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The COUNCIL is one of the most unusual, if not the actual most unusual, point and click adventure story that I have ever encountered. I have played a lot of point and click games, some of which have been excellent, some good and some going through the motions, but the COUNCIL is none of those adjectives, it is beyond them. There are elements of Agatha Christie's novel "And then there were none" (I know that isn't the actual title but the first and reprint titles are nbow considered offensive) with a number of people arriving on a private island for various reasons. You are playing Louis Mauras de Richet in 1793 England, and you are on the island of Lord Mortimer where your mother, Sarah Faustine de Richet, disappeared from just two weeks ago. People on the island remember your mother but no one has any idea where she has vanished to or what has happened to her.

After the opening scenes it is up to you to decide which path to follow, not as in a rite of passage path but as to what Class you wanted to play: Diplomat, Occultist or Detective. Each of these comes with its own personal skill set which can be upgraded by doing the correct thing as progress through the story. The first main Chapter is The MAD ONES and part of your skills are to detect who is speaking truthfully (and when) and who is leading you around like a dog on a leash.

Although you can find these within the game I have listed here the main skill sets for each Class. I eventually chose the Diplomatic path because it is so different to how I normally would approach this type of story (Detective would be my regular choice to be honest).
DIPLOMAT: Politics. Etiquette. Linguistics. Convictions. Diversion.
OCCULTIST: Manipulation. Occultism. Erudition. Science. Subterfuges.
DETECTIVE: Questioning. Vigilance. Psychology. Agility. Logic.

You can upgrade these and gain more skills as you progress through the game. The CLASS that you choose will affect how the game plays and which directions are available to you. Your conversations with the Guests also influences the game and future conversations.

The Council

Louis Mauras de Richet (this is you) ​The son of  Sarah Faustine de Richet who is leader of the French branch of the Golden Order. 

George Washington: is the President of the United States of America and a Grandmaster in the Golden Order, which is why he wants to get you alone for a chat as soon as he can. He is also a politician who relies on information and may look to you to become a spy for him. 

   

Cardinal Giuseppe Piaggi: Works with the Golden Order to help save refugees. He seems a little too nice and creepily friendly, thus he may prove to be a major ally (or villain). 

Napoleon Bonaparte:  Young Napoleon  is a soldier and politician who needs help from the Golden Order so he can activate his vision for France. When you meet him you have one possible chance of him becoming your ally.

Duchess Emily Hillsborrow: Young and British, Emily is a sharp witted individual but delightfully eloquent. She is possibly Louis’ love interest unless he (you) like elderly or insane women.

Sir Gregory Holm: A member of the House of Lords and close friend to Lord Mortimer. In fact in this first Chapter he seems to do everything that the so far unseen Lord Mortimer should be doing.

   

Elizabeth Adams:  The true Elizabeth Adams was the still-born (1777) daughter of Vice-President John Adams. Another mystery you may wish to sell is why she is here, why is she so rough looking and why she is alive? 

Jacques Péru:  is another French guest , like Louis and Napoleon. He may be uneducated but he is also part of the revolution, perhaps. (there are a lot of people you can say "perhaps" about). He is out of his element amongst the other guests, ally or not ?

Johann Christoph von Wöllner:  is Prussian and an expert of the occult, rather similarly minded as Washington and Sarah de Richet.

Manuel Godoy: is from Spain. He is mentioned several times but like the host, William Alexander Mortimer, you are unlikely to meet him in this Chapter.

There are a couple of minor discrepancies in this otherwise brilliantly weird, eerie and clever adventure.
I am ashamed that I noticed it on Emily first, and this is the lack of body animation. The creators have given her a bosom of such proportion that 'Jordan' or 'Pamela Anderson' would be jealous, and with the garment style of the 1800's where breasts were pushed up until they almost fell out of the bodice holding them in, they should at least move a little when she does. The other characters also lack body animation but none quite so prominent as Emily.
Not too far into the game you have the option to stay and chat with Washington or follow Lord Holm into another room where food and drink await. Washington declares he has already eaten, Emily says she will stay with him, so you and the Cardinal follow Holm. When you get into the room there is a chatty cut scene, a chance to talk to both of them but no food or drink is in sight.

The servants are brilliantly creepy, they all wear the same uniform which includes a horrifying supernatural mask.

Throughout the game (first Chapter) you have encounters with most of the above characters. When in conversation (confrontation) with them you are given various possible answers to choose from, depending on your skill level and which skills you have. If you do not have the required skill set then the answers requiring the skills you do not have are greyed out and cannot be selected. This can lead to you making errors or cause you to outguess yourself. You have three Misses allowed per specific confrontation. If you give enough correct answers you gain a Success, but if you miss three times you fail miserably and lose out on more clues.

