Narrative adventure games have taken off since the launch of the Telltale games several years ago. Suddenly not being completely in control of your character took a backseat to a great narrative. Games like The Walking Dead, and Life is Strange have almost a cult like following, and with good cause. However, The Council, from indie developer Big Bad Wolf Studios, takes the narrative adventure game a step further, adding an amount of RPG elements to it.
The Council is an episodic game that puts you in the year 1793. You’re in charge of secret society member Louis de Richet. He was invited to a high-profile party on a private island, after his mother, and fellow secret society member goes missing. So obviously, you need to go and investigate this.
The party, which is held by the mysterious Lord Mortimer, plays host to a number of high profile characters, including some familiar faces from history, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, and President George Washington. Both men have apparently some part to play in the story to come.
The role playing game aspects of The Council come into play almost right off the bat. You are given a choice of three talent trees that you are able to start into. Each of these will have different effects on conversations, giving you different paths to go down. For example, some of the options allow you a better knowledge of literature, which allow you to speak more on those subjects and make references. Others give you a better understanding of mythology, or logic.
The choices are difficult as they all seem extremely viable the first time you are shown them, but going with one path does not stop you from putting skill points into other trees. However whichever tree you select, starts out at a higher level than the others. While at first the decision seems extremely difficult, it soon becomes clear that there really is no wrong path to take. Each of them is unique for the most part, and gives you different avenues to go down. This allows you to build your character the way you believe is best.
Each use of a particular skill will drain a bit of your “power” which is shown in small diamonds on your screen. You are able to refresh your power by picking up various consumable items, and are able to find various books, which give you a temporary boost to a particular skill. These books reset after each “quest” which is essentially a mini-chapter within the chapter.
The game itself is much more involved than just picking a conversation options and setting down the controller. The game requires you to stay alert, as conversation options will flash on the screen. Where you will have to move the cursor over a mouth, an item, a piece of clothing or a number of other things, which will open new dialogue paths. Each dialogue choice you makes feels like it can drastically change the path of the game.
While the gameplay itself is amazing, and it has some truly great aspects to it, there are two items that almost turned me off at first. But once I got over it, it improved the experience. The two tie together, and are not that mutually exclusive and that is the voice acting, and the facial graphics. The voice acting is inconsistent, and in some cases misses the mark. For example: your mother. She is an older gray haired woman, who does not sound the part. Rather an the older neighbor that you would help across the street, she sounds like the middle age mother who walks her dog through your neighborhood.
The second part of my complaint is with the facial graphics. It may just be the art style that I do not like, but there are some points in which the mouth of the person moves, but nothing else does. There is also a lack of blinking while characters are talking. In one instance I found a point in which the head was supposed to bob and nod like one does while talking. However instead, the head broke at a ninety degree angle. Instead of talking to the person, Louis went from speaking to the person i was facing, to deciding that the floor was much more interesting.
The Council is a new take on the up and coming narrative adventure genre that introduces talent tree building role playing game elements that turn a normal conversation into a boss battle. While it is lacking in the graphical department; the gameplay and story elements are more than enough to make up for it. The first episode of The Council, The Mad Ones is out now for Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC.