The Council Episode One:
The Mad Ones
The Council is a period drama set during the 18th century on a mysterious island just off the coast of England. It’s an episodic adventure that is much in the same vain as Telltale’s style of games, but with a bit more traditional role-playing that we are all use to.
The first episode we are treated to is The Mad Ones and is the opening chapter to The Councils overall story. Here we see a secret society at the mansion led by a mysterious host Lord Mortimer, meeting up on the island with famous faces of history like Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington. One of the guests at this meeting is Louis de Richet, who has arrived on the island at the request of Lord Mortimer and to go in search of his mother Sarah de Richet.
The Council gameplay is a mixture of RPG elements and storytelling. At the start of the game you get the usual option of what class to choose. Each class rewards you with a number of skills to start with. Each skill has their purpose in the game and as you progress these skills can be upgraded, or you can acquire newer skills that can help you approach each scenario you meet in the story. An example of this would be if opted for the Detective side of your skills tree. You will have the ability to notice something strange or amiss with someone’s behaviour or appearance. The same goes for Linguistics, this ability lets you understands texts and conversations in a different language, which can be really helpful later on in the story when you need to read a book or overhear a conversation. As you progress through the game, you earn XP or experience points. You will use these points to upgrade your skills to customising Louis on how you want to play the game.
You can choose to manipulate people if you play as a detective, as I did, or you can lie through your teeth if you have the conviction to pull it off. All of this will expose you to different information depending upon the type of protagonist you play. This is what makes the game so intriguing as you can replay the game multiple times and get numerous outcomes. As the more you play the game again you get new and interesting information about each character. In each conversation you will also get the standard conversation choices, but there are times when you get some special choices that are based on the skills. Sometimes these are greyed out if you have yet to unlock them, leaving you wonder, did you make the right choice in the abilities you selected at the start. When you have the right abilities to choose in a conversation, you will use up your Focus Points. These are used up every time you select a choice. These Focus Points will let you pick some dialogue options and can be used to discover new information or identifying another character’s weaknesses. What is good about this, is that once you know a character struggles with logic, you can use that logic to see if you can exploit their weakness for more information.
With The Council there is always a new twist or angle to the story and every character you meet seems to have some sort of hidden agenda or ulterior motive. The more you converse with each character you can learn more about who they are, and more on how to find your mother. The story is well laid out in front of you and the plot seems to thicken as you reach the conclusion of the first episode, which can have multiple outcomes depending on your choices, and without ruining the story for anyone, you will need to check them out for yourself. With the impressive story as its backdrop, there is a bit of a concern that the conversations at times, can feel a little awkward and doesn’t flow like the rest of the narrative. Hopefully this is something that may be addressed in future episodes. The only other concern would be that I would hope the developers deliver the rest of the episodes in a timely fashion. If they are too far apart, they would need to do some proper recaps on each new episode before starting them. This is due to how complicated the story is and how many different story arcs there are in the game.
The Council has what it takes to become a truly impressive title, IF the developers can keep the episodes coming at a steady pace and ramping up the tension as we reach the finale. While it’s still too early to determine just how great this game can be. While it’s more of a narrative adventure title, it’s the RPG elements that set it apart from the rest and it’s a refreshing twist. I feel the game is definitely on the right track and look forward to playing Episode Two.
GoG Rating: 7/10
* Review copy provided free of charge by Focus Home Interactive/Bastion*