The Council is trying to muscle into a genre which is dominated by all the Telltale Games series’, so this game has to be incredible to even have any chance of success.
The game opens with the protagonist, Louis de Richet, and his mother in a spot of bother after being kidnapped. The opening involved the first big choice that may come back around to haunt you later on, which was whether or not you trust your mother to deal with your kidnapper, or if you would try and take him on yourself.
You are then taken to an isolated island off the coast of England to the home of the mysterious Lord Mortimer, from whom Louis received an invitation. Once there, you are then introduced to the other guests who all have their own reasons for being invited. The most shocking guest had to be the first President of the USA, George Washington. The aim of the first episode is to find out what happened to your mother as she as disappeared without a trace, and all the guests have a secret agenda and are all harbouring their own reasons as to why they might be guilty.
The unique selling point of this episodic game is the way you manipulate all the other NPCs in the world. You have to try and suss out the weaknesses in their personalities to gain the upper hand in the conversations. If you do this right, then you will get the information you want. There are also conversations where you have to convince a character to give you some important document that is integral to finding out what happened to your mother. Another surprise inclusion are the visions that Louis suffers at specific points in the episode. These visions are reminiscent of that Treehouse of Horrors episode of the Simpsons where Ned Flanders could touch someone and foretell how they would die. It will be interesting to see how they use this feature in future episodes of The Council.
The game is visually stunning on the PS4 Pro with all the characters rendered in such superb detail, it is quite incredible. The locations are also beautiful as well and definitely gives you the feeling that you are really there.
The game can be a bit slow in the middle part of the episode while you go around talking to the other guests to get an idea of what is going on, but this is expected in an opening episode, so it can be excused. You have to pick a style of character for Louis to become. This allows you to have different dialogue options as well, which can help in the convincing of the NPCs. Using the skills though costs energy, so you have to search around the level to find consumables to regain the lost energy. The ones scattered around the docks include royal jelly, which shows the class of the characters you are dealing with in this game.
This is a superb opening episode to what could be a really special series. The mystery of your mother’s disappearance is incredibly intriguing, especially with the visions of the player character, although Louis is possibly the most English-sounding Frenchman you will ever find. There is definitely room for another episodic game out there outside of the Telltale games. The Council is definitely one to watch out for in the future.
Developer: Cyanide Studio, Big Bad Wolf
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 13th March 2018