The Council is the first game to come from the minds of Big Bad Wolf, an indie company based in France. An episodic narrative adventure in the same vein as Telltale’s various games, you play as Louis De Richet, who has been summoned to a mysterious island mansion to find his missing mother, encountering mysteries and betrayal along the way.
Louis is the heir apparent of the Golden Order, an Illuminati-like order spread all over the globe that has untold power and influence over anything and everything. On the island you’ll meet and work with fellow members and non-members to uncover both your mother’s location and the mysteries surrounding its owner, Lord Mortimer.
By snooping around in their rooms or by talking to people, you can uncover the various immunities and vulnerabilities that each person has. Napoleon for example is immune to politics, while the many servants around the house can be manipulated with logic. These skills used in discussions stem from the three different classes that the game lets you choose from. The detective class uses logic and reasoning, the scientist specialises in manipulation and the occult, while the diplomat is the master of defusing hostile confrontations, politics, and well versed in foreign languages.
Fortunately the skills are not locked out if you choose another class, they just cost more skill points to level up, this way you are not forced to go through three different playthroughs to see how each class fares. Books can be found placed throughout the various locales to boost skills even further. Restorative items are also just waiting to be found, allowing you to restore your Effort Points or extend the opportunity timer even further. Be wary though as taking more than five in one chapter can intoxicate you, leaving you unable to see the aforementioned timer. Other negative effects will also affect how many Effort Points you use, unless you have the right item to cure it.
Some of the various people you encounter are well known historical figures such as George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte. Others are fictional, created for the game, but you wouldn’t notice at first because of how everyone interacts with each other. Napoleon pulls you to one side to express his concerns about the future of France, Washington is the Grand Master of the American branch and offers his help, just to list some examples. A few of them will hate you on sight and begrudgingly talk to you, others will help you without hesitation. The most important thing to remember is to be suspicious of everyone, even if they appear friendly.
Choices matter, as per your usual episodic narrative adventure. During my playthrough, I offered to help Washington and stood up for someone else whose room he was investigating, instead of them staying and thanking me, they ran off to their room, cutting his investigation short. Needless to say, he was able to get the basic info he needed but unhappy he did not have more time. Another character gave me a letter addressed to Louis’ mother, but because I was her son, I took it upon myself to read it, he was not pleased. At the end of each chapter, the game will inform you of any alternative paths you could have taken, giving you hints for future playthroughs.
The game is not without its issues though. During my time playing the first episode, my GPU usage was at a constant 100%, nothing I did fixed this issue. Bizarrely, the game would run smoothly outside of conversations, but during conversations it was dreadful, going from as high as 70/80fps to lower than 20fps at times. Other problems included lip sync issues, stiff-looking animations and the lifeless eyes that other characters seemed to have, certain people looked more like they were looking past you than at you.
Regardless, The Council has a good story. If you can look past the various issues it has, and hopefully the developers fix them soon enough, then it is a decent 3-4 hour session that will leave you wanting more. Just who is Lord Mortimer and why does he have such rare and supposedly mythical items in his mansion? Why does he live on a massive island with just himself and a few servants?
- Intriguing story that pulls you in
- Well developed characters
- Multiple ways to play out scenarios
- Stiff animations at times
- Audio sync issues
- Poorly optimised, devours GPU usage
- Lifeless stares, somewhat uncanny valley feel