The hardest thing for any episodic game is to keep the momentum going from one episode to the next. This can be influenced by the duration between episodes as well as the pacing and writing of the subsequent episodes. After The Council’s excellent first episode I wondered whether the story could maintain its brilliant amalgam of mystery, intrigue and grandeur. Thankfully the answer is a resounding yes, with the game’s second episode Hide and Seek sucking me in further and ensuring that I’ll be counting down the days until the third episode.
Back on the trail
To give a brief recap, The Council is a third-person narrative-driven adventure game set in 1793, with players playing as Louis de Richet, a member of a secret society known as the Golden Order. De Richet has come to the island of Lord Mortimer in search of his mother, Sarah de Richet, who has gone missing in the area. Players progress by conversing with other characters by making dialogue choices that help Louis not only learn about the events that preceded Sarah’s disappearance but also about Lord Mortimer’s colourful and intriguing guests. Your choices will have lasting consequences on the game’s story, and the second episode gave me an opportunity to test this out. You can read our Episode 1 review here.
Picking up where you left off, Louis comes face-to-face with the man himself, Lord Mortimer, for the first time, which depending on your ending for episode one could mean a vastly different set of circumstances. In my case (my first playthrough anyhow), the circumstances couldn’t have been any worse (if you’ve watched my walkthrough you’ll know what I mean), and instead of probing the enigmatic lord about Sarah’s whereabouts I had to convince Mortimer and his guests of my innocence in one of the episode’s Confrontation sequences (major moments), which I thankfully did.
The man, the myth, the enigma
The narrative’s pacing is again excellent, with the mystery unfolding just enough to keep you hooked as you progress
From here your search continues, with Louis following the breadcrumbs left by his secretive mother, and while nibbling away at the trail Louis discovers that there’s a lot more to Lord Mortimer than meets the eye. The man appears to have a finger in every pie with his extensive range of interests including the study of science, art, politics, and the occult. Lord Mortimer is the original man of international mystery, and what role he has played in Sarah’s disappearance is unclear.
The narrative’s pacing is again excellent, with the mystery unfolding just enough to keep you hooked as you progress, and the game’s lush visuals are again on show, with Louis even venturing outside and exploring Mortimer’s opulent garden.
We also meet Lord Mortimer’s final guest, Duke Manuel Godoy from Spain, who kicks up a stink about happenings in France with another guest upon his arrival. It’s a heated exchange in which I was able to calm everyone down thanks to my savoir faire, which resulted in me getting in Godoy’s good books. Unlike Napoleon who hates me because I butchered our confrontation.
A garden fit for a lord
The game’s expertly crafted investigative gameplay was again on show, with several riddles and puzzles requiring an extensive amount of attention to detail and prowess. There is no hint system, but thankfully the information given is fair, and in some instances the answer is right in front of you, you’ve just got to be adept enough to put the pieces together.
However, it is here where Hide and Seek deviates from what made The Mad Ones episode so enthralling. Developers Big Bad Wolf have dialled back the game’s dialogue sequences, instead opting for more investigation and puzzle-solving. It makes sense given that the first episode was in some respects a meet and greet between Louis and the game’s cast. However, the confrontations and dialogue choices are where The Council excelled, thanks to the unique RPG mechanics. While it’s not a negative, it does scratch off some of the gilded sheen the first episode had applied.
Episode 2 is certainly a case of more investigating, less talking
The Council continues to be one the surprise releases of the year with another excellent episode. While straying ever so slightly from the first episode’s formula, Hide and Seek continues to build the intrigue surrounding the game’s premise, and its immersive and addictive narrative and setting demonstrates storytelling at its finest.
Reviewed on PC | Review code supplied by publisher