When I first heard about the game The Council, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Its very premise seems pretty mysterious. I’m also kind of over narrative episodic games, having become a little burned out on them after playing one TellTale Games title after another.
So my expectations for episode one of The Council were low, and yet, the game not only managed to suck me in, but now has me chomping at the bit for the next episode.
So how did it do that?
Let’s start with the story of The Council. It’s a tale about a man, Louis de Richet, whose mother has gone missing. But here is where things get interesting: this man and his mother belong to a secret society, the Golden Order, that investigates (and often debunks) dealings with the occult. So the man must go to a remote island to an event organized by the mysterious Lord Mortimer, because that’s the place anyone ever saw Louis’ mother alive.
The tale then becomes so much more: also attending this event are important cultural, political and artistic figures, including Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington. And, of course, they, too have their secrets to keep. The goal of the game is to figure out some of those secrets to gain more information about the missing mother.
What works so well in The Council, though, is that gameplay is part of the story. And it’s taken the concept of narrative adventure one step further. Yes, the dialogue one chooses throughout the game affects what happens later on, but there are also RPG elements, where skills attained (along with a chosen profession of sorts) affect what dialogue choices are actually available. But there are also potions that allow you get extra points for those dialogue choices, as well as to help you notice things you might not have noticed otherwise.
Things get even more interesting because there is, literally, battles of the wits. This takes gameplay into something that is more like a verbal arena. You use your dialogue choices to affect another person in the game to give up what they know about something. You can fail one or two times, but you only get a certain number of tries to extract the information you need.
It might seem complicated in my attempt to describe it, but it works so beautifully well and this concept breathes new life into the narrative game concept. It is both a narrative game and an RPG, but there is also combat, although the combat is with words.
Visuals and Sound
There is nothing extraordinary about the sound of the game, but the voice acting is really good. The voice of the mother feels a little off, but the rest of the characters are done really well. It’s not easy recreating the voices of George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte, but in The Council, those two voices are very believable. There are also some audio clues that help in discovering actual clues or items that Louis can interact with throughout his journey, too.
The art style used to animate the game is not too shabby either. The animation seems to glitch occasionally, but that’s nothing that a future patch can’t fix.
The Council really surprised me. I expected another boring narrative adventure, but what I got was a game I can’t wait to play more of (which is my real problem with episodic games). I really do want to know what happens next and I look forward to continuing to uncover the mysteries of the island and the missing mother.
Rating: (4 / 5)
Note: FanGirlConfessions.com received a review copy of episode one of The Council for PlayStation 4.