The Council – Episode 3: Ripples (review)

Going into episode 3, The Council has a lot to lose. Firstly it has to continue its strong story, then it has to keep the gameplay just as engaging as the previous two episodes. Needless to say, the game does this impressively. By avoiding the pitfalls of the third episode lull, the game not only manages to stay entertaining but pull off a huge twist.

The Story So Far

Episode 1 does a fantastic job of setting up the plot. Louis de Richet comes to the island of an eccentric philanthropist, Lord Mortimer, in search of his mother. He is introduced to a large cast of characters, all of whom are based on important historical figures. From George Washington to Napoleon Bonaparte, you can feel a sort of awe from interacting with them. As the story progresses, new mysteries unfold, and more people are added to the cast. For instance, in the first episode, Louis meets Elizabeth Adams, daughter of Vice President John Adams. The game doesn’t shy away from allowing you to be in control of the story either. While there are two major outcomes for each episode, the game still lets you know the various paths it can take. In my case, the first episode ends with Elizabeth Adams being murdered.

Then episode 2 begins with Louis investigating her murder. As he questions the other guests on the island, the mystery of her death and the game only deepen. Episode 2 concludes with Louis coming face to face with his mother, who from the looks of things, has gone through a rough time. So where does that leave things in episode 3?

Firstly, Louis has a brief conversation with his mother. This can play out a few different ways. After your conversation, you’re pulled back into a party with the other guests of the island. This section of the game is interesting because it relies a lot on the skills you’ve been developing throughout the first two episodes. From there it involves some puzzle solving and sleuthing to lead to the end of the episode.

The Council Truly Begins

The first two episodes work more as extended tutorials. They’re constantly causing you to think about the application of the skills you’ve unlocked so far. In my case I chose the Detective skill set and have been mostly building for that skill tree. But the game wants you to get the most out of every skill you have. Pouring skill points into questioning and diversion is smart, but what do you do when you face someone who has immunity in both. The RPG mechanics this game builds upon are phenomenal. Managing not only your skills but your limited inventory as well adds a new type of difficulty. Using items to give you a leg up on a current confrontation might work at the moment, but you could find yourself searching for items later.

The toolkit the game provides you with opens up a wide variety of play styles but you have to use them all intelligently.

Final Reaction

It goes without saying that The Council is a remarkable game. The story itself is worth replaying at least once, and the gameplay is fluid yet challenging. Episode 3 works a good point to showcase that the real game is just beginning. With two more episodes left, it feels as if anything can happen going forward.

Rating: 4/5 Atoms

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