The Council is a third-person RPG/Adventure by the developer team Big Bad Wolf. The game is set at the end of 1700 – a time rife with political intrigue, backstabbings, and societal change, basically a perfect setting for a game concerning world spanning conspiracies and secret organizations. And what a ride it was, for both good and bad!
You play as Louis de Richet, a man who, together with his mother is part of a secret order that seeks out occult artifacts, and act as some kind of police/shield against occult corruption. However, something goes amiss, and Louis’s mother disappears which eventually leads him, aka you, to the mysterious manor of Lord Mortimer, located high up on the cliffs on some distant island. The Council starts at the docks of this manor, and it isn’t long until you begin to meet the flavorful inhabitants of this island, with all that that entails. Right off the bat, the mystery is thick, and from here on I knew that I was in for a hell of a ride.
The game plays as an adventure game, with an RPG skill system, sprinkled with easy to brainstorming hard puzzles (some you are actually allowed to fail, with serious consequences). Don’t expect any fighting or anything else of that kind, every upgradable skill to learn is all focus on dialogue, manipulation, and skills of finding secrets, either from people or the environment.
The Council gives you great freedom to explore the manor and talk to people, but it’s often confined, or limited in a way, depending on which chapter you are on. Some are more restrictive than others. For the most part, this is no issue, but at times, you get locked out from certain talks that I would have found fitting for the current predicament. It’s a shame, but it’s understandable in a way, because the game has a ton of different paths to take, and most of your actions have direct consequences. Some minor, but also major ones, will even affect how you will look for the remainder of the game.
While the choice & consequence system of the game is fantastic, and while I found the story intriguing, it does come with problems, I guess it depends on your… “tolerance” level. I don’t want to say too much with the risk of spoiling stuff, but there are supernatural elements to the game, which was kinda obvious from the start, nevertheless, this aspect takes a huge part of the later game, and this can be a problem. Because around 70% of the game, this is a political conspiracy thriller and a good one at that, but then suddenly this aspect becomes the main thing of the narrative. I have to admit, I didn’t see it coming, even if the signs were there, and it took something away from the game for me.
I have nothing against the supernatural stuff since I love that kind of stuff, especially in a mystery setting, but I do think they took it a bit too far, even if the story seemingly seemed to be written with that in mind. Still, even with this aspect, the game, and storyline are good, mainly because of all the different narrative paths you can take.
Now to visuals and sound. I did find the visuals absolutely outstanding, the human models can be a bit of a hit or miss, at least in motion and human expressions, but the environmental design is superb. It’s a real treat walking around in the mansion and taking it all in, everything from the general architecture to the classical art all over the house. Sound and music are good, and the voice acting also does a good job, even if the “jankiness” from the visuals presents itself here too, but it isn’t something that drags down the immersion unless you are hypersensitive to budget voice acting.
Do I recommend it, even if the story somewhat collapses in on itself? Yes, as I said, it doesn’t exactly turn bad, it’s just very unexpected which changes the tone of the game a bit. If your tolerance level is high enough, you will find no issue with this, but others that want the story to remain somewhat grounded, so to say, might find this shift a little too much. It’s a unique game regardless, thick with atmosphere with late 1700 setting well realized through the visuals and sound that shouldn’t be missed, especially since you can pick up it fairly cheap nowadays on sales!
Thanks for reading.