Before the time of Call of Duty existing and battle royale had never flooded all social platforms. Adventure games were the crème de la creme when it comes to video games, with such hits as Escape from Monkey Island, Grim Fandango and pretty much most of the stuff that came out of LucasArts or Tim Shaffer. Anyhow after the mid-90s, it became a rather niche genre in the late 90s to the early 2000s when FPS became hot property and adventure games didn’t look like a profitable venture for the triple AAA industry. Now, today thanks to Indie developers, Crowdfunding and Telltale’s The Walking Dead the adventure game genre has made a bit of a comeback, and now we have titles like Life is Strange, countless titles from Telltale before their sad demise, and from last year by Big Bad Wolf, The Council.
The Council takes place during the late 18th Century, with our main character Louis de Richet who is a member of The Golden Order (a secret society that deals with the occult). At the start of our adventure is tied up along with his mother as a result of nicking a book. Which after dealing with our captor swiftly, the action fast forwards a few months when Louis is summoned by Lord Mortimer to his personal manor on an island of the British Isles where his mother has gone missing at a secretive conference which contained some of the biggest names of the period like Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington. At first for the first episode or two, your main mission is to find your mother while also navigating the conference on her behalf. Before the second half, the game becomes more supernatural as it turns out that there are one or two parasitic spirits called demons that are also present at the conference that has been influencing world politics since its inception.
Without disclosing major spoilers to the best of my abilities, the story was good but not foolproof. I mean, for starters for a political conference that has a major say on how the world is running in surprised that even for Late 18th century political figures there are no aides or even personal staff with them. It looks more of a get together at some posh bastards holiday home, and while the supernatural element is nice it rather underwhelming in parts.
(Spoiler alert from here) Late into the game after learning about the existence of demons, it turns out you’re also a demon as well which comes with a few perks like mindreading and also possession. Which for a supernatural demon seems rather underwhelming. Also, the ending that I got was rather undramatic where after your dad Lord Mortimer, goes the full despot and in an undramatic struggle shank him with a spear and that’s the end of it with no sense of epilogue or any plans for further seasons. Which, I find a big shame because other than these niggles so to speak it was enjoyable to progress through the story and navigate through the conversations and puzzles that are thrown at you. Although, one complaint is the lack of a skip function as while I had to replay some parts, and rehearing conversations for the umpteenth time did get boring and tedious
Speaking of which the gameplay is much different from the likes of Telltale and its many multiple choices and “Whoever will remember this” blurted out for the smallest things like different opinions or disliking battle royale games, overall the game is 2/3ds adventure game and 1/3 RPG. Before you start off in the game you choose your backstory as a diplomat, Occultist, or a Detective which gives you all the skills in that class to start off with. As you progress through the game you gain experience points which you can acquire new skills and upgrade new ones.
The skills do have many benefits mainly in conversations with other people as each of the characters in the game will react differently to different skills that are utilized. Some that they will flat out see coming and others that you can influence them much easier. Although you can only use your skills very sparingly as it will use up your action points as you progress through the chapters and episodes. So, knowing what people’s weaknesses and strengths will be an invaluable asset. Which does make confrontations with the other characters hard but fun to get through.
In parts there are the branching narratives where you can make choices that do influence the story but it’s less often and while some are branching narrative choice others are a more “are you sure you want to do this?” which does make it nice and a good chance to double check if your making the right choices which if you get wrong will have consequences. The puzzles are challenging, arguably too challenging in parts where it doesn’t allow you to refer to the information easier and having to navigate through the navigation trees to rehear previous information which is a bit unintuitive. But they are challenging and does follow a sound logic to them.
There are consumables that can give you more action points, displays the other person strengths and weaknesses for a short time and much more which are to be used sparingly going from my experience, there are traits that you will pick up over time that will also help. In short a nice change of pace from the QTE and the conversation trees from Telltale games but not without their imperfections, and the RPG elements do work well with the adventure game genre.
Other stuff to mention – Graphically, I would say environment it looks rather stunning, as for the characters however they look odd, take Sir Gregory Holm who looks like he has been dabbling as Tony Montana about 200 years earlier with more makeup than it is possible to imagine. Everyone seems to have the Bethesda curse, as they all have the emotional spectrum of Tommy Wiseau. Worse is that it looks so unpolished. At times characters won’t move their lips as they are speaking, so many clipping issues to mention and framerate that chugs more slowly than a tortoise with flatulence, it’s bad.
To summarize, The Council is an adventure game that is worth trying, the story is enjoyable enough with its niggles that I had. The RPG elements to offer more of an incentive for replayability and do work well enough with the genre. Conversations are fun to navigate and the puzzles are enjoyable and logical but could be more helpful if you’re referring to previous information that could be vital. Though while the environments look lovely and the characters look fine even with the Bethesda curse. The clipping and the framerate that chugs more than I can do in a pub, this makes the overall product look unpolished game that could be a nice alternative if the other games like Life is Strange or telltale games aren’t cutting the mustard.
The Council is a fun adventure game with an enjoyable story, tricky puzzles and conversations that will make you slicker than most politicians these days. But with little niggles with the story. But puzzles that don’t allow you to refer to information easier. Unskippable dialogue and poor optimization which do dampen what is an interesting adventure game that is worth a try if you're looking for a different adventure game.
- Enjoyable story
- Conversations/puzzles that are challenging and enjoyable
- Beautiful environments
- Unskippable dialogue
- Difficult to refer to information that can help in some puzzles
- Poor optimization