Written by: CaptHowdy
Let’s talk about The Council. I’d like to first preface this by stating that any potential players should take note that this review should be largely spoiler free in terms of the narrative, but I will be discussing the game mechanically in some detail.
Published by Focus Home Entertainment, who also brought us Fear The Wolves, and developed by Big Bad Wolf, is an episodic narrative that is part RPG, part detective mystery, and part adventure game that tries a bit too hard. I will definitely make mention that overall, I did enjoy my experience with The Council. However, I do ultimately find it hard to recommend.
Firstly, the execution of the plot is more jarring than anything else. At the start of the game, we are thrown immediately into a tense interrogation scene that does a wonderful job of highlighting the unfortunately mediocre acting and animation. Right away, I found myself distracted from trying to absorb what was happening due to some seriously awkward line delivery, and this did not cease throughout my time playing.
The narrative starts very strong, despite this. I did very much enjoy the overall effort of the writers and designers to offer us a world of secrecy, intrigue, manipulation, and politics. I have a soft spot for this sort of thing and the game really lays it on thick. The fault in the game’s execution of the plot, however, is a classic case of too many branches on a tiny tree. I found myself thrown in so many different directions that my primary directive at any given moment was very difficult to keep track of. Mechanically speaking, the way the game presents the RPG elements in the form of a skill free and job class system, I also unfortunately found myself unable to even complete certain objectives successfully because there was so much to keep track of. It should also be mentioned that the game’s “point” system, directly affecting whether or not you can complete certain tasks, is not explained very well in-game and I found myself trapped by using items too much to recover these points and progress conversations with other characters. I do not objectively fault the game for any of this, but it was simply not for me. All that said, if you enjoy a game that offers you a world where every character feels like a main character, and all of those characters demand your full attention, then you will enjoy the hell out of the execution.
I waver a bit on making any defining statements about this title because it has such a wonderful mix of quality and inferiority. I haven’t even mentioned in any length the amount of silly graphical glitches I encountered (like my socks clipping through my shoes) or the musical score that had me confused as to whether I was experiencing an adult drama or a cartoon. I very much appreciate the effort that Big Bad Wolf and the team put into giving us a unique setting and story, and a mix of intriguing gameplay styles. The game definitely offers some decent replayability which is one of the biggest strengths a narrative game can have, mostly attributed to the class system that The Council has borrowed from classic RPGs. One thing is for sure though — if the concept is intriguing to you, I think that this game is hard to objectively review, and you should give it a shot yourself. You’ll probably enjoy it.
Note: Game key for PC was provided by the developer. This had no bearing on our review.