Episode 3 of the quirky political mystery The Council thankfully hits a much better pace and tone than the previous. I feel the first episode was lacking in many ways, but was cushioned by introducing the game’s interesting concepts and mechanics – namely its RPG leanings and teasing of a plethora of multiple choices and paths. Whereas the second episode still felt like it was running up to something, not offering much in the way of plot turns or even enjoyable interaction. Episode 3, however, hits the nail in almost all the ways the previous lacked – allowing us to utilise the various upgradeable skills in more ‘opportunties’ and dialogue events, as well as progressing the story and revealing more of the intriguing things we came for (and were left wondering about up until now – like a good explanation on what this political gathering actually does).

The episode kicks off immediately after the previous ends. Louis has just discovered a dead body in the under passages of the garden while following closely on his missing mother’s trail. Was she responsible for this? And will Louis be blamed as he nearly was with the previous mysterious murder? Well, thankfully for him good ol’ George Washington is the first and only person to arrive on the scene, and he encourages Louis to not even mention the issue to anyone, ushering you to attend the imminent meeting of all the players to start discussing business. Will this come back to bite him in the ass though? We will have to find out.

The meeting that follows is a good example of where this episode has improved. A mass discussion that provides context on what all these political figures are here for, and multiple chances to use your skills in the dialogue that follows. Of course, depending on what skills you have will decide how successful you are concerning certain areas (politics, psychology and so on) and this is the first episode where I have felt that something actually hangs on your choices. This means that you pay more attention to character vulnerabilities and immunities, and use your various potions more wisely, allowing you to properly enjoy the mechanics it’s spent the first two episodes introducing to you.

This area still isn’t exceptional – the episode, again, is very short, thus not allowing for many opportunities to explore the gameplay – but it is an improvement. Similarly there’s also another puzzle to decipher. This time a little easier on the brain, but it gives you a chance to go back and explore some of the briefly visited areas of the mansion again – trying to find objects mentioned in a cryptic note.

But where the episode really shine is in its narrative progression and plot twists. This is likely to also be a contentious area, as things get a little bit silly, but some of the questions from the previous two episodes are beginning to be answered, and yet more crazy questions are initiated. The plot thickens, as it were.

Unfortunately, this episode also comes with a few gnarly problems. There’s some major lip synch issues towards the beginning of the episode – in some cases their mouths just not opening at all – and the dodgy animation and textures continue. I also became frustrated at the idea of unlocking boxes to reveal potions that I couldn’t pick up. The big problem here is that these resources are finite, however you may reach the maximum capacity of one of them if you haven’t encountered a problem that required its use in a while. But the various locked boxes spread around the mansion may or may not contain those potions (you have no way of telling what they contain) and if you open them and have no space, the potions are lost forever.

For a start, it’s an issue that doesn’t make a lot of sense – why would they disappear? – but it also puts you in an awkward position. You don’t know if you’ll be back to that area soon or what you will face in the next section, so end up risking being without a good amount of your other potions and also losing a potential future restock for good. It’s frustrating.

This aside, The Council Episode 3 set me at ease after the disappointing second episode. Things are starting to kick off narratively speaking, and the gameplay mechanics that all the reviewers and writers were so interested in during the game’s pre-release marketing (including myself) are actually showing what they can offer. I still haven’t seen any significant repercussions of my actions yet, however after the ending of Episode 3 (no spoilers) this seems very likely to start up in Episode 4.



Author

John Little
John Little

I started gaming with the release of the PS1 - Crash Bandicoot and Ridge Racer Revolution being the first 'real' games I ever set eyes on - and have been enthralled with the medium ever since. I particularly love strategy and horror games, the sort offered by titles such as Total War and Silent Hill, though I also have a soft spot for a good RPG. I studied Journalism at university in the hopes of progressing into writing about games, but my 'real job' is as a postman. You'll most likely find me covering indie games as I'm always on the look out for interesting little titles, and generally I stick to the PC and PS4 platforms. I'm not interested in MMOs or really any kind of online game, and I have an unusual and frankly worryingly expensive obsession with collecting gaming guide books, but aside from that I like to think I'm a well rounded average gamer. Find me on twitter @JohnLittle29