Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Windows (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: Big Bad Wolf
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Episodic Adventure/RPG
Rating: Mature (17+)
Continuing where they left off, developer Big Bad Wolf impresses once again with episode 2 of the RPG narrative adventure “The Council”. This time a death has gripped the members of the high society council and it is up to you to investigate and find out who the culprit is and what their intentions were.
Playing through episode 2 and comparing it to the first episode you’ll find that, while episode 1 focused heavily on character interactions allowing the unique dialogue system to shine, episode 2 focuses more on puzzle solving, detective work and fetch quests.
You, as Louis de Richet, are a member of a secret order that had been invited to a private island where distinguished citizens of power from around the world gather to decide the fate of society and civilization, and are in search of your mother who has recently gone missing on the island. You can select your preference of paths in the first episode and you can build, unlock and upgrade via points, unlockables and by leveling up so that you can tweak Louis to your preferred play style as you go.
“Episode 2: Hide and Seek” has a completely different feel to it than the first episode and I’m not sure if it’s due to my play style of the episode in general. Whereas in the first episode there were at least a half dozen or so character confrontations, in episode 2 I only encountered one single encounter. While the puzzle-solving and investigative aspects of this episode were fun and challenging unto their own, the lack of the confrontations made the game feel more like every other point and click or third-person adventure game out there.
Most of the effort point use…the tallies that you gain to perform certain tasks…went towards trying to balance the importance of what I should look into further while performing my investigation. Even with the amount of effort point slots that I accrued, I couldn’t come close to investigating every option available to me, which again could be planned that way on purpose by the developer, but having to rely on limited supplies of potions and elixirs scattered throughout the mansion made it feel like more of a chore to look into available skill options than it should be. I would rather skip an option than roam around aimlessly in hopes of finding something to give me a few more effort points just to look at an inconsequential clue.
Overlooking some of the minor flaws and nuisances in episode 2, the story which has now woven itself into a murder mystery involving significant historic figures, continues to be the selling point of “The Council”. While there were some aspects of the supernatural and macabre in the first episode, the second episode begins to set up more and more of those elements to the game which makes it all the more intriguing. The attention to detail and accuracy in regards to the various historical and mythological elements of the story add an extra layer of depth and intrigue to an already excellent story of both familiar and newly discovered characters.
While it feels like episode 2 takes a turn away from the much praised character interactions AKA combative talkedness in favor of more traditional video game sleuth work, the story still shines as it leaves you with a tough decision early on that will surely carry severe ramifications in later episodes. Some things are resolved and some are discovered in “Hide and Seek” as “The Council” continues to weave its web of political intrigue and alternative historical facts in order to set you up for the surprise cliffhanger at the end of the episode that leaves you waiting anxiously for the third episode which cannot come soon enough.