Another way you can gain clues is by being quick on the controller when one or more of the Square, X, Circle or Triangle appear onscreen. You have very little time to react - the timing bar fairly zips across the bottom of the screen. I missed so many of these because a) there is no clue when they are going to appear, b) my eye-hand coordination is not as good as it used to be and c) they often occurred when I was taking notes and I couldn't drop the pen and paper quick enough to react (after a couple of misses this way I didn't try any more because I reasoned if I am not fast enough to react when I have the controller in my hand I have no chance while holding pen and paper - see I can make decisions sometimes).

As a bit of a joke on your first night on the island in the castle, the others bid you "Goodnight" and walk off to their stately bedrooms. No one has bothered to tell you where your room is and even though you have obtained a map your room is not marked on it. On the way round the hallways I located several coins and some Royal Jelly (which is useful for healing). In all parts of the adventure when you are moving you should keep an eye open for small twinkling blue lights. If you find one and get close enough the light changes to a 'search' icon and you can click the cursor to discover what is there. Mostly you find more coins or odd stuff but occasionally a true clue is uncovered.

  

Of course I managed to choose left instead of right, or right instead of left, I cannot remember which except that I had to walk all the way around the second floor checking every name-plate outside of every room. Eventually I was almost back when I started and I located my room. Inside it was like a museum. The walls covered in 18th Century and before fabulous art in huge goldleaf frames, amazing carpets, wonderful furniture etc. My Stateroom was opulence upon opulence.

  

I hate to say this because it has been said so many times, but if you are into Point-and-Click Adventures this really is one you should consider. I read this next part on the internet; apparently there is more than one possible ending to the Chapter, at least four I believe. I haven't reached one of them yet but I intend to very soon. In the meantime I had to stop playing for just enough time so I could relate just how good this game is before I return to it.

Like many point and clicks there are several long sequences where all you can do is sit and listen and sometimes this becomes a yawn. In The COUNCIL listening is definitely of value to your possibilities of success. The less you listen the more clues you miss. Check everywhere that you can think of for the little blue lights and then check everywhere you can't think of. Now I am off to complete this Chapter.  If the following Chapters are even half as good as the first then players of The COUNCIL are in for an incredibly mysterious and macabre adventure.

Also you may get frustrated about solving some of the puzzles. One for example springs to mind. You find a note written by your mother, in an expensive 'unique edition' book that you realise has been written in lemon juice. Most people know that you need to warm up the writing with a flame, being careful not to burn the paper, to make it legible. Looking around you see plenty of lighted candles but they cannot be used, you have to find the correct lit candle. Once you find it you pick it up, still burning its flame brightly, and put it in your inside pocket, taking it out later still lighted without even scorching your clothes. At this point in the game you (not the character) may start questioning why you (the character) are still searching for your mother. She not only writes in extremely valuable books but the more you find out about her she sounds distastefully evil.

Time and again you are asked a question or given some information and then a timer runs down fast giving you very little chance to select your answer - it then tells you an opportunity has been missed. The problem I find is that quite often the background of the screen makes reading the possible answers virtually impossible so it can be just a guess which button to click, if you are quick enough to click one at all. So often the timer ran out while I was trying to read the answers. Thankfully missing an upgrade only slows your skills gaining down a little and doesn't impact enough on the game to spoil it.

Play The Council Episode 3: Ripples right now with the Season Pass and the Complete Season 

The stakes continue to rise, and Louis must decide where he stands. Complete Season and Season Pass holders play today, full release on July 26.

The third episode of The Council, the narrative adventure game redefining the genre with RPG mechanics and consequences for every choice, releases today for all Complete Season and Season Pass owners. Episode 3: Ripples continues the story of Louis de Richet as plots are laid bare, characters reach their breaking points, and an unexpected, terrifying truth is uncovered. It will take all of Louis’ influence to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.

The Council has already enthralled players and press alike with a deep and captivating story featuring intricate characters and smart writing. The innovative concept brings the genre beyond its boundaries and allows for meaningful choices with impactful consequences.

Who will you side with? Who can you trust? Your fate is still yours to make.

Ripples releases July 26 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Complete Season owners on Steam and consoles, and Season Pass owners on consoles can play Episode 3 now with a two day head start, as well as early access to all upcoming episodes. Note that Episode 1: The Mad Ones, is required to play Episode 3.

The Council Episode 3: Ripples, is available today on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

The Complete Season will include a total of five episodes, with new episodes releasing regularly in 2018.

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015