Ever since I first heard about Big Bad Wolf’s new episodic game The Council I was intrigued. The setting, the promise that not only will decisions matter, but that they will properly effect the outcome of the game and the introduction of RPG mechanics all sounded like positive directions for the adventure game genre.
I’m happy to report that in terms of the first episode, The Council delivers on all of it’s promises. The RPG mechanics are a seriously cool addition and fit perfectly for a game centered on investigation. During your exploration you will come across locked doors and boxes. These can only be unlocked if you have enough experience points in your subterfuge perk. Similarly, there’s perks for linguistics, allowing you to read clues in different languages.
Picking where to put your experience points can be a tricky business though. There’s also a bunch of perks that help you with conversations in the game. Questioning, psychology, manipulation and diversion can all be upgraded allowing you more branching conversation options that help you get information out of other characters.
All these actions have consequences in the form of effort points though. You only have so many energy points, but these can be topped up with collectibles called royal jelly’s, which sounds suspiciously like a street drug.
Another nice in game mechanic is the immunity and vulnerability you have to uncover for each of the AI characters. Once you know a persons vulnerability you can exploit that to advance conversations and get what you want from that character.
In terms of story it’s a strong start in episode one. Big Bad Wolf has successfully built an intriguing world and filled it with compelling characters that you want to interact with. There’s plenty of time in the four episodes remaining for it to fall apart, but it’s as promising a first episode of an adventure game as any I have ever played.
It’s pretty hard to find any negatives with this game so far, but I like to deliver both sides of the coin, so I would say there is the occasional strange animation and while some of the voice acting is superb, it goes both ways. The protagonists mother, Sarah De Richet looks about 65, yet appears to be voiced by a woman in her early 40’s.
The trophy list also gave me cause for concern. Not the trophies itself (It has a platinum, and one that will be easily obtained) but when you look at the list, you can achieve around 60% in episode one, and all that’s left is singular trophies for completing episodes 2, 3, 4 & 5 along with a few “Complete the XX quest”. This tells me that at the time the developers had to submit the trophies, they weren’t very far along with even episode two, leading me to fear we could see big delays between episodes. I did reach out to Big Bad Wolf who said they were on course to release every few months throughout 2018, so it’s only fair to take them at their word.
This is more of a compliment than a criticism, but I was taken out of the experience a little by the amount of times I replayed it. In these adventure games I normally like to just play once, make my decisions and own it. That’s my story. But in The Council, while every decision I made I was happy with, I was left so intrigued by the other possibilities that I have went back and replayed three times to see all different decisions and consequences. Because of this, so far I don’t feel like I am crafting my own story. I plan to play through again, pick my favourite decisions and try to stick with my gut going forward.
Overall, this is a must buy. If anything I have said in this review intrigues you, pick it up. It’s £5. You owe it to yourself to pick up episode one and see for yourself. It’s difficult to score this game, as so far all we have seen is episode one of five, but the ground work that’s been laid in the first episode has build the foundations of something that could be really special.
Review code provided by the developer. For a breakdown on our review score matrix, click here.