The Council Episode 2: Hide and Seek
Developer(s): Big Bad Wolf Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, XBOX One
Reviewed On: PS4
Release Date(s): May 15th, 2018
Note: this is a review of Episode Two of ‘The Council’, so some minor spoilers are ahead for those who have yet to play Episode One. Check out the Episode One Review here.
Episode two of Big Bad Wolf Games’ The Council has arrived and doesn’t miss a beat. It picks up almost exactly where the first episode ended and your character, Louis de Richet, finally gets to meet the mysterious Lord Mortimer. Tasked with looking into the murder from the previous night, you find conversation quickly turning back to finding your mother, Sarah. This quickly gets ratcheted up and Lord Mortimer’s past, as well as his influence, come to the forefront.
The game manages to keep up the same frantic, “I must keep playing”, pace through all three chapters. Although it’s gotten a bit shorter, reduced from five chapters to three, there’s a good amount of density in terms of gameplay layers. I’ve no doubt that on repeat playthroughs I’ll discover plenty of subtle details that I missed on the first go-around.
Fantastic Writing Afoot in ‘The Council’
The writing continues to be phenomenal and the team at Big Bad Wolf Games has duly proven that they understand the format. There’s a lot going on and every word that the other characters say is important. A particularly important part near the beginning made me stop and think about the consequences to come down the line. I had to really consider the far-reaching effects of what I thought a character meant.
At first, I felt overwhelmed with the complexity of the narrative. But now that the game has settled in. it’s gotten easier to organize the storylines. There’s a good deal to keep track of and a healthy level of distrust pervades across the board. The cliffhanger at the end of the episode is a masterclass in building suspense and I can’t stop thinking about the possibilities that lay in front of Louis.
The supporting cast really gets a chance to shine in this episode. You really get the chance to get to know them and they feel like real people. They have complex histories, likes, dislikes, etc. They aren’t just cardboard cutouts. I felt a sense of awe when I went into President Washington’s room. I felt a bit of sadness speaking to Emily.
One of the elements that I really enjoyed were the puzzles in the episode. Two of the major puzzles gave a real sense of accomplishment when you got them right. For instance, after figuring out a clue and rushing over to check the Bible for it, you’re still trying to get it untangled in your mind. All the pieces are there, you just need to figure out how to implement it. There’s so much information on the manner that it can be overwhelming, but you never know what will end up being important.
The game still looks great as well, but that’s to be expected with the same engine. The small touches, as in the previous episode, that are scattered throughout the rooms really give the manor life. It’s really something when you can manage to give a room with a few paintings and a bed a lived-in feeling. One small gripe is that there are several mentions of “there’s something in the dust”, but if you angle the camera, you can’t see anything. Whether this is a restriction of the engine or not, I don’t know, but it took me out of it a bit.
A Lot to Take In
But even in the larger, more open spaces, there’s a lot to take in. Lord Mortimer’s office has so much going on that you could spend an hour just reading about his family history. Big Bad Wolf has really gone above and beyond to bring you into the world they’ve created.
All in all, The Council Episode 2: Hide and Seek’ is a wonderful follow-up to episode 1 and I’m very excited to see what unfolds in Episode three. Episode two has really great mental puzzles and some very well-written dialogue trees, of which I’m very excited to go back and replay, and a real sense of consciousness. The decisions have real consequences that you need to weigh and the stakes just keep getting higher.