The Council: Episode 3 (Xbox One) REVIEW – A Marked Improvement

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Developer: Big Bad Wolf
Publisher:
Focus Home Interactive
Platform(s):
PS4, Xbox One, PC
Review copy provided

This review is part of an ongoing series following The Council, where we review on an episode by episode basis. If you want to check out previous reviews and learn more about the game mechanics, check out the reviews for Episode 1 and Episode 2.

When the debut episode of The Council rocked up a few months ago, we were impressed by how much the game tried to reinvigorate the narrative adventure game, utilising RPG elements and skill trees to help aid you in your journey. It was an odd mix, but one with a lot of potential.

Unfortunately, the second episode didn’t grab our attention nearly as much as the first one, eschewing tense conversations with other characters and narrative revelations for obscure puzzles involving Bible verses. To say it didn’t work as well would be an understatement, and it left the third episode in a precarious position.

So how does Episode 3 – Ripples stack up? On the whole, the episode feels more like the best parts of the first episode, but it still retains some of the glitches that plagued the second instalment. Also, if you were sick of Bible verse puzzles last time around, buckle up: there’s another one to contend with here.

After discovering a dead body in the crypt underneath Lord Mortimer’s manor at the end of the last episode, Louis de Richet is (finally) summoned to the conference that all the world’s leaders were invited to in the first place. As you would imagine, the subject of the conference causes a divide between the attendees, as factions begin to take shape.

The Council

With those present unable to agree on anything, the conference is interrupted by a series of shocking actions and revelations, making the episode a much more exciting and enjoyable one than the plodding mess that was episode 2. Things actually happen this time around. With consequences too!

It feels like episode 3 is when we’ll see playthroughs really begin to diverge from one another, with at least 4 big choices/events taking place in this episode. It’s these choices that should make the final two episodes much more enjoyable as a result, so long as they limit puzzles to one Bible brainteaser an episode.

That being said, The Council is still rough around the edges when it comes to its presentation, graphics and optimisation. One particular moment had an in-game prompt appear as Spanish, despite everything else being in English. The game still stutters when loading into rooms, which can be a little jarring, and there are some cases when voices aren’t properly lip-synced. Of course by that, we mean the lips don’t even move.

In Elizabeth Adams’ bedroom, you access the balcony on the outside via a door at the end of the room, but if you try to get back into the same room, you end up stuck behind a bed with no way of escaping other than back out to the balcony. It’s not game or progression breaking, as you can still get from the balcony into other rooms and back into the main halls of the manor, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.

The CouncilOne of the more glaring issues regards the differences between the subtitles and the voice-over, with some pretty major changes that could lead to some confusion. During the puzzle that concludes the episode, you’re asked to find five items around the manor, but the voice-over asks for six. The voiceover also provides a different solution to a puzzle from a previous episode, which just makes matters more confusing.

Perhaps the oddest “glitch” occured when escaping the aftermath of a certain confrontation, only to find another character lying on the floor of a balcony. Curiously, you couldn’t interact with the character in any way, and Louis made no mention of the character’s presence in the scene, which suggests they weren’t supposed to be there in the first place.

Despite the many glitches and odd occurrences, Episode 3 of The Council is a return to what worked in the first episode, which only makes us more excited to see how the final two episodes conclude.

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