The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones – Review
Follow Genre: Episodic adventure, RPG
Developer: Big Bad Wolf
Publisher; Focus Home Interactive
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Tested on: PC

The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones – Review

Site Score
8.5
Good: Amazing story and superb ambiance, fun gameplay
Bad: Character graphics might feel a bit off
User Score
8.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Episodic games are getting more and more popular, for example the Telltale series. Here, the story is divided in several parts and you have to decide how the story is going to continue by picking certain answers. Depending on the choices, you’re getting a completely different narrative. With ‘The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones’, you’re getting into a brand-new tale where the truth seems concealed.

the council logo

Story

You’re teleported to the year 1793, where Louis de Richet is invited to a remote island to find his mother. Both are members of the Golden Order, so they know each other’s secrets and how difficult life can be when you’re serving an underground organization. It seems that his mother, Sarah de Richet, was on the verge of discovering something and didn’t inform even her son. Lord Mortimer, the owner of the island, always has prestigious parties and this time it isn’t any different. For example, President Washington and Napoleon are some of the guests you can bump into.

In this episode, you actually arrive on the island and mostly get to know the different guests and their possible connection to the disappearance. Depending on the choices you make, you discover different pieces of the puzzle and you’ll be able to get to know more about your mother and her past. As there are so many things you can do, you feel like you’re getting head-first into an amazing story, so be ready to be heartbroken about certain choices you must make.

The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones

Graphics

If you’re able to play the game on the highest graphical quality, you’re in for a treat. The environments and ambiance the game has will blow you away as everything is so detailed and nicely finished. What might tick you off a bit is that everything looks so lifelike and realistic, which is not the case for the characters. Even on the highest level, the physics don’t always seem right and the expressions and movements seem rather rigid. Eventually, you won’t be seeing these flaws anymore as the rest of the graphics will just stun you. Of course, if your computer can’t play this baby on a high level, then the textures, faces and surroundings will be less sharp but nevertheless it’ll still swipe you from your feet. The biggest issue for older computers might be that there could be lag now and then, especially during cutscenes.

Sound

As you’re mostly in the middle of conversations or just talking to yourself, everything is guided with voices. These really fit each character very well and the emotions are tangible in every sentence. The combination with the graphics really makes this game stand out. Of course, since you’re inside an episodic game where you’re heading head-first into a huge manor in the 18th century, it’s normal there isn’t much background music. To be fair, you won’t be missing this at all as the silence and the noises give you that on-edge feeling. Sometimes you’re on locations where you shouldn’t be and getting caught might lurk right around the corner, really making you tense.

The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones

Gameplay

The Council is an episodic game where you have to find the whereabouts of your mother and discover the truth. The basics of the game are rather simple. There are certain conversations where you need to reply with a certain answer (sometimes even within a specific time) and depending on this reply, the story progresses in a different way. Sometimes you must choose your path, missing certain other parts of the game. As Louis already cracked quite some cases, you have some tricks up your sleeves. After the introduction, you’re able to pick your class out of three options: Diplomat, Occultist and Detective. Some of these might seem a bit dodgy (not looking at you Occultist), but it gives you some nice perks for you to use during the game. For example, the Diplomat has political knowledge while the Detective has a more logical mind. Selecting a class does not mean you won’t be able to get these other skills, but they will just cost you more points to learn.

You can get these skill points by levelling up and the experience is given after each chapter of an episode. First you get to see what you were able to do, what failed and which events you’ve missed. Depending on what you found, answered or the path you took you will get more exp and more levels. It’s not only possible to obtain new skills but also to upgrade them so they don’t cost you any Effort Points. These points are useful during your conversation and investigation, as using special skills require effort. It is your choice if you select a standard answer or if you go for a special one. Of course, it does seem tempting to always use one of your skills but there are some catches. To begin with, each character has a specific personality, which also means they have vulnerabilities or immunities. If you use a skill that is a weakness, you will get one Effort Point back while being resistant will leave you exhausted and makes everything one point more expensive.

The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones

There is room to make mistakes though. There are four items you can find thorough the mansion, which will help you tremendously. Royal jelly will restore 2 Effort Points while Devil’s Thorn will show the immunities and vulnerabilities for one dialogue choice. When you’re exhausted, you can use Golden Elixir to cure this ailment and Carmelite Water will nullify all costs for all efforts. Do keep in mind that you can carry only five of each, so your supplies might get scarce rather fast if you use it too often.

Next to normal conversations, there are also confrontations. There are certain steps where you need to persuade the other person into doing something. At the last step, you must convince them without fail. If you do mess up, the last step is repeated until the blunders are depleted or you finally have the right answer. These confrontations are really important as they shape the story. In between certain events, there are opportunities where you can use your talents to find hidden details. This doesn’t cost any effort but helps you to understand the story. You only have a limited amount of time to do this, so keep your eyes on the screen at all times.

The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones

During your times on the island, you can also find hidden items like coins and amber. If you collect the latter four times, the amount of Effort Points will increase. Also, there are books and manuscripts scattered around, which you might take with you and read to gain permanent skill points.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for an episodic thriller with a new twist, The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones might be something to reconsider. The graphics and ambiance the game brings is great and the different gameplay elements really brings the psychological aspect to the game. You’ll be intrigued by the story, the progression and how it continues. Hopefully the second episode doesn’t take too long before it’s playable as we would love to continue the story of Louis de Richet.

The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones

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The Council Episode 1: The Mad Ones - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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1 Comment

  1. […] remote island and things tend to get spicy. For a more detailed description, be sure to check the review. In the second episode, called Hide and Seek, you need to deal with Lord Mortimer and other […]

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