2018 will be remembered fondly by gamers thanks to the release of generation-defining games such God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and to a lesser extent Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Monster Hunter: World. However, in classic fashion none of the aforementioned blockbusters took home my coveted GOTY award. Instead that honour went to a AA banger from Focus Home Interactive and Big Bad Wolf: The Council.
If this is your first time hearing about The Council let me give you a primer. The Council is an episodic narrative adventure with RPG elements set inside an intriguing historical world where famous historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington are part of a secret society known as The Golden Order. Playing as Louis de Richet, players will investigate the private island of Lord Mortimer – the leader of The Golden Order – where your mother has gone missing. What makes The Council unique is the game’s emphasis on dialogue – so much so that the RPG elements are built around your dialogue skills. Conversing with other characters makes up the bulk of the gameplay, with puzzle-solving and exploration also key ingredients, but ultimately your success or failure in conversation, and the choices you make, will shape the course of your journey.
When engaging with another character, Louis will have dialogue choices to choose from, some of these will be reliant on having that skill or level of skill (such as Charisma or Science), and not having that skill will mean you will have to pursue other angles to get the outcome you need. It all comes to a head during the game’s ‘Confrontations’, which are essentially dialogue-based boss fights – fail these and the direction of your game will change. For example, in one of my playthroughs I had to get Napoleon to trust me, something I failed to do and as a result he refused to divulge any juicy secrets to me thereafter. Bastard. Skills aren’t just for discourse though, as having the right spread of skills can help you when it comes to picking locks and whatnot. It all depends on how you want to play the game. I decided to test just how deep the choices altered your path and after playing through Episode 1 two different ways with two wildly different outcomes I was convinced.
In short it’s a mix of Sherlock Holmes, Choose Your Own Adventure, and old-school point and click games where you need to explore every nook and cranny. If this sounds like something that would be up your alley I implore you to at the very least tackle the first episode The Mad Ones, which is FREE on the PSN right now. If that does the trick you can grab all four remaining episodes for A$2.95 each (US$2.09) on the PSN. The sale does finish on May 28, 8:59am AEST, so get in quick. If physical is more your thing, EB Games has a Complete Edition for A$49.95.
If you want to know more, you can check out my episode reviews below (just click on the episode image) or my attempt a walkthrough further below.