This article originally appeared on ABACUS Musings on the collapse of the Soviet Union and the legacy of communism might not seem like the best premise for a hit video game. But it worked for Disco Elysium . The PC game, which won Best Narrative Game at The Game Awards 2019, is only now catching on in China thanks to a recent translation. But ironically, the country literally ruled by a communist party has a translation that deliberately disguises references to communism, among other things considered politically sensitive. Disco Elysium is a point-and-click adventure game in which you role-play as a hard-boiled detective trying to solve a murder case in the fictitious city of Revachol. The city is meant to reflect a post-Soviet Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and is shown to be a hotbed of class conflict, racism and even fascism. The story of Disco Elysium, written by Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz, is deliberately ideological. The game’s creators even gave a shout-out to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their victory speech, citing The Communist Manifesto as an inspiration for the game. But it’s not a complete endorsement of communism. It appears to take aim at ideologies of all stripes, which seems to have struck a chord with many Chinese gamers. “Very impressive. Maybe this is a game that only countries that went through the communist revolution can fully understand,” one Chinese Steam user wrote . “It’s a poem for both despair and light.” Another Steam user said that he appreciates how the game appears to have looked beyond the various isms of the world. “It depicted an age where isms fell apart, greatness drew its last breath and various tribes that looked to profit or save people tore our society apart,” he wrote . “People are still people, stupid and restless, fragile and gentle all at the same time.” Ever since the rollout of the translation in simplified Chinese, the script primarily used in mainland China, discussions about Disco Elysium have been springing up across Chinese social media platforms. It’s also giving the game a huge boost in its Steam ratings as Chinese gamers gush in reviews on Valve’s digital game store. But perhaps because Disco Elysium also appears to have critiqued communism and socialism, some politically sensitive words weren’t directly translated into Chinese. Most notably, the word communism was replaced with a transliteration. So instead of the actual Chinese term “ gongchan zhuyi ” for communist doctrine, players got “ kangmi zhuyi ”. In reviews, Chinese gamers appear largely sympathetic to developer ZA/UM’s decision to be evasive with its translation. Many gamers praised the company for translating a game said to contain more than a million words . Chinese is also the first translation released for the game. “They have tried their best with Elysium Disco’s Chinese translation. A lot of made-up words were used to substitute sensitive terms,” a Zhihu user wrote . “So gamers who are familiar with Eastern European and Soviet history will probably have an easier time understanding the game.” Zhihu, where people in China go to ask questions and get answers Another reason Chinese gamers say Disco Elysium didn’t offend them is that players are given wide latitude for role-playing. There’s a wide range of responses for each dialogue or phenomenon, so any given player can walk away with their own understanding of the game. One Chinese Steam user said the game helped him better understand his political beliefs. “I thought I was a staunch kangmi -ist,” the gamer wrote , using the game’s made-up word for communist. “Turns out I’m actually the most despicable centrist. I’m so disgusting.” Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & JD.com through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.