The Council Episode 1: Mad Ones Review(PS4)
What mystery lies ahead?
The Council is a episodic narrative driven adventure game developed by Big Bad Wolf Studio and published by Focus Home Interactive.
The Council takes place in the year 1793. You take the role of the highly regarded Luis De Richet as you navigate through an adventure narrative story of twists and turns to uncover the mystery of your missing mother and unravel the secrets of Lord Moritmer and his private island.
Have you played a Telltale,Life Is Strange or a game like Heavy Rain and Until Dawn at all in your life time? If the answer to any of those games above is a yes,then you have an idea of what you're getting into with The Council on PS4. However, what this game does,it does it so much better than the games I just named.
While playing Episode 1 of The Council, I noticed a common theme that was taking place during my play through of it and it is something that these narrative driven games rarely actually do as promised... and that is consequences for your actions and every decision you make DOES in fact change the out come of your specific story scenario.
The game controls from a third person perspective and you must interact with the environment to find clues and items hidden around each area that will give you clues about the island you're on or provide you with a valuable items such as a key or books that provide knowledge that you will be able to use in the future.
It is crucial that with each area you enter,that you EXPLORE, I can not stress this enough. Exploring each area you come to and interacting with the environment to find clues and other hidden mysteries will not only help you unlock pieces of the narrative driven story that will help you unravel the mystery, but it will also give you intel about guests you will interact with. This is key for future dialogue you have with guests at the island mansion.
In speaking of guests, you will come across many different personalities that you will have to try to decipher and figure out what their true motives are. From a vixen of a duchess,a holy man from Rome and even the President Of The United States himself,George Washington. All who'm have a distinct connection to Lord Mortimer,The Council Of Order and all of who have something to gain and something to hide.
As I mentioned earlier,what sets this game apart from games like Heavy Rain,Life Is Strange or Until Dawn is for once in a narrative driven game, it feels like your choices really do matter. Not only do they matter, but they offer a variety of ways to complete said choices that these other games do not offer you,such as a skill tree. While skill trees aren't relatively new at all, they do offer a good sense of immersion for a story such as this one.
For instance, let's say you're talking to the duchess about a certain subject, but you cannot trick her out right because she's no dummy. Well this is where your skill play will come into use. You will be able to choose between 3 different categories,all of them can be leveled up and acquired as you gain experience points. Categories have such skills as more knowledge of occultism,manipulation,Science,Logic and so forth. Every single one of these is used at one point in the story.
Each skill when used effectively will prove extremely valuable in determining who's lying or when you have to manipulate someone to save yourself or for your own personal cause. But you must be very careful and pick wisely because each character has a different personality,a personal trait, will become hostile or react differently than another character.
If you're caught in a bind and a tough situation, this is where Effort Points come into play. You get a total of 7 Effort Points to use at your disposal. Certain actions in your skill tree will require effort points in order for the skill to be used during a dialogue situation. This will determine how much information you get or how badly a situation will go. Each skill can use roughly 2-3 effort points per use, so manage them wisely. If you are running low, search nearby area's to find Royal Jelly's which will refuel 2 effort point bars.
Paying attention to to detail is a big part of the game that you will come to learn fast. What might seem like idle chat with one character, will actually mean something huge or be a life saver later on down the road. Always remember the little things each character says such as names,items or places and monitor their clothing for other clues to tell if they're lying or if there's a secret hiding within an emblem or necklace they're wearing.
Besides everything I mentioned above, one of the things to remember is this is a ''who done it'' type of game. Always play the game as if you're a detective and trying to solve a big mystery because that's the way the game is truly meant to be played. Never stop thinking and allow yourself to get immersed in the dark and eerie atmosphere that it offers you.
The graphics in this game are rather good I should say. Very polished and the mansion and island look extremely detailed. Everything from the lighting and scenery are done in a splendid way and matches what you'd come to expect from the 1790's era.
However If I did have to offer a complaint in regards to the graphics in this game, It would have to be a knock against the character models themselves. While the game design for environments and everything is spot on, the character's themselves dont really seem to fit. They're done in a very wonky way and the facial animations during some of the scenes look very stiff and just outright awkward to look at. Nothing game breaking but there definitely could've been some improvement to it.
I'll start off by saying one play through of this episode is just not enough. If I had to go out on a limb, I would say to get the full grasp of everything this episode has to offer it would take you at least 4-5 different play throughs to experience fully what the developers intended you to see and feel.
Different skills you unlock,different dialogue trees you take,who you interact with and what you say to them tweaks the story just enough to where nearly every play through something different will happen in the story. The Council will require you to play through it multiple times to see what you missed,who's hiding what and what secrets lay dormant that you might've missed that might help you in future episodes that are to be released.
I tried not to get too much into the spoiler territory in this review of Episode 1 because this is type of narrative that deserves to be experienced to the fullest without knowing the twists and turns of what to expect. The immersion this game manages to give off to the player and with how the game is extremely well executed with the use of multiple paths to choose from,skill trees to,good ol detective work, makes this game something you nee to play and experience first hand yourself and not from anyone else.
Besides the wonky,awkward and stiff character facial animations, if you look past that, you will find an extremely entertaining,eerie,dark and mysterious story that I cannot wait to see continue in the next 4 episodes to come.
Give this game a go! I'ts definitely worth a shot!
The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones is out now on Playstation 4
*Review code provided by Focus Home Interactive