The morning after hitting the bottle hard seldom looks appealing, but Jonjo Hemmens' reconstruction of Disco Elysium's alcohol-fueled aftermath injects a tragic beauty into the scenario. A game that begins with an epic hangover has sparked the creativity of Rocksteady's senior environment artist. Hemmens hails the original game as his all-time favorite, which led him down the path of reimagining its art style through semi-realism inspired by titles like Deathloop and Dishonored 2.
Disco Elysium has never been conventional, with its striking aesthetic and deep narrative immersion. Hemmens embraced this by choosing a small yet intricate space for his project — the protagonist's hotel room. His environment breathes life into every neglected corner and discarded object, revealing a crime scene of self-destruction. The attention to detail is meticulous, as Hemmens committed to adding elements like clothing, a record player, and various clutter that tell the unspoken tales of the in-game detective's struggles.
Jean Zoudi's rendition of the game's lead, Harrier Du Bois, finds a place in Hemmens' work, solidifying the connection between the original art and his transformative vision. The setting is littered with poignant details, such as empty cassettes and police gear, all contributing to a tangible sense of place. The artistic flourishes don't stop at mere props; Hemmens integrates narrative-driven items like speedy stimulants and medication into his piece, deepening the story through environmental storytelling.
Even elements with unclear origins, like a curiously colored splatter on a broken door, morph into focal points in Hemmens' recreation. He approaches these mysteries not as obstacles but as opportunities to expand on the source material's charm, layering his interpretation with finesse. This care results in a scene that feels both fresh and inherently connected to Disco Elysium's universe, grabbing the observer's interest with its peculiarity and contrast.
The project is a love letter to the creative force of ZA/UM's original game, even as the studio currently faces internal struggles. Hemmens' work demonstrates enduring appreciation and an ambition to expand on Disco Elysium's universe. Fans may long for a game remade in Hemmens' envisioned style, but the art itself stands as a testament to the game's lasting influence and the power of artistic homage. This tribute speaks not just to the talent of Hemmens but also to the transcendent quality of Disco Elysium's world, one that continues to inspire long after the screen fades to black.