The Council Episode 2 Review

By Mark Delaney, 5 months ago
After an impressive debut, Big Bad Wolf's The Council should've been put on the radar of anyone who enjoys narrative adventure games. The second episode is now available and it proves the premiere was not a one-hit wonder. This is shaping up to be a game worth seeing through to the end thanks to rewarding puzzles and a layered mystery that continues to pull you in.

the council

Episode 2, "Hide and Seek," picks up the same way as most games of this nature do: following a cliffhanger from the previous episode. Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, is the way the game finally introduces Lord Mortimer. After his continued evasiveness throughout the premiere, I was left thinking something was off about him, but right away he's introduced in this follow-up and throughout the episode you'll actually get to learn a lot about him.

This information comes largely from snooping around his mansion in a few new rooms, some of which aren't meant for public view. Letters from world leaders ask for his aid and opinions in a way that helps paint just how influential Mortimer is in The Council's canon of history. The number of items with which you can interact is dramatically increased in certain sections, and they all go to great lengths to help create a clearer backdrop for the world at that time while also deepening the mystery of the game.

The refreshing RPG elements of the premiere make a welcome return and will obviously be the backbone of the series going forward. Early on, it felt like the game was handing out far too many consumables, but as it turned out, few were left over by the end. It pays to be thorough when exploring as those buffs will aid you greatly when trying to navigate the obstacles found in every conversation.

Lord Mortimer certainly knows how to stage a scene.Lord Mortimer certainly knows how to stage a scene.

Layers are added to that mystery in fun ways. Not only are you still searching for your mother, but now you've been assigned as the investigator of the murder that occurred there. Other new political angles crop up during this three-hour episode as well, including the arrival of more world leaders spanning the globe. Collectively, the story feels like it's still setting up a lot without the intention to pay much of it off yet, but if you like that sort of thing and can reasonably trust that payoff is coming, these early moments are really intriguing.

The blemish of this episode is one that may nag this season throughout; there is a lack of new areas to explore. There's not a complete lack as new rooms are involved, but the majority of your time will be spent moving about the same halls as those in the premiere. Gaining access to the other guests' suites doesn't add much this time around, as each room is basically the same inside with only some furnishings differentiating them. Still, a new hedge maze and Mortimer's quarters are new and interesting. Each brings about detail-oriented puzzles that will have you inspecting books, maps, and actual history, which feels like a refreshing take on adventure game puzzles that often demand you dive into your inventory to solve problems. Luckily the plot keeps things entertaining regardless so some of that retreading is forgivable, but if the whole series is to play out entirely in this estate, the story will need to bring about some more secret passages and hidden rooms to keep things fresh.

Unlike the first episode and much like the remaining episodes, this follow-up contains just three achievements and all come with natural story progression. The developer also moved the level 15 achievement to free DLC, separate from the main game and not needing to be redownloaded, so it's now possible to go back and complete the premiere if you haven't yet, then come back and wrap up this second episode with peace of mind knowing they'll all come without any hassle.

Summary

"Hide and Seek" confirms The Council is more than a one-hit wonder. By combining the reinvigorating RPG elements of the premiere with detail-oriented puzzles, and adding new layers to this political mystery, it's all shaping up to be one of the best new series of the year. It's a lot of fun whether you're in it for the chess match of every conversation, the puzzles that demand you pay close attention, or the mystery that continues to tease. If you were waiting for more than one episode before you committed to the series, worry no more. This is a mystery worth unraveling.
4 / 5
Positives
  • Rewarding, detail-oriented puzzles
  • Continues the great RPG elements that have blazed new trails for the genre
  • Adds layers to an ongoing mystery
  • Abundant world-building collectibles and clues
Negatives
  • Few new locations
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent three hours back in Lord Mortimer's prestigious estate piling new mysteries on previous ones. He gathered all three DLC achievements for 90 Gamerscore. An Xbox One review code was provided by the publisher.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is one of three voices on the TA Playlist Podcast. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his family. He almost never writes in the third person.