15th Mar2018

‘The Council: Episode 1 – The Mad Ones’ Review (Xbox One X)

by Paul Metcalf

the-council

I’m a fan of the many Telltale Games, and Life is Strange, but sometimes it feels like the choices made don’t really have enough of an effect. While this does not really ruin the story, it does lessen the danger of messing up your game. The Council: Episode 1 – The Mad Ones introduces us to a new concept though that may complicate things.

In The Council we play Louis de Richet who is a guest on a late 18th century island owned by a mysterious aristocrat known as Lord Mortimer. In search of our missing mother, we need to question a number of other guests on the island, made up of famous characters like George Washington and a young Napoleon Bonaparte.

What makes The Council stand out is the fact it adds RPG elements to a Telltale like game. It isn’t just a case that our actions will make a character “remember this”, but they can also lash out and scar us. This can raise suspicion with other characters too.

When we enter discussions with the characters, our abilities will be dependent on a character type that is decided at the start of the game. My choice was to pick The Occult trait which gave me powers of manipulation and knowledge of the darker arts. As progress is made in the game we gain new skills which can provide us with new ways to fool the other characters.

The fact that Louis’ mother is well-known to the group does give an edge in questioning but knowing the right tact to take with each character is important. We are also provided with choices related to the trait picked but using this comes at the cost of action points (which can be topped up). The fact that these points can be used up quickly means that using them wisely is imperative.

When playing The Council: Episode 1 – The Mad Ones, one thing I did find was that the questioning at first appearance did feel easy. What complicates things though is that the chance to interact with other characters is also made available, so once again you have to choose wisely as to who to question. The game doesn’t hide the impact of your choice, making to clear straight away that you have missed out on a possible interaction.

What this actually provides us as the player is a surprising feeling of danger to the game. Interactions have importance, and these characters that we meet have an impact on what will happen in the game. To further complicate things, Louis also has visions giving hints to future events. This of course leads to us having to make decisions once again that will cost us the chance to gain certain information.

While the story itself may leave a little to be desired in terms of real impact, what is impressive is the way the game makes each decision really count. There leads to the feeling that the episode will need to be replayed to get every option, and to know its impact. With the RPG traits also having an effect, there is also the ability to play with different choices, leading to more unlockable RPG abilities.

There is a lot of potential in The Council, and I for one look forward to seeing where the story will go. With interesting characters, there is potential for the story to improve as the game goes on, but what is more exciting is what RPG brings to the adventure game. Especially when The Council takes place in such a dangerous environment, the impact you feel to have is very refreshing in a genre that really needed it.

**** 4/5

The Council: Episode 1 – The Mad Ones is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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