The Council: Episode 4 – Burning Bridges (review)

Ever since playing the first episode of The Council, it’s all I have been thinking about. With Episode 3, it introduced a huge story twist and also expanded the mystery of Lord Mortimer. Each episode was perfectly paced and builds a certain momentum that subsequent chapters carry. It never felt as if the story was dragging or felt forced or out of place. It somehow manages to still feel engaging, no matter what tasks popped up, and that is one of its greatest strengths. But Episode 4 feels off, and it feels like it’s coming undone.

Mysteries Upon Mysteries

Each episode of The Council so far has never overplayed its hand. The game always felt as if your choices did actually matter. A bad meeting or social faux pas reverberated throughout the story with alliances and deception running rampant. The mysteries added this feeling of danger, and the game is great at it. You go into situations wondering how they’ll play out, often figuring some of it out as you go along. Every choice and conversation matter, so it seems as if you are in a huge game of espionage. After the end of Episode 3, your quest carried a lot more urgency. As you’re making your way through Mortimer’s manor, you really don’t know who to trust. Even your first conversation with another character is tense. You’re trying to probe them for information but not trying to spill too much yourself. The Council does this masterfully, and at this moment, it feels like everything is at stake.

But the feeling quickly dissipates with episode 4. You take on what boils down to a boring fetch quest, and then it feels like it doesn’t matter that much anymore. The momentum grinded to a halt. This episode effectively takes away all the immediacy and anxiousness. It is incredibly disappointing because at this point, you felt fully invested in the story. The tension dips, and the episode couldn’t carry any of the weight the previous ones did.

A Prisoner in Paradise

For the past 3 episodes, you’re pretty familiar with the layout of the manor. It is so large that it gives off the feeling of being in a maze. This was what made the story work so well due to the manor packing various characters, giving it life. Even when a character is off-screen, their presence emanates.

In Episode 4 the manor feels deserted, and because of that, the world suddenly feels empty and boring. Two previous locations are suddenly inaccessible, and it leaves you feeling cheated. This just highlights other weakness. Navigating the manor used to feel like an exploration, but now it just leaves you feeling bored. The game has never suffered from lulls this big, so it is baffling why it’s happening now.

Even the quest itself feels like a massive undertaking that changes the scope of the game. The Council stumbles through it, and it barely manages to make it interesting. Following the last episode’s puzzle, it feels tame. You can make the wrong decision, but it doesn’t carry with it the same immediate and long-term consequences.

Final Reaction

I came into this episode with very high hopes of what will happen next. This episode shows that The Council is running out of steam quickly. It is certainly not impossible for the final episode to bridge everything back into a cohesive and satisfying end. I truly hope the conclusion picks up all the pieces and is a return to form for The Council.

Score: 2.5/5 Atoms

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