. All of it will slowly roll into the heavens under the advancing pale, or it will contract into a singular miracle only the Revacholian hero can deliver.
All you have to help you in this – the last and the greatest of the cases undertaken by man on Earth, in the sheer face of death and history – is Lieutenant Kim Kitsuragi from Precinct 57.
There’s a dead body in the tree. There are battle lines in the streets. 4 days remain until the district explodes in violence; 28 years remain until the end of the world. Every day, every second, every beat of your ailing heart matters