There’s been a lot of choice-based video games out there recently. Sony has given us the likes of Heavy Rain and Until Dawn while Telltale has pretty much releasing everything under the sun over the last couple of years. Well a new decision style video game has come out from developer Big Bad Wolf called ‘The Council’. Episode 1 named “The Mad Ones” has just come out this month and it’s one of the more unique video games to be released in 2018 thus far.
Games that give players choices on how to affect the story can be both hit and miss depending on how much freedom is given to gamers. Heavy Rain is still my favorite game of this genre because players weregiven a lot of freedom plus there were multiple characters and endings for you to experience. On the other hand, you have more linear games that limit the player such as Planet of the Apes: The Last Frontier and even the latest episode from Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within.
The Council however falls in the middle as it features several options for players to undertake thanks to its RPG-like elements, although episode 1 is still somewhat linear since you can only control as one character and the choices presented to you is sometimes limited.
Anyway, let’s talk about the setting of The Council first because this is the most unique aspect of the entire game. Players assume the role of Louis de Richet who is part of a secret organization called the ‘Golden Order’. Louis has been a part of this organization ever since he was 14 years old thanks to his mother Sarah de Richet.
The game gets more interesting once Louis is invited to the island of Lord Mortimer alongside other famous guests such as President George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte just to name a few. Louis has to investigate what happened to his mother Sarah on the island because she has mysteriously disappeared. At the same time, Louis also has to find out more about the invited guests as well as why Lord Mortimer invited all of them onto the island in the first place.
At the start of the game, things are a little on the slow side because Louis doesn’t know what to do and the story does not pick up until he gets to meet the other guests on the island. It’s not until he realizes more about his mother do things get more interesting because Sarah may not have been as nice as he thought. Not to mention the mysterious Lord Mortimer fails to show his face throughout the entire first episode for some reason even though he’s responsible for inviting everyone in the first place!
Anyway, Louis has many ways he can talk with the other characters thanks to the added RPG-like progression system. At the start of the game, players have to choose to either be a Diplomat, Occulist or a Detective. Each class has their own strengths such as investigative skills, interrogation skills and more. Choosing the right class type allows you to find the type of clues you need in order to find Louis’ mother and why she’s gone missing in the first place.
In terms of gameplay, some people might dislike the fact that The Council lacks any type of action sequences or fighting of any kind. This is more for those that love murder mysteries because the majority of gameplay consists of you talking to the other guests at the party, finding clues and/or solving riddles and puzzles. I did not mind the gameplay of the game, although I do admit that some of the dialogue scenes sometimes drag out for far too long.
Sadly, this is just episode 1 so not every question is answered here. There is enough depth in the plot to make players want to play the rest of the season because a lot of the characters don’t appear as nice as they seem. Louis also has some visions of the future sometimes that are very revealing or dangerous.
As for The Council’s presentation, this is far from a pretty looking game despite me playing it on a PS4 Pro console. Aside from one character model, everyone else looks very ugly overall. It’s almost as if you are playing a game full of creepy looking puppets. The graphics are also very outdated with lots of jagged edges and washed out colors. The only saving grace is that the game’s mansion looks pretty cool with its old school architecture.
The other issue I had with the game is the main character’s voice actor. Despite Louis being a French person, for some reason they chose an American voice actor to play him. This is an odd choice considering the fact that Napoleon has a French accent and other characters from England also have their appropriate regional accents.
The Council – Episode 1: The Mad Ones is not a bad game overall, although it’s not a game that will appeal to everyone. The old-school setting and slow pace might be boring for some people while the bad graphics are kind of off-putting too. That said, the story is engaging enough to keep you interested in order to play the rest of the episodes in the near future.
[Editor’s Note: The Council – Episode 1: The Mad On was reviewed on the PS4 Pro platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]