Be sure to check out our review of Episode 1 – The Mad Ones!
The Council – Episode 1: The Mad Ones did a solid job of opening up the first act of this epsiodic, 18th-century murder-mystery series – and Episode 2: Hide and Seek opens immediately where the story abruptly concluded.
Just to refresh you, The Council is about a French man named Louis de Richet, and is set in the late 1700s. His mother, Sarah, has gone missing on a trip to visit a powerful man named Lord Mortimer. Mortimer has summoned Louis to a secret conference at the mansion on his private island; upon arrival de Richet finds himself in the company of wealthy aristocrats and powerful political figures such as George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte. The reasons for the meeting were unclear, and by the end of Episode 1, there still wasn’t a satisfying answer for why Mortimer called all of them together. Regardless, the Illuminati vibe was almost unshakable, and tension between the cast began to build.
The Council Episode 2: Hide and Seek finally starts to answer some of the mysteries about Mortimer and his island, as well as the disappearance of Louis’s mother. Naturally, it also creates just as many new questions as it answers, and ultimately concludes with yet another particularly thrilling cliffhanger. The developers of the series boasted that its plot would make the player decide on some crucial, story-changing moments, and Episode 2 starts to deliver a taste of that promise. Of course, I won’t spoil anything. I was simply intrigued that a few of my previous decisions were already making a dent in the plot, and a few more of these moments were included in the latest chapters.
I am personally quite satisfied that the second episode actually seems to deliver exactly what I asked for in my review of the Episode 1. Aside from revealing more of the details about the cast of characters, Episode 2 seems to focus more on exploring the mansion, collecting information and clues, solving puzzles, and sneaking around. There are fewer dialogue-heavy “Confrontations” with the other characters, but Louis spends a lot more time finding clues and solving riddles, particularly in the second and third chapters of Episode 2.
Since I chose to play as the Detective player type, I had a tougher time gathering information and hints to solve some of the tricky puzzles this time around. The skills for the Diplomat or Occultist would have made my experience easier, as things like Politics, Mythology, Linguistics, Science, and Subterfuge were more applicable to the situation at hand. My silver tongue skills and Logic were still useful, just not as crucial to success.
This is actually precisely what I hoped to see from future installments of The Council: game design that supported all three of its different play styles. I still managed to figure out the tricky sections, it just took quite a bit more time and a surprising amount of comprehension and critical thinking. Nevertheless it was highly satisfying to solve these challenges myself, and I even came away with a nice lesson in religious literature, Greek mythology, and 18th century politics.
Unfortunately, Episode 2 does little to change some of my previous complaints about the production values. For example, I noted that the dialogue was campy, the voice acting was inconsistent, and the facial/bodily animations were stiff and awkward. Most of these criticisms remain for this set of episodes, leading me to wonder if the slight cheesiness is intentional, or just the result of a small budget for voice actors.
Luckily, none of this kept me from being immersed by the environment or the plot. I just occasionally chuckled at the delivery of certain lines by de Richet, and couldn’t always take Napoleon seriously through his voice actor’s terrible attempt at a French accent. I will say that the visuals are slightly more impressive, perhaps because of the new areas you explore – namely Mortimer’s office, the art and trophy galleries, and the garden maze in the closing chapter. These were pretty breathtaking areas, especially with all of the classic art, sculptures, statues, and luxurious decor filling each room.
Now that I have finished Episode 2, I am pleased to say that I am completely intrigued by The Council, and I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds in Episode 3. The chapters in this episode took me just a few hours to complete, but I admittedly took more time to absorb my surroundings and figure out some of the puzzles. I hope to see more of this balance of play styles in the next installment, but especially more Confrontations, since they weren’t as common in Episode 2. I would like to see more of the impact of my decisions upon the plot and characters, especially regarding the geopolitical events occurring during Louis’s visit on Mortimer’s strange island. I am intrigued to learn even more about Lord Mortimer, and what he wants from Louis and Sarah de Richet. If Episode 1 was an appetizer, this was a small but tasty first course in a much larger, highly complicated meal…and I’m hungry for more.
The Council Episode 2
- The plot picks up quite a bit in Episode 2, and ends with an exciting cliffhanger
- The skills of all three unique play styles come in handy at some point
- Fewer "Confrontations," but far more exploring, collecting, and puzzle solving.
- The dialogue and voice acting are still pretty bad in most scenes