When I played and reviewed The Council – Episode 1: The Mad Ones, I wasn’t sure what to think heading in. A historical mystery and narrative adventure a la the Walking Dead games? Occult symbols and George Washington? It all sounded crazy and incredibly interesting and by the close of the episode I was hooked. Let’s see if the second episode holds up the excellence of the first, and if my choices carry over in impactful ways.
Episode 2 does not slow down at all, with a quick synopsis trailer of your choices, and then right into the action. I finished the previous episode by choosing to try to help someone, and upon waking up the following morning Louis finds that she has also disappeared, just like his mother. Also, he’s finally treated with meeting Lord Mortimer, the patron of the island and mansion, and potentially the mastermind behind the entire mystery, and who immediately tasks him with solving this new disappearance.
The first act also ramps up the puzzle solving aspect quite a bit. While episode one had a few moments of using mythology to interpret a way through a locked room, or to move statues to find a hidden entrance, it was pretty easy to interpret the solution. This episode makes you work much harder to solve, as the first puzzle you are tasked with involves the biblical apostles, their writings, portraits of them, and notes hidden in a bible. Moving one of four statues around, even if you’re bumbling through and guessing, eventually can pay off. Finding a single bible verse in the multiple layers of choices? Quite a bit more daunting. I ended up consuming quite a bit of my elixirs to have enough points to solve various clues with Louis’ skills, but even then it took some real time and effort.
The confrontations continue to be a shining point as well, with the ability to use various characters’ weaknesses against them, and Louis’ skills to dig deeper into how much they know. I can’t stress enough how well this works in this setting especially, as it often feels that you’re playing on a very sharp edge with your dialog choices the only thing keeping a ritzy dinner party, or important meeting from going completely wrong.
I’m still finding the voice actor to be off-setting at times. Louis has grown on me since episode 1, and is far less jarring, but the French revolutionary soldier Jacques Peru? He looks and sounds like a brutish lout, but a very American accented one. I’m sure there was some consideration for the U.S. audience when it came time to pick voice actors, but with the huge amount of attention paid to other historical aspects, making people sound like they should would have been an easy fix.
The graphical issues that plagued the first episode do pop up here as well. While the manor, artwork, and all the background imagery is still gorgeous to look at, the faces of the various characters still suffer greatly from some uncanny valley moments. I noticed quite a few more syncing issues with the voice acting and the animation as well, along with the aforementioned accent issues.
Overall, while seemingly smaller in scope and in playtime, this episode opens up far more interaction and much harder puzzles. The bible quote/apostle mystery took quite a long time, and was truly difficult to suss out, making my eventual solution feel that much more impressive. The plot is still slowly unfolding, and I’ve got to find out where all these various pieces fit in the puzzle. While the graphics and voice issues seem more intense here, it’s still a minor quibble in an overall fine game.