The Council – Full Release:
You know those moments when you see a game’s visuals and you judge it solely on that and then change your mind once you start using the controller? We’ve all done it, and I also know that on most occasions we have to suck it up because it actually does match the initial disappointment. With The Council, I have to say I am genuinely surprised and it does hold your attention for a good while, but it isn’t without some silly little issues.
The story is very out there. This is not going to win any Oscar nominations or have you pining for a realistic drama, as this is a little off the chart in terms of realism. In actual fact, it feels like the start of a joke you would hear at a bar “You ever hear the one about the French American looking for his mother in a mansion filled with George Washington, Napoleon and a whole load of people associated with the occult?”
It is definitely up there with the Call of Cthulu in random weirdness in a videogame, but it is actually a decent little story to go with. You play as Louie de Richet, a young man who is looking for his mother on an island with a mansion at the top of it. As you progress you have to make choices, much like Mass Effect, which impact your own game as you head through it.
I have to admit The Council is very nice to play with. I saw this originally and assumed that, like most games from the Focus publishing sector, it would just be incredibly lame to go through and because of that it would make it much less of an interesting title to put up with. I was wrong. It is a nice mix of exploration and adventuring. It is almost like a mixture of many different games. If you shoved Monkey Island, LA Noire, Mass Effect and the slight offset look of We Happy Few in some cases, ESPECIALLY when you see the amount of caked on face paint used in some areas, you have a rough idea.
There’s so much to grab, in terms of both in quest items and essentials to keep your extra chat options open.
The lovely thing that is different to most other games of this type is that you can build your abilities up over time via levelling up throughout the five chapters, which can also be done in whatever order you believe will be beneficial to you. The really good thing is that you can open up all abilities to at least level one early on, but it will take much more play to get things fully unlocked and costing you a lot less to use.
There’s a nice feel about it too, but you can tell there could be a little more work applied to make things a little smoother, but I’m gonna get to that now.
Presentation wise it does look nice, but it is such a mixed bag in many ways that it can’t really keep things consistent. So far, I’ve had beautiful graphics with some dodgy visual moments in-between, as well as a really bad moment where one of the chat options couldn’t be seen because the background was the same colour as the writing, so in a world where every right option is important, doesn’t help. In that instance I just left it alone and took a punt. Best way to be, rebellious and all that.
The voice work is ok, but nothing special, but thankfully the gameplay remains pretty solid and you can’t say fairer than that. It’s like Fallout fans when they talk about their beloved series. They will forgive some of those crazy moments because the rest of the game makes up for it. This is very similar.
Considering what you get for the money, I can’t complain in the slightest with “The Council“. It isn’t a groundbreaking title, by any means, but in a world where Telltale has met the sunset ending we never wanted to see, somebody else had to come in and take that place. The good thing for me personally is that is isn’t trying to stick to graphics that either match a style from the original source or be more cartoonish in appearance. I like it being serious and gritty. The interface is nice and the way it plays keeps me coming back. It surprised me, but in the best way possible. I don’t think it should ever be in the LA Noire “100 hour week” model to do it, but if Big Bad Wolf can get more time and financial backing for their next full project, I reckon they could blow the house down with what they create. What they have here though is solid and rather good fun to play.
Definitely worth a punt.