The Council: Episode 1 – The Mad Ones (PlayStation 4) Review

The Council: Episode 1 – The Mad Ones (PlayStation 4) Review

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Focus Home Interactive’s impressively bold portfolio scoops one other intriguing title with Big Bad Wolf’s political interval drama The Council, an episodic journey that fuses Telltale’s narrative-pushed experiences with a extra conventional function-enjoying launch. But does debut episode The Mad Ones do sufficient to attract you into its alternate historical past lore – or does it come off the rails like its crackpot solid?

Set through the late 18th Century on an island off the coast of England, a secret society that includes well-known faces like George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte converges on the mansion of mysterious aristocrat Lord Mortimer.

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You play as Louis de Richet, the son of Sarah de Richet, who’s the chief of the Golden Order within the warring France. Upon arriving on the island, Ms de Richet has gone lacking, and it’s your job to find your mom – and work out precisely what she’s obtained herself blended up in. This is scheduled to be a five episode collection, so relaxation assured there are not any agency conclusions on this inaugural instalment.

The gameplay largely adopts a branching story format much like Life Is Strange or The Walking Dead, however the developer’s been daring sufficient to riff on the system by including RPG components. You’ll choose a category at the beginning of the Game which is able to reward you with a collection of base expertise, every altering the best way that you just strategy every state of affairs within the story.

For instance, in the event you go for a discovered previous, you’ll earn the power to translate conversations. This might open up alternatives later within the story when, for instance, folks communicate in a overseas language – encounters that you just’ll miss in the event you choose completely different perks. As you progress you’ll earn expertise factors which you’ll be capable of make investments into different attributes, customising your character as you see match.

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While there are normally “standard” dialog choices, there are sometimes alternate options that play into your archetype. You can select to govern folks in the event you play as a detective, for instance, or you’ll be able to lie via your enamel you probably have the conviction to tug it off. All of this can expose you to completely different info relying upon the kind of protagonist you play.

The Game doesn’t do a tremendous job of stitching all of the completely different branches, which ends up in some awkward seguing between dialog scenes, however in two playthroughs we’ve discovered utterly various things about among the title’s key characters. There are additionally events the place you’ll want to pick out what you need to do, which leads to various scenes.

While the overall move of the episode stays the identical, there’s appreciable selection between the choices. The key factor is that there are not any fail states and flawed solutions; the story plods alongside whichever you select. And this does up the ante; dialog battles much like these in Life Is Strange: Before the Storm can simply be failed, with key intel misplaced endlessly in the event you muck up.

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The Game doesn’t deal with you want an fool. Try to earn somebody’s belief by stupidly telling them you’re the member of a secret society and there’s no recourse; you might have to do with out that individual particular person’s info except you’ll be able to get better. It’s sufficient consequence to make you consider what you’re doing, even when every thing strikes on regardless.

There’s extra, although: you’ll want Focus Points to choose some dialogue choices, and these can solely be recuperated utilizing consumables (found on the planet) or by figuring out one other character’s weaknesses. Some might wrestle with logic, for instance, and as soon as you identify that you could exploit it as a way to glean extra info from them. It’s fairly cool.

The greatest subject to this point, then, is that the writing doesn’t measure up. The overarching plot and lore may be very spectacular, however the second-to-second conversations move a little bit awkwardly and aren’t aided by some typically poor voice appearing. Moreover, the dialogue doesn’t match the historic setting, with some phrases protruding like a sore thumb.

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It’s additionally fairly overwhelming, as a result of the primary hour of the episode introduces a wealth of latest techniques and characters. This is one space the place the episodic nature hurts it; a full marketing campaign would have extra time to set out its stall, however The Council thrusts you in on the deep finish. Similarly, the set dressing is beautiful, however there’s by no means actually any alternative to correctly discover it.

Of course, we’ve little question that may come over the course of the collection, however we’re undecided whether or not episodic goes to show the proper supply mechanism right here. With such an advanced plot, the developer’s going to want to get the episodes out quick or create some actually good recaps, as a result of there’s a helluva lot occurring right here already.

Conclusion

The Council has spectacular ambitions – even when its execution is lower than scratch. You’ll already know whether or not its alternate historical past backdrop appeals to you, nevertheless it’s the RPG components that threaten to disrupt the narrative style. We already like what this collection is doing, however the writing and voice appearing leaves a little bit to be desired. That mentioned, it is a strong begin, even when it’s a bit too early to return to any conclusions in regards to the total story simply but.

